Research Methodology for Performing Arts
ISBN 9789395515870




Part 4

Research Methodology

All research is not uniform. Scientific research is universal. In the field of art, culture and literature, one can discern no uniformity. Even with the same environment, one may expect different results. This is primarily because art is based on human emotion and not human knowledge. In science, one comes to a conclusion due to some curiosity that sparks from a phenomenon or event. This may lead to further research. In the arts however, the conclusion is drawn from a spark of knowledge that results in an emotion. For instance, the scientist sees a bird fly and in his inspiration designs a flying machine. On the other hand, the gōpuram of the big temple in Thanjavur44 is based and built on knowledge of engineering but also is an object of sheer beauty that inspires poetry.

At the outset we must determine the difference between method and methodology. K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar says, “In simple terms, research is a movement, a movement from the known to the unknown”. Research methodology however is a process to understand the topic. It does not bear an implication to the goal to be achieved nor is there any assurance that it will have the desired result.

The methods used in research could either be qualitative or quantitative in nature while the methodology would mean why and how the particular method was employed or used. It would suggest the methods that are efficient, in order to facilitate the process undertaken in the research.

In research, methods are used to collect data and the purpose is to solve the problem while the methodology is the systematic approach employed including collecting of data so that by applying the correct method, the problem can be solved.

Methods for the research come into play usually in the later stages of the thesis but the methodology must be clear and apparent from the initial stage. For e.g., if the problem is the possibility of the 10th rasā, then the methodology must include all the methods relevant to this study well within the parameters of time, context and relevance.

The methods are techniques that are employed in order to solve the problem and there are very many such techniques. The methodology is on the other hand is to understand the purpose in using the methods listed and is systematic and offers a strategy to solve the problem. The method is a small part of the methodology which is multidimensional in nature.

Method and Methodology

Methods can be qualitative or quantitative in nature; the former being open ended whereas the latter can be conclusive based on the data received. The methodology for both will however be ‘why’ those particular methods are used, explaining in detail how one should go about collecting the data for the specific problem and the accuracy of the methods in order to get the results at the end of the research.

The technique used to collect data will be the core of the methods whereas the systematic approach to solve the problem of which data collection is a part, will determine the methodology.

The objective that any method employs will be to find the solution but the correct process or procedure to undertake to determine the solution will be the methodology.

There may be many techniques or methods, but the strategy employed to solve the problem will determine the methodology. The techniques are used to get results or reach a conclusion but the reason for using them will determine the methodology.

Methods are therefore a small part of the methodology and used in the second stage of research whereas methodology is a multi-dimensional concept involving many features including said methods and is seen in the first stage of research. The planning, methods, approaches are all part of this methodology.

Methods in Research

Now let us see the different methods used in research.

Research is primarily of two types: qualitative and quantitative.

Qualitative and Quantitative Methods

Qualitative methods are insights to understand a problem. It studies behaviour, attitude and culture. On the contrary, quantitative research as the name suggests, needs to quantify the study and so will involve the use of statistics and mathematical formulae to study a problem.

Qualitative methods deal with focus groups (small groups of targeted people to get the answers for the problem), interviews and discussions but the objective is to study their behaviour and attitude to the topic or problem.

The quantitative method may employ the same interviews or survey or a hybrid method of using more than one method. All the same, it compiles data based on the answers given by the respondents to the question. The qualitative method understands why they answered it and how they answered it while the quantitative method analyses how many answered it in affirmation or otherwise.

The qualitative method therefore studies the attitude and behaviour that is received as a response whereas the quantitative method is based on empirical research and aims at hard facts not dealing with emotions.

Qualitative methods explore ideas and theories as a part of the research as it will use purposeful sampling that explores why people will give certain answers in a particular fashion. However, this is exploratory in nature which is in contrast to the quantitative method which examines the cause - effect relationship and is conclusive in nature.

Qualitative methods concern with narrative data or collect and analyze words, pictures and objects and the reason for the responses to them whereas the quantitative method concern is collection and analysis of charts, graphs and tables which can be quantified.

Qualitative methods follow an inductive pattern to reason the problem whereas the quantitative method is deductive in its reasoning. This is because it relies on available information to arrive at the conclusion.

Qualitative methods are subjective in approach because it develops an initial understanding of the problem in the manner of its approach. The quantitative method on the other hand, is objective in nature as based on the hard facts, it will recommend the course of action to be taken in solving the problem.

The qualitative method is subjective to interpretation whereas the quantitative method is more efficient to test the hypothesis but may miss out the contextual details. So, the quantitative method may be time consuming and may base it on experiments and case studies. The quantitative method on the other hand counts the statistical data to explain observations and is less emotional and separated from the subject.

Having understood these differences, we can study the different methods used in research with reference to the performing arts and Bharatanāṭyam in particular.

Historical Method

This method employs a step-by-step study of the topic, starting from the origin of the person, object or concept, going on to its growth and development, analyzing the influences and reactions from society and the object researched. Moreover, it will study the reasons for shaping that concept either to fruition or to decay and the role of the persons or institutions that fostered its growth. For e.g. the topic ‘Bhayānaka rasā 45 in Bharatanāṭyam repertoire’ will trace the evolution of the rasā looking into all ancient texts and treatises that mention it and the development of this rasā over the centuries, being featured in the works of scholars and poets and even the kings who patronised this in their compositions and the societal, literary and artistic influences on the concept. Finally, it may study the relevance of this study as a dancer, teacher, choreographer and sensitive human to modern times.

