Artistic creation has – needs – obscure zones, where ideas arise or develop; a little bit wildly, away from the conscious survey. To be looked at with the corner of the eye awaiting that better moment when to trap them, formalize them. Wait too long, and ideas overgrow or evaporate, but settle them too soon and they will be weak and unable to move yonder. Our arts-based research project touches directly the creative. This cannot be done in the operation theatre, we risk analysing corpses, but neither can it be acceptable to leave all but the final result in the dark; that, in the best of cases, would be an artistic process and not research. An arts-based research project, of the kind we are to get involved in, requires to set the ideal circumstances so that the creative process is encouraged and happens, while making of it an object of contemplation (and, hence, of study) in itself; to find a perfect balance between lights and shades.

It has not been an easy task to define the methods with which to carry out our research. It is probable that methodology remains still the darkest zone concerning arts-based research. However, like in so many other cases, the easiest was the best, and all that was needed was to formulate our ideal working process, and see what it meant in practice.

We need to use our tacit and explicit knowledge, not only artistic, but also acoustical, aesthetical, musicological, technological or scholarly, to speculate, to search for and imagine possible outcomes, examine their pertinence, discard or refine, while leaving doors opened to (pseudo-) accidental discoveries and new nuances. We need to make this explicit, communicable, so as to discuss, document and formalize. Even if it is not completely rounded up to the smallest detail, this formalization will allow to create models, of a software environment, of required tools, of a particular, precise idea which was desired, guessed or thought. Then to experience, listen, play and analyse the results.

This process can be seen as repeating in a cycle with multiple variations and interconnections. We define, thus, a system of methods comprising three components:

Meth 1 - Conceptualization. Reflection, discussion and study.
Meth 2 - Modelling. Design and development.
Meth 3 - Experimentation. Experiencing and assessment.