Composition, Research and Pseudo-Science’: A Response to John Croft

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6–11) argues that, ‘the very idea that musical composition is a form of research is a category error’ (p. 6). My response argues that Croft's analysis is borne of a widespread, misguided and essentialist attempt to reduce all research to the paradigm of scientific method, and that he accepts this paradigm uncritically. Whilst asserting that ‘composition is research’ does not entail a category mistake (as the whole point about research is that it is not delimited in any way), assuming that all research must be reducible to the scientific paradigm of method does entail the requisite reification to constitute such a mistake. The imposition of this reductionist paradigm has a distorting impact on the Humanities more generally and, whilst these distortions are particularly acute with musical composition, that is no reason to single it out for persecution. I argue that where the tenets of scientific method are adopted outside of science, this constitutes, more often than not, superficial pseudo-science (or scientism), whereby the tenets of scientific method are fetishized and applied divorced from the complete scientific method and scientific objectives. I conclude that the Humanities would do better to develop its own paradigms – paradigms that are better suited and intrinsic to its respective disciplines.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberDOI: 10.1017/S0040298215000625
Pages (from-to)50-59
Number of pages10
Issue number275
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016


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