SESSION 4: Facing the Artistic Turn: Musicology and Artistic Research

Thursday, 26 November 2020

16:45 – 18:15 SESSION 4:

Facing the Artistic Turn: Musicology and Artistic Research

chair: Ana Čizmić Grbić

16:45 – 17:15 Astrid Kvalbein:

Artistic Research: New Epistemic Cultures in the Academy?

17:15 – 17:45


Marijan Tucaković:

Poetic Theories of Classical Music Performance: Introduction, References and (Practical) Considerations

17:45 – 18:15 Chanda VanderHart・Abigail Gower:

Two [Ivory] Towers? Performers, Modern Musicological Thought and Relevance in Higher Education Settings

18:15 – 18:45 Rolf Bäcker:

Musicology and Artistic Research – Competitors or Allies?

Astrid Kvalbein

Norwegian Academy of Music, Oslo


Artistic Research: New Epistemic Cultures in the Academy?

Over the past 20‒30 years, third cycle programmes for artistic research and development have been established within higher music education in­sti­tutions all over Europe as well as in other parts of the world. The over­all aim of the programmes is to develop and disseminate knowledge about creative and performative labour and to enhance artistic processes as such. Altogether, the projects enrolled in the programmes draw on a wide range of scholarly disciplines, such as art/music history and analysis, philosophy, aesthetics and performance studies, often in the form of cross-disciplinary investigations involving new technologies. The organi­sa­tion, output and forms of documentation do however vary significantly across institutions and countries.

Several principal questions emerge from this rapidly expanding field. Among them are issues of what knowledge anddissemination of know-ledge implies within and between different artistic practices, and in rela­tion to other – often older – scholarly regimes. While some protag­onists claim that we are currently witnessing an “artistic turn” in the after­math of the “performative” and “practice” turns, others criticise the out­put from the programmes as being insufficient either as art or research, or both.

Drawing on selected literature on artistic research, programme descrip­tions, political documents and individual projects, this paper will discuss the alleged “turn” and its potential to bring new epistemic cultures into aca­demia, i. e. “how what counts as knowledge and technology is ac­com­plished in designated settings through specific strategies that gen­er­ate, validate, and communicate scientific accomplishments” (Knorr, Cet­i­na & Reichmann, 2015, p. 873). Particular attention will be paid to con­flicts which might emerge, for instance, between the logics of the pro­fessional art fields and the logics of institutionalised higher music educa­tion and research. Another question is whether artistic research might hold a poten­tial to challenge and revitalise musicology, in times of crisis.

Key words: artistic research, musical practice, epistemic culture

Astrid Kvalbein is a researcher specialised in Nordic and Norwegian music and history from the 1900s to the 2000s, currently the manager of a project on the history of the Norwegian Academy of Music. Her PhD thesis was about the composer and critic Pauline Hall (1890-1969), who also founded the Nor­we­gian section of the International Society for Contemporary Music, Ny Musikk, and as a post-doc, she studied the early modernist composer Fartein Valen (1897-1952). Kvalbein is also a freelance writer and singer, with a particular interest in contemporary music.

Marijan Tucaković

Elly Bašić Music School, Zagreb


Poetic Theories of Classical Music Performance:

Introduction, References and (Practical) Considerations

Classical music performance can be defined as a three-stage process. The pre­paratory phase is to master the work being performed. The second stage is the act of performance – performance itself – followed by the third stage in the form of reaction and consideration of performance. Classical music artist experiences are found in numerous interviews, auto­biographies and music reviews, masterclass workshops and docu­men­taries about individual artists. Based on the consideration and insight of music reproductive artists, it is possible to identify what performers are most preoccupied with and how they approach the challenges of a lay­ered act of performance. Poetically formulated considerations form the basis for the formation of a system that, we may hold, can be considered as poetic theories of classical music performance. Similar examples are well known and classified in theatre studies, e.g. theories of production as Josette Féral defines them. In other words, the theoretical background of our concept ‒ poetic theories of classical music performance ‒ is emerg­ing from the principle of theatre and performance studies: cross­roads of theory and practice, abstractive and an embodied layer of per­formance. We find similar research in the field of musical performance, published and edited by eminent authors such as Nicholas Cook, Guerino Mazzola and John Rink.

