Monday, March 13, 2023

Topical overview of the blog posts

A blog is often meant and taken as something ephemeral. However, I noticed how readers look for bygone posts. To make browsing this blog easier, and since doesn't seem to offer this, I hereby list the topics in this blog. I will keep adding to this categorical list as I add posts to the blog, and you should keep seeing it as "featured post".

Matters of discipline

Very brief, first post πŸ‘‰
* What is AR? Opening musings on the question ofdefinition πŸ‘‰
* Breakthrough research πŸ‘‰
- When Composition is not Research πŸ‘‰ 
- When Composition is not Research2 πŸ‘‰
- When Composition is not Research3 πŸ‘‰
- Scott McLaughlin’s report πŸ‘‰
- UK debate & AEC white paper πŸ‘‰
- Composition as critical practice
• the call πŸ‘‰
• the complete published introduction to the proceedings & a bit on the then (2022) most recent UK Research Excellence Framework πŸ‘‰
Conducting πŸ‘‰
* Conflating the arts (SHARE) πŸ‘‰
Countries and their own situations
- The Case of Germany πŸ‘‰
- Brazil πŸ‘‰
- The Netherlands (and the Professional Doctorate) πŸ‘‰
- UK
• REF 2014 πŸ‘‰
• REF 2022 πŸ‘‰
Embodied knowledge and the Frascati Manual
- A move to put our mark on the Frascati Manual πŸ‘‰
- A move to put our mark on the Frascati Manual² πŸ‘‰
- The novelty test and the reproducibility criterion πŸ‘‰
Expertise πŸ‘‰
Florence Principles πŸ‘‰
1st honorary doctorate in AR πŸ‘‰
Non-Western music πŸ‘‰
Novelty test & reproducibility criterion πŸ‘‰
The Professional Doctorate πŸ‘‰
Titles: importance, status, usage
- the sarcastic post πŸ‘‰
- some more in connection with the Professional Doctorate πŸ‘‰ 


AR at the Master level πŸ‘‰
Non-Western music πŸ‘‰
The Professional Doctorate πŸ‘‰

For students

Context πŸ‘‰
The defence of my dissertation at Leiden University, with some history and details of the protocol πŸ‘‰ 
Language πŸ‘‰
- Wagenaar's art πŸ‘‰
- PechaKucha πŸ‘‰ 
The Research Catalogue, the Journal for Artistic Research, and the Society for Artistic Research
- ARC, JAR, SAR πŸ‘‰
- Have you created your first weave yet? πŸ‘‰
- dissemination success, incl. some statistics πŸ‘‰
- Writing about contemporary artists πŸ‘‰
- CD booklets πŸ‘‰

Projects & People

Tom Beghin’s Beethoven Broadwood project πŸ‘‰
Paul Craenen’s PhD πŸ‘‰
Peter Dejans’ honorary doctorate πŸ‘‰
Alain Franco’s WTK project πŸ‘‰
* Michael Picknett’s Devised Music πŸ‘‰
Lauren Redhead πŸ‘‰
Jaso Sasaki πŸ‘‰
Mareli Stolp - Reflexivity πŸ‘‰
Hans Roels πŸ‘‰
Anna Scott & Valentin Gloor: “when Brahms met Debussy” πŸ‘‰
Willem Albert Wagenaar πŸ‘‰
Lena Weman’s Studio Acusticum Organ project πŸ‘‰
Jed Wentz’ PhD πŸ‘‰


the Journal for Artistic Research and the Society for Artistic Research πŸ‘‰
Practice-Research-Unit πŸ‘‰
* SHARE πŸ‘‰
Scottish Journal of Performance πŸ‘‰


ORCiM research festival (Belgium) 2010 πŸ‘‰
Excellence in Research conference (Belgium) 2010 incl. on peer review and the link to things economical πŸ‘‰
Academy for Music and Theory (Belgium) 2011 πŸ‘‰
ORCiM seminar on Artistic Experimentation (Belgium) 2011 πŸ‘‰
Practice-Research-Unit conference (UK) 2011 πŸ‘‰
Oslo symposium The Art of Artistic Research 2011 πŸ‘‰
From Output to Impact conference (Belgium) 2014 πŸ‘‰ 
- call πŸ‘‰
- program πŸ‘‰
- proceedings πŸ‘‰
“Can Composition and Performance be Research?” (UK) 2015 
- anouncement πŸ‘‰ 
- Scott LcLaughlin’s report πŸ‘‰ 
Conference on conducting by the Oxford Conducting Instituut 2015 πŸ‘‰
“Composition as critical practice” (Belgium) 2016 
- call πŸ‘‰ 
- proceedings, incl. complete published introductory essay, & a bit on the then most recent UK Research Excellence Framework πŸ‘‰
Writing about contemporary artists conference (UK) 2017 πŸ‘‰
‘Hands on’ piano conference (Portugal) 2018 πŸ‘‰
Sound Arguments workshops (Belgium) 2023 πŸ‘‰


2013 πŸ‘‰
2014 πŸ‘‰
2014 πŸ‘‰
2016 πŸ‘‰
2017 New Professorship πŸ‘‰
2022 doctoral positions πŸ‘‰


Monday, February 20, 2023

Breakthrough research


                                                               To:       Universal Edition
Karlsplatz 6, 1010
Vienna, Austria

Dear person,

We had a little mishap, some weeks ago. I had been hoping to buy the score of Hans Otte’s 1960 Daidalos from you, but since you don't consider this work as part of the current repertoire, and there are no resources to examine the materials in your archive, you could not but disappoint me.