Analytical Method

This method aims at understanding every aspect of the topic chosen right from definition of the topic be it a treatise or compositions of an individual. It will analyze what goes into the making of the treatise or work, influences of society, emotional conditions of the creator, interaction and influences of contemporary works and composers or authors and the technical aspects inherent in the work. However, this is time bound if it studies a concept that was prevalent during a fixed period in time. Alternately, it may be task bound if the same composition or work is treated by two different artistes or individuals that can be measured and evaluated only for that particular work. For e.g., an aṣṭapađi 46 done by two artists will be limited to the execution of that composition and cannot stretch to their capacity to perform other pieces or compositions. It will be more quantitative in nature and perhaps employ methods like questionnaire and personal interviews as a tool for data collection.

This is usually used when the topic is dealing with a time bound or task bound concept. For e.g., trikāla jatis 47 in padavarṇams 48 in Bharatanāṭyam. The structure of the jati ,49 the construct, the rhythmic notation used and the relation of that to the structure of the jati, its placement and reason for the placement, duration, yati 50 patterns and other technical details like pauses are studied in minute detail. However, it is confined to the jati in the padavarṇam and will not extend to other nrittā 51 sections or other jatis in the same padavarṇam. This will study the trikāla jati and pattern in the chosen padavarṇam or varṇam and is confined to that alone. It may also study the rhythmic notation as uttered by a naṭṭuvanār 52 if it is for a dancer and the rhythmic notation as uttered by a percussionist if it is for a musician.

Descriptive Method

This method as the word suggests, describes in detail the topic, its origin and development stage by stage with details of influences from other fields, concepts and even periods in time that alter the topic in either form or content. For e.g., a topic like ‘The Sollukaṭṭus of Bharatanātyam Jatis in Padavarṇams’ may describe the term sollukaṭṭu 53, its relevance to Bharatanāṭyam and of course the jati pattern in the padavarṇam. The details pertaining to the construct of the padavarṇam and the jati and in particular, the sollukaṭṭus or rhythmic notation are studied thoroughly. It is however subjective in nature as it will studied solely from the perspective of the researcher and the choice of padavarṇam, for the study may be of a nature most suitable to the researcher. The researcher may collect data by conducting surveys and usually deals with topics relating to the social sciences which change according to the times and conditions.

Exploratory Method or Experimental Method

This deals with an idea, theory or concept which may be abstract or is re-interpreted on the basis of the experiments that are conducted. This may be called basic research if it reveals some knowledge that did not exist before but is studied through experiments that are conducted. In that case it can also be called an exploratory method as it is exploring the possibility of a new idea. For e.g., the study of a new rasa like bhakti 54 can be studied using the experimental method where the tools for data collection could be surveys or questionnaires. However, if the study is about a rasā hitherto unused or unheard of that will bring a new dimension in the rasā study then it is called basic research. The same rasā if it is prevalent in study and in performance, can be further explored through the mediums of poetry, music and dance. It is then using the exploratory method.

Inductive and Deductive Method

Both these methods start with observation and the tools they employ may include, case studies, survey, questionnaires and sampling. The inductive method starts with a specific idea aiming to develop a theory so that the conclusion could be of a general nature. The deductive method on the other hand starts with an existing idea based on a general principle in order to arrive at a specific conclusion. For e.g. Using the inductive method, in order to understand the rasā śṛṅgāra 55, the researcher starts with observation, then forms the hypothesis that śṛṅgāra is solely dependent on the receiver, generalizes it with suitable examples and verifies it using the required tools. On the other hand, if the deductive method is used, the research begins with the established theory that śṛṅgāra is the king of all rasās, form the hypothesis that śṛṅgāra can affect the receiver and design a research strategy to conclude that it is possible using suitable tools.

All of the above said methods are scientific in nature as it deals with a cause and effect that is tested and verified. The tools are specific in nature and the data derived are analyzed with care over a specific number of participants, period or places.

Examples of Methods

Let us look at some examples while revisiting some topics suggested for research and the possible methodology to be utilized for the same. However, it must be understood that more than one method can be used depending on the researcher and the scope of the study involved. It is possible for researchers to differ on the method chosen for the same topic depending on their own capability and the multifaceted nature of the topic itself.

Concepts - Here the researcher may choose the concept of ‘Kamalā’ and how it features as part of the lyrics in the various compositions in a Bharatanāṭyam repertoire. The researcher may choose a historical method tracing the evolution of the concept over a period. Alternately, he or she may choose the analytical method to explain the kind of texts featuring the very same concept.

Composers - The researcher may choose the contribution of Ghanam Krishna Iyer a popular padam composer. Here, the researcher may choose to use the analytical method or descriptive method to cover all aspects of his compositions.

Treatises - The researcher may choose the references to dance in the text Nartana Nirnaya. Here the researcher may choose the analytical method to understand the dance related portions of the text.

Periods of time - He may choose the changes in the development of Bharatanāṭyam after Independence. The researcher may choose either the analytical or the Inductive method.

Comparative studies - The researcher may choose to compare hastās detailed in the Silappadikāram and the text Pancha Marabu. The researcher may use the comparative method along with the descriptive method.

44. A city in Tamilnadu
45. One subdivision of the Navarasās
46. A musical composition composed by Saint poet Jayadeva
47. A jati performed to 3 progressive speeds and as a nrittā component
48. The central composition in a Bharatanāṭyam repertoire
49. A non representational section which is a blend of body movements done to a tālā structure
50. The rhythmical ending of a nrittā section in dance
51. The non representational element in dance
52. The conductor of a dance performance
53. Pnemonics of nrttā sections in dance
54. Devotion
55. One subdivision of the navarasās