Beside references based on theoretical background, this presentation is supported by examples and references by authors such as pianists Arthur Rubinstein, Charles Rosen, Alfred Brendel, Stephen Hough, music jour­nalist Tom Service and conductors Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Mehta, Colin Durrant and Mark Wigglesworth, to name but a few. It seems that the concept of poetic theories of classical music performance may be a bright spot in the field of the science of art, in the time of post-postmodernism and contemporary scientific post-disciplines. Interpreting a musical per­for­mance from a performer’s perspective joins the recent rethinking of music as a performance.

Key words: classical music, performance, poetic theories, pianism, conducting

Marijan Tucaković (Zagreb, 1983), pianist, piano teacher and choral con­ductor, completed his education at the Academy of Music, Zagreb. He is cur­rently finalising his doctoral studies on the PhD Programme in Literature, Performance, Film and Cultural Studies, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sci­ences,University of Zagreb. His professional career includes numerous piano recitals, piano teaching at Elly Bašić Music School, Zagreb and conduct­ing of various choirs. His scientific research is primarily related to Perfor­mance Stud­ies in Art Performance, including performance theory and the practice of pianism and conducting within the context of pianism and con­duct­ing stage presence (concerts/theatre/acting), as well as within the literature, film and cultural context. His papers are published in several pro­fes­sional journals.

Chanda VanderHart1Abigail Gower2

University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna


Two [Ivory] Towers?

Performers, Modern Musicological Thought and Relevance in Higher Education Settings

What is musicology’s reach beyond other musicologists? Musicology clear­ly caters to a limited audience, leading to existential concerns about its sur­vival. An implicit assumption in the field, however, is that musico­log­i­cal thought actively influences and informs musical practitioners, that per­formers are active audiences for musicologists. The extent to which this is the case, however, is questionable. As between any two fields, gaps cer­tainly exist between the worlds of musicology and per­formance, a relation­ship largely established during university/con­serva­tory studies. Better un­der­stand­ing the role and representation of modern musicological thought within the curricula of performance majors is key to ultimately closing any such gaps. This would, in turn, allow for twofold gains: providing musico­logical research on expanded audience and rele­vance, and facilitating the development of more self-aware performing musicians.

In the interest of determining if, to what extent, and how modern musicological thought is represented and how it is perceived by musicians during their higher education studies, a sampling of institutions are exam­ined using socio-musicological approaches. Interviews are conducted with students, alumni and faculty at North American and German/Austrian col­leges, universities, and conservatories to explore what performance majors understand modern musicology to be and to what degree they are aware of developments within the field. Curricula is also scanned for modern musicological perspectives (i.e. publications within the past 30 years), to determine how up-to-date these exchanges are, and what exactly is cur­rently provided in an undergraduate music major in classrooms. These case studies serve as representative samples to determine if, to what extent and how the worlds of modern musicological thought and performance educa­tion intertwine, hypothesising that the future of the relevance of musicol­ogy as a discipline may be contingent on bridging the gap between research and practice.

Key words: teaching structures, university, interdepartmental communication, pedagogy, interdepartmental structures

