Tharp Chapter 3

Pages 1-6 by Jela

People are all born with their own creative DNA. There is not any scientific or biological ground, but artists have chosen their field, not others and that impulsive directivity is the clue of creative DNA. When artists create their work, they follow their instinct first and may think consciously after or even not. It is like a focal length of the camera. It is a guide to their artistic merit. Some can give more weight to details, but others can see the whole structure more, which is like the focus of rees or a forest. Artworks are the result of this trait, DNA. Artists’ personalities, characteristics, and styles are implicit in their artworks. Therefore, the way which is generated by the creative DNA defines the artists. Artists’ creative DNA is a prism for our everyday lives. This is why we can see the artist from their works. Especially, it can be divided into two types, which are “Zoe” and “Bios.” Zoe is a kind of macroscopic perspective and Bios is more like a microscopic one. Thus, if artists have more like Zoe properties, they usually want to focus on structure, form, or general format of the work. On the other hand, artists who are more Bios tend to get toward details, narratives, or steps of their works. Of course, we can’t tell one is better and the other is not. They are just different, so there is no one exact answer. Although artists can produce their works without noticing where their creative DNA brings them, artists who realize their DNA grasp why they make such works, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how they view the world and see what their art plays in the world.

Pages 6-12 by Shinaaz Johal

“Dive in. Step Back. Dive in. Step Back.” This was one of the initial quotes within pages 6-12 that stood out for me. Tharp has explained the importance of this quote by highlighting the need for individuals to take their time with their work in order to keep your intent clear. This is a great point that has also been expressed in aspects of my own education within the Visual Arts program here at SFU. We have been taught to follow through with the intent of our work and to make that intent clear throughout the piece, which is why it’s so important to really “step back” from your work to see it from different perspectives.

Tharp continues throughout this chapter, to highlight the importance of self-knowledge and discovery. A particular quote from this reading that I thought summed up this point is that “…if you understand the strands of your creative DNA, you begin to see how they mutate into common threads in your work.” In order to exemplify this further, Tharp included a self-questionnaire that totalled 33 questions that forces whoever participates to really think about their life and self-discovery all together. I encourage everyone to participate in this questionnaire. I chose to do all 33 questions and I can honestly say that they revealed parts of my thought process that I felt I could never understand before. This questionnaire also allows you to recognize where your inspiration comes from and where your true strengths and weaknesses lie, which in turn I think is a fantastic questionnaire to refer back to in time in order to reflect on your past and to appreciate where you’ve come from.

Pages 12-18 by Huong Anh (Sam)

Knowing yourself of what your strengths and weaknesses will help you in the long run.

Playwright Neil Simon:

  • Habitual creativity
  • Pushes his talent
  • Embracing his strengths while also play with his skills to test his audience

Understanding what you shouldn’t be doing will save you time and energy.

One’s improvisational skill could show what kind of creative DNA the person has.

The term “DNA denial” refers to going against your creative DNA, your strengths.

→ This reminds me of the phrase “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Amos E. Dolbear of Tufts “Aesop Jr.”

Given one option, there would be no right or wrong choice since you can’t choose otherwise. However, given two choices and it’s a toss-up.

→  The more options you have, the more likely you will have analysis paralysis: a phenomenon where a person will overthink their choices and ends up not making any decision.

Choices should come down on the basis of your instinct and your knowledge. Something that just feels right.

“You can observe a lot by watching.” (Yogi Berra, 15)

  • Observe and jotting down things objectively will give you a wider selection to choose from.
  • Observe and jotting down things subjectively; what pleases your aesthetics, interests? By doing so, you are giving yourself a narrower selection.
  • Letting your judgment affect your observation and you will cherry-pick and filter the world under a narrow lens.

→ Through observations and acknowledging your tendencies, you will know yourself better.

“The world will not be revealed to you. You will be revealed.” (Tharp, 16)

A New Name

Your name is your identity.

“[W]ho you are and aim to be.” (Tharp, 16)

→ Imagine if you could change your name. Would you be able to change your destiny if you had a different name at birth?

“Names are often a repository of a kind of genetic memory.” (Tharp, 17)

Names have significance in our life. It’s our parents’ aspiration for us. It’s a way of honoring our ancestors or the people whom our parents admire.

Tharp believes that changing your name is “a sign of artistic maturity.”

→ It is a response to personal wants; it is to become more than what you’re expected since you were born. Or rather a sign of confidence that you are ready to adopt a new you.

  • Wolfgang Adam Mozart – born as Joannes Chrisostomus Wolfgang Gottlieb

→ By changing his name, Mozart “reincarnates” to distance himself from his past. This is not a form of escapism but rather a growth acknowledgment.

  • Muhammad Ali – born as Cassius Clay

→ Changed his name as a form of liberation, his freedom to convert to Islam.

