Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Music Honours


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

First Advisor

Dr Matthew Styles


The ambiguity of the twenty-first century classical musician career pathway has resulted in a change of professional traditions and opportunities for musicians both within Australia and internationally. The literature discussing the portfolio career model of musicians demonstrates a clear place for this career in the current music industry; one such pathway is that of the performercomposer musician. The aim of this research project was to explore the career pathways of three performer-composer saxophonists. Specifically, this study aimed to identify the change and development of traditional composer-performer roles, explore the fluidity in the spectrum of composer and performer led creative outputs, and determine whether or not saxophonists with no formal compositional training could establish successful performer-composer careers through their performance experience.

Following a qualitative research methodology, semi-structured interviews with two research subjects and the analysis of an interview transcript with a third formed the basis of this project. Results found that the performer-composer saxophonists were profoundly influenced by multistylistic performance experience, which in turn informed their compositional output. They utilised performance-oriented networks to assist in establishing themselves as composers through commissions and premiers of new works. Most importantly, performer-composer saxophonists recognised the need for diversity and versatility to maintain success in their careers.

The implication of this research is that the performer-composer career is one that does not necessarily require formal composition training, but rather one that can be developed through the application of transferrable skills gained through performance activity. Future research is recommended to further investigate the performer-composer career model and establish a framework for imminent emerging musicians to apply to their creative activity.