Chanda VanderHart enjoys a tripartite, interdisciplinary career as a collab­ora­tive pianist, Musikvermittlung expert and historical musicologist. She re­ceived her BA summa cum laude from the Eastman School of Music in solo piano performance, and three further degrees in vocal coaching and accom­pa­niment in Austria studying with Julius Drake, Carolyn Hague, Roger Vi­gnoles and David Aronson, among others. From 2011 to 2016 she conducted intensive source research on programming practices of art song (Lied) and in the second half of the 19th century in Vienna creating a database of over 10,000 performances in Vienna. This formed the basis for her musicological dissertation at the University of Music and Performing Arts Die Entwicklung des Kunstliedes im Wiener Konzertleben zwischen 1848 und 1897 [The Devel­op­ment of Art Concerts in Vienna between 1848 and 1897] which is cur­rently being reworked into a book edited by Susan Youens. In her role as historical musicologist, VanderHart gave lectures last year at the Sorbonne, the Univer­sity of Music and Performing Arts Vienna MDW, The Malta School of Music and the Institute for European Studies. She has publications for MDPI books, the Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg Centre for Popular Culture and Music and authored the lexicon article on Ernestine de Bauduin for MUGI (Music and Gender on the Internet). VanderHart is currently on faculty at the Vienna University of Music and Art).

Abigail Gower is a PhD student in Musicology at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. She comes originally from a performance back­ground, having previously received a BA in piano performance and a MA in collaborative piano. Last year, Gower’s research into the relationship be­tween World War I and musical culture in Paris has been presented in inter­na­tional conferences at Sorbonne University in Paris, and the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. This year she has been the recipient of scholarships for her dissertation from the Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media’s Forschungszentrum Musik und Gender and the Mariann Steegmann Foundation. As part of a separate collaboration, Gower and VanderHarts’ article Shifting Identities of Feminism to Challenge Classical Music Canon Practices: A Beginners Guide to Guerrilla Gender Musicology, is forthcoming in an MDPI Books publication.

Rolf Bäcker

Catalan School of Music for Higher Education (ESMUC), Barcelona


Musicology and Artistic Research – Competitors or Allies?

Amongst the latest earthquakes in the overlapping territories of the arts and the academy there is a new paradigm labelled “artistic research”. A prom­ise of renovation for an all too conservative academy for some and a Black Friday for academic titles according to others, at the heart of the new para­digm lies not research of the arts as much as research through the arts, an approach that one-handedly relegates traditional musicology to the con­serva­tive corner of epistemology.

One cannot but feel reminded of the beginnings of institutionalised musi-cology, when the young discipline fought for recognition by more or less open­ly copying the epistemology of natural sciences. Today, it is the so­cial and economic prestige of academic titles, ever more important in Bolo­gna’s neo-liberal attempt to transform universities into enterprises that attract artists to research. Unlike Adler and followers, though, who assumed scien­tific methods, modern day artists claim to achieve aca­demic recognition by making academic effort as easy as possible, going as far as considering an artistic product in itself to be research.

Perhaps this would not be that serious if musicology had an undisputed aim shared by society and musicologists themselves; unfortunately, the disci­pline has been appropriated by a vast array of political ideologies, and where this has not been the case, it has been degraded to a mere aux­il­iary science for performers. Within this panorama, it is more often than not the critique from the musicological left that joins forces with the artists’ claim for titles, wielding philosophical weapons like subjectivity in auto-ethnogra­phy against the supposed unbearable strictness of biblio­graph­ical research. More than giving a definite answer to the question raised at the begin­ning, this contribution intends to analyse under which circum­stances artistic re­search and musicology can potentially be allies, and what this challenge tells about the state of health of modern-day musicol­ogy.

Key words: artistic research, musicology, aims, methods, academic titles

Rolf Bäcker studied Musicology, Romance Studies and Iberian and Latin American History at the University of Cologne, Germany, where he ob­tained a PhD in Musicology with a thesis on “The Guitar as a Symbol: Meaning and Change within Spain’s Cultural Memory from the Middle Ages to the End of the Siglo de Oro“. He received fellowships from the Instituto Camões, the UOC (Open University of Catalonia) and the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service). He currently works as head of stud­ies and full professor at the ESMUC (Catalan School of Music for Higher Education) in Barcelona, teach­ing German and Latin Phonetics, Aesthetics, Flamenco History, His­to­ry of the 15th and 16th Century Music, and History of Musicology, amongst oth­ers, and is a member of several musicological societies. His main scientific interests, which constantly cross the boundaries between historical musicol­ogy and ethnomusicology, include semiotics and the inter­change between music and literature.

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