“Yet how right those names now seem, how completely their owners have taken possession of them.” (Tharp, 18)

→ referring to how some name changes seem destined to be changed and later known by.

Pages 18-25 by Flora

My Creative Autobiography

My creative autobiography is the 33 answers of the author. The answer 1 and 2 both talked about the first creative moment. The first creative moment about the keyboard, and the sponge is the item that witness the first creative moment. The answer 3 to 7 all discussed the best and dumbest ideas. The best idea for author is become a dancer because this idea went with her gut rather than her head. The dumbest idea is the opinion that she could have everything because she is hard to have everything and still can balance them such as family and career. When she look at her body in the dressing room mirror, she decide to become dancer, and this gut is the way that she choose her life. Therefore, her gut lead to have these ideas. In the answer 8 to 10, author expressed her ambition that she want to continually improve, and how to achieve her ambition. The pettiness of human nature will block her ambition, so the most important thing to achieve ambition is keep working and gather force. The answer 11 and 12 showed the reader the daily life of author. The beginning and repetition in a day will help people to think about their life. The answer 13 to 16 is the creative act and attitude. Author indicated that her first and second creative act both organize people in time and space whether fist choreography and first concert. The answer 17 to 22 all communicate about the people who affect author life and idea in the past. The role models, special friends and the people who the author worked with  are able to influence the author to grow and develop. The answer 23 to 25 express how the author faced with positive and negative environment. The essential that faced this situation is the attitude that people chose by themselves. The answer 26 and 27 expressed author like to study the beginning of things because beginning will help she to face with problem. For the answer 28 to 30, author show her ideal and fear thing. The ideal thing is possible to happen for her, but the afraid thing is unavoidable. The last three answers (31 to 33) are the viewpoints that are based on individual experience. Author wants to change the answer 6 because she still wants to have everything. Also, she points to a mastery needed to have enough experience, the particular version, and brave, and she wishes that she would always be luckier. These three questions are more likely the question that people ask for themselves. The answer that wants to change, the definition of mastery and the greatest dream all lead people to have a deeper thinking.

(Re)Educating the Senses: Multimodal Listening, Bodily Learning, and the Composition of Sonic Experiences


Steph Ceraso

We have broken this second reading into three parts:
            – PART A: Pages 1-3/4 (Jana)
            – PART B: Pages 4-6 (Gabriella)
            – PART C: Pages 5-8/9 (Elle)

Introduction and “Toward An Expansive Approach to Listening” by Jana

Something I find interesting:
I find it heartening that this scholar, Ceraso, pointedly incorporates and considers the experiences of alternatively abled bodies to make theoretical points.

Something I find confusing: In the introduction, Ceraso makes some notable clarification of the intersection between “the digital” and multimodality. Unfortunately, I am not really privy to enough of the discourse in sound studies to fully understand this relationship. Basically, this part was both intriguing but also threw me for a loop. Excerpt from the area in question: “In rhetoric and composition, multimodality has been associated primarily with making meaning of digital media, though this association is slowly changing. Scholars such as Jody Shipka and Jason Palmeri have argued that equating multimodality with the digital gives our students a falsely narrow sense of the complexity of multimodal experience.” (Page 104) Given that Ceraso teaches about digital media at U of Maryland, I sense that this has something to do with attitudes she has encountered as a professor. Overall, I find this sidepoint an interesting one and I wish I had more context to understand what she is referring to more specifically. 

Something I am curious about: My ears pricked up when I heard mention of phenomenology. I am keen to know more about how theories of multimodal listening might overlap–but also diverge–from phenomenological theory applied in visual art (my area of study). I cannot pretend that I understand it that well, but I will try to explain in my own words… My own understanding is that a “phenomenological approach” relates to the philosophy which prioritizes the experience of the senses. Prior to this, Descartes had set the course for intense focus on the dilemma of how one can, more objectively, understand the outside world given the ‘unreliability’ of our senses. Centuries later, with the rise of phenomenological inquiry, this new approach abandons that doubtful line of thinking in favour of confidently re-centralizing the self and its subjective experience instead. I am left wondering how Ceraso would chart terms like “multimodality” in relationship to “phenomenological”: Is one an umbrella under which the other resides, or do they have crossover instead?
With that said, I found myself trying to relate the multimodal sensing–that Ceraso argues for– with the work of my discipline. James Turrell’s visual art practice focuses on his very immersive installations of light, and I have heard his work talked about quite often with reference to phenomenology. As you can imagine, encountering his work really involves an engagement of the viewer’s whole body. Creating such an atmospheric environment to surround the body can be quite disorienting, and viewers are therefore thrust into a situation which emphases  phenomenological tools to navigate the space and make sense of the work’s “meaning”. These are “experiencers” more than they are “viewers”; which is the go-to term for a person engaging with a visual artwork.


