Cognition, Technology & Work

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 233–251 | Cite as

Theoretical and methodological issues related to long term creative cognition: the case of musical composition

  • Nicolas DoninEmail author
  • Jacques Theureau
Original Article


The theme of large temporal span of cognition is emerging as a key issue in cognitive anthropology and ergonomics. We will consider it through the analysis of a musical composition process, that of Voi(rex) by Philippe Leroux, in which sketches and score writing are articulated through the use of different kinds of computer software. After presenting the data collecting method, we will consider the analysis of the resulting data concerning the writing of two movements of Voi(rex). Such an analysis will allow us: (1) to draw methodological conclusions about the time and mode of inquiry; (2) to specify the notion of situated cognition in situations essentially pre-established by the actor; (3) to set out two families of theoretical results relating to large temporal span cognitive phenomena: the first concerns the notion of an idea and its role in the development of the creative process; the second deals with the notion of the appropriation of tools and the making of situated individual cognition.


Large temporal span of cognition Activity analysis Musical composition Situation simulation Cognition theory 



The authors would like to thank Thomas Bottini for having re-read this paper, Jonathan Goldman for having translated it, and Samuel Goldszmidt for his longstanding collaboration on the Philippe Leroux project.


  1. D’Andrade R (1995) The development of cognitive anthropology. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  2. Deleuze G (1994) [1968] Difference and repetition. Columbia University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Dieumegard G (2004) Possibles significatifs et construction d’assertions garanties en e-formation–Contribution à l’étude de l’activité d’apprenants dans un dispositif institutionnel. PhD diss., Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, ParisGoogle Scholar
  4. Dieumegard G, Saury J, Durand M (2004) L’organisation de son propre travail: une étude du cours d’action des cadres de l’industrie. Le Travail Humain 67 1:157–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Donin N, Theureau J (2005) Music composition in the wild: from the horizon of creative cognition to the time & situation of inquiry. Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the European Association of Cognitive Ergonomics (EACE), 2005, Chania, Greece, pp 57–64Google Scholar
  6. Dougherty JWD (ed) (1985) Directions in cognitive anthropology. University of Illinois Press, UrbanaGoogle Scholar
  7. Ericsson KA, Simon H (1984) Protocol analysis. Verbal reports as data. MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  8. Fleck L (1979) Genesis and development of a scientific fact. The University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  9. Garfinkel H, Lynch M, Liningdton E (1981) The work of discovering science construed with materials from the optically discovered pulsar. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 11:337–336Google Scholar
  10. Goodenough WH (1981) Culture, language and society. Benjamin Cummings Publishing Co., Menlo ParkGoogle Scholar
  11. Grison B (1998) Structures de raisonnement dans un laboratoire de neurobiologie du développement: étude dans une perspective d’écologie cognitive. PhD diss., Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, ParisGoogle Scholar
  12. Haué JB (2003) Conception d’interfaces grand public en termes de situations d’utilisation: le cas du multi-accès. PhD diss., Université de Technologie de Compiègne, CompiègneGoogle Scholar
  13. Hervé JL (1999) L’image sonore: regard sur la création musicale. PhD diss., Université de Lille III-Charles-de-Gaulle, LilleGoogle Scholar
  14. Hutchins E (1994) Cognition in the wild. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  15. Knorr Cetina K, Mulkay M (eds) (1983) Science observed: perspectives on the social study of science. Sage Publications, LondresGoogle Scholar
  16. Lakatos I (1970) Falsification and the methodology of scientific research programmes. In: Lakatos I, Musgrave A (eds) Criticism and the growth of knowledge. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 91–195Google Scholar
  17. Lakoff G, Johnson M (1980) Metaphors we live by. Chicago University Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  18. Lamonde F (2000) L’intervention ergonomique: un regard sur la pratique professionnelle. Octares, ToulouseGoogle Scholar
  19. McAdams S (2004) Problem-solving strategies in music composition: a case study. Music Perception 21 3:391–429CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Marmaras N (1984) Identification des contraintes pragmatiques rencontrées lors de la conception assistée par ordinateur: une approche méthodologique. PhD diss., Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers-Université Paris XIII, ParisGoogle Scholar
  21. Merleau-Ponty M (1945) Phénoménologie de la perception. Gallimard, ParisGoogle Scholar
  22. Mion P, Nattiez JJ, Thomas JC (1982) L’envers d’une œuvre—De natura sonorum de Bernard Parmegiani. Buchet/Chastel, ParisGoogle Scholar
  23. Newell A, Simon H (1972) Human problem solving. Prentice-Hall, Englewood ClifsGoogle Scholar
  24. Nuhn R, Eaglestone B, Ford N, Moore A, Brown G (2002) A qualitative analysis of composers at work. Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference, Gothenburg, International Computer Music Association pp 597–599Google Scholar
  25. Rosch E, Lloyd BB (1978) Cognition and categorization. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, HillsdaleGoogle Scholar
  26. Smith LB, Thelen E (eds) (1993) A dynamic systems approach to development: applications. MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  27. Suchman L (1987) Plans and situated actions: the problem of human/machine communication. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  28. Thelen E, Smith LB (1995) A dynamic systems approach to the development of cognition and action. MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  29. Theureau J (2003) Chapter 4: course-of-action analysis & course-of-action centered design. In: Hollnagel E (ed) Handbook of cognitive task design. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah pp 55–81Google Scholar
  30. Theureau J, Donin N (2006) Comprendre une activité de composition musicale: les relations entre sujet, activité créatrice, environnement et conscience préréflexive. In: Barbier JM, Durand M (eds) Sujets, activités, environnements. Approches transverses. Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, pp 221–251Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (I.R.C.A.M.) and Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (C.N.R.S.)ParisFrance

Personalised recommendations