Research Output

Music Generated Narratives: Elaborating the Da Capo Interview Technique

  Qualitative researchers draw on multiple, creative ways to elicit participant narratives. Our previous use of playing researcher-selected music to participants to elicit narratives at the end of a traditional interview, in what we call the ‘Da Capo’ technique, suggested it had significant potential to reveal nuanced narratives to complement those generated by existing approaches. This paper relates how we explored the ability of the ‘Da Capo’ technique as a standalone method to generate participant narratives. To do this, we played 10 one-minute long extracts of classical music (5 ‘Western’ and 5 ‘Chinese’) to 20 participants (10 ‘Western’ and 10 ‘Chinese’); after hearing each piece participants were asked if the music recalled for them any experiences of learning. Where it did so, we explored this further in dialogue and narrative recall. As expected, some narratives related to experiences of studying, academic success, and of particular times and places associated with learning. However, in many cases the music elicited narratives of learning which, surprisingly and in multiple dimensions, related to physical learning, culture, the family, and particular emotions such as sympathy, and of aspects of character, such as optimism and honesty. We provide details of using the technique. We show how particular music was effective in eliciting learning experiences with participants, but we also indicate when for some participants it did not elicit such experiences. We provide further evidence of the value of using music either as a stand-alone method in the qualitative researcher’s toolkit, or as an additional and complementary tool. We discuss the merits, limitations, and potential applications of the Da Capo technique.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    07 October 2018

  • Publication Status:


  • ISSN:


  • Library of Congress:

    BF Psychology

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    158 Applied psychology

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Cortazzi, M., Pilcher, N., & Jin, L. (2018). Music Generated Narratives: Elaborating the Da Capo Interview Technique. Qualitative Report, 23(10),



narratives, music, interviewing,

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