John Dewey and the Esthetic
by Gabriella

Multimodal Listening: a bodily practice that approaches sound as a holistic experience (away from the organ-specific definition)

As a practice that involves  

1) sensory 

2) embodied experience of sound 



4) environment comprise& shape one’s embodied experience

Multimodal listening amplifies the ecological relationship between sound, bodies, and environments.

Quality of experience is important about the role of experience in cultivating multimodal listening practice, as John Dewey said:“ the quality of experience is essential to facilitate growth and learning in subsequent experiences.“(Experience 47). Depend on it, the author wants to suggest that multimodal listening practices are a means of achieving high-quality, educational, or what Dewey calls “ESTHETIC” experience (Art 18).


The channels or tools in which listening to a recent album doesn’t matter. Because the content of music represents the significant thing, like the lyrics, music, pace and rhythm of the songs. The meaning of these songs, the emotion appeared and the memories which connecting to the music are more valuable. After repeated experiences with these songs, though, people no longer actively learning or growing from each listening. This particular listening experience has become habitual, routinized thus It has decreased in quality. However, if they switch to another format of listening to music such as concerts or clubs, it will increase the quality again. Due to the new listening environment, people will get new feelings from the unique sights, smells and sounds that happened to surround them. Listening to music on the laptop again, the listening experience is coloured by experience at the concert. Starting notice things that did not before—particular lyrics or beats that were emphasized more in the concert than in the recorded version of the album. Awareness of the limitation of the listening environment and the immersive concert experience has sharpened the awareness of sound possibilities and impossibilities in subsequent listening experiences with the album.

“ESTHETIC” experience = “Heightened Vitality” (John Dewey)

“Instead of signifying being shut up within one’s own private feelings and sensations, it [an esthetic experience] signifies active and alert commerce with the world; at its height, it signifies complete interpenetration of self and the world of objects and events” (Art 18)”

“the reinvigoration associated with esthetic experiences “as participative [.. .] knowing, doing, feeling, and making sense are inseparable” (McCarthy and Wright 17).”

Esthetic experiences are holistic in that they do not separate mind and body or isolate one sense from can heighten listeners’ experience of the sensory, material, and environmental aspects of sonic interactions, and also involve a heightened sensitivity to the experience in its entirety.

Evelyn Glennie’s Holistic Listening Practices by Gabriella

 Evelyn Glennie: renowned musician (deafness) who performs more than 100 concerts a year


Glennie’s experiences provide a valuable model for understanding listening as a multimodal event because they augment the expansive and esthetic nature of sonic experience.  The ways in which Glennie approaches sonic experiences can help anybody (and anybody) learn to expand his or her listening practices and become a more critical consumer of sound in everyday life.

Her multimodal listening practices are learned bodily habits that can be reproduced in any individual regardless of where he or she falls on the hearing continuum. Glennie’s multimodal listening practices exemplify a capacious, inclusive form of listening that has the potential to change how people think about and interact with sound.

Come on Feel ( and See and Touch) the Noise by Elle Cunnings

Sonic composition / textual composition


Multimodal listening’s focus is to enhance an audience’s experience through sonic and textual composition. Fully encompassing the bodies ability to experience sound on multiple levels. For instance, physical vibrations of a base in an auditorium. Strategizing design techniques for both sonic and textual compositions creates a contextual communication through sound. Inclusive strategies include visual, narrative and textual composition of sound. As does the involvement of a digital sound score, offering a constructive and controlled environment of listening.

Sonic composition

  • Strategies in designing sonic compositions,
  • Variables such as:
    • Technologies, context, atmosphere, audience
  • All factors involved in the experience of listening
  • Critical awareness of sounds
  • Physical and emotional effect of their bodies – affective mode

Textual composition  Nonverbal sound

  • Communicate sound through interactive experiences
  • Multi sensory
  • Engage listening with entire body
  • Inclusive experiences: deaf and hard of hearing audiences
  • textual, narrative, colour correspond to to sonic composition
  • Universal design

Practicing Soundscapes

  • Sonic material of neighbourhood
    • Immersive, ephemeral, intense, effective, dynamic
  • Digital soundscape
    • Controlled, repetition, analyze patterns

Play and experimentation

  • Ever changing         
  • Searching for the “limitations of sound”
  • Contextual experience
  • “Mind-body complex” -Debra Hawhee
  • Repeat, transform, respond
  • Translate sound in attention to bodily interactions
  • Experimental practice.

Sensory Branding and Marketing

  • Sound as an experience of a product of activity
  • Highly aesthetic
  • Sensory branding and design- overall environment

Immersive Sensory experiences 

  • Focus: immersive and three-dimensional sonic experiences
  • Techniques:                        
    • frequencies
    • vibrations felt in the body
    • visual and spatial elements