These are difficult times. To think of how UE was once supported by “important personalities from the banking sector”, as I read on your website, and how the company name “was both program and strategy: it simply meant the whole world of music, in which one had some catching up to do”... Especially noteworthy, I find, is the era of director Alfred Schlee, showing a deep commitment to modernist music.

I always had great sympathy for UE’s efforts to promote such music. Perhaps the first score I ever bought from you – Boulez’ Sonata No. 3 – was not as practical as the pianist in me had wished for (pretty colours, but I could just never get it to stay upright against the music stand), especially at that price. Fortunately, it looks great hanging on the wall.

Despite some less than happy collaborations, UE and I have enjoyed at least a joint faith in the future of music that can be perceivced as difficult. In my consecutive careers as pianist and concert organiser, I have put countless UE scores on the stage. Now I am a researcher, and I find myself potentially aligned with UE’s fate, or at least with its erstwhile ambitions, once again.

A little while ago, the New York Times published the news of how science doesn’t anymore provide the breakthrough research results that society needs in order to thrive. The study criticised ‘incremental science’. One of the authors is a specialist in "strategic management and entrepreneurship", bringing to my mind the image of research managers studying ways to increase the impact of their employees’ work. It made me think of some directors of research institutions that I have known, telling their staff that they were not impressed by research showing how bar six in Berio’s violin Sequenza contains a mistake. It might just about impress a violinist, but it doesn’t change society. So why spend society's money on it, right? Anyway, said study seemed to me an example of incremental progress rather than the disruptive type that it warns us we should be focussing on. 

The NYT article mentioned Einstein’s breakthroughs as being more typical of a past that we don’t seem to connect to anymore. But some of Einstein’s efforts turned out to be proven only relatively recently, didn’t they? So it can be argued, like people such as Schlee did, that disruptions Γ  la SchΓΆnberg's don’t necessarily become apparent or have a societal impact straight away, either. 

Perhaps that moment is upon us, however. I am writing all this because of another bit of news, also about societal changes. As it seems, some of Roald Dahl’s books are being rewritten to suite present-day sensitivities. I can imagine some artists exclaiming that we should leave the past as it was, and that we won’t learn from it if we rewrite it. But we could just as well argue that we rewrite history as soon as we research it. And what's wrong with having multiple perspectives at the same time? If a Dahl story is well rewritten, then it will reach a larger audience, so that a larger number may get excited to go and find the inappropriate original. An enterpreneur would call it a win-win situation.

Anyway, I just got this idea. What if we rewrite SchΓΆnberg? Adjusting his notes to the prevalent taste of today's audiences might not just make his music more “schΓΆn”, it might provide us with a huge opportunity for employing re-composers and publishing their work. And we could disrupt at least the modernist part of the musical society. Imagine all the music from your catalogue that we could finetune! We might even make enough money to pay someone to go look for that Daidalos score in your archive. Maybe a simple overhaul is all it needs to be rescued from its current oblivion.

To show my genuine interest in this idea, I took the liberty of trying it out on one of your company's most succesfull modernist output: SchΓΆnberg’s opus 11. I only took the first few bars, as this is what researchers have traditionally limited themselves to. (In any case, the whole work is also mostly known only to white male pianists, but that is a problem in itself, worthy of a differently focussed research application. It is perhaps best to be disruptive in an incremental way.)

Herewith, I include my rewrite for you to evaluate. There are details to discuss, of course - the f#, for instance - but we can deal with semantics after we agree on the fundamentals. Let me know how it strikes you. I feel confident there is material for an EU application.


I look forward to hearing back from you.

Meanwhile, I remain yours with my best regards.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

The "Professional Doctorate"


Last summer, a festive kick-off was organised to formally introduce the new Dutch initiative of the “Professional Doctorate pilot Arts + Creative” (PD), which aims to cater to artists who want a third cycle degree but not a PhD.

The Dutch landscape has seen quite a few doctoral trajectories already: docARTES, PhDarts, MERIAN, GRASP, Creator Doctus, and RASL. Grosso modo, those can be categorised into the two types that determine much of the wider (ongoing) third cycle degree debate. When the Bologna Declaration, and the nuances in the subsequent Bergen Meeting, initiated the European doctorate for artists, it left the decision on how to flesh out the degree content to the individual actors. Most have gone for a research degree, which has led to collaborations between arts institutions and universities; others have chosen the option of a performance degree, which compares to the well-known D.M.A. in the US. Both (most often) include a written and artistic component, but the primacy and relation of one vs. the other varies: for the research-degree, the candidate has to show how the findings constitute new knowledge and how that changes their practice, while the performance-degree is less dependent on the verbalisation. As much as there are nuances to be found within each of the degree types as offered by institutions, there are also different visions on how they compare, and what exactly (ought to) constitute research. (More on this here.)


The new PD is organised by 15 Dutch arts and design schools, including those who had their own non-PhD program, in the list above, as well as some – e.g. the Amsterdam Hogeschool der Kunsten – who already participate in one of the PhD programs. So the PD is a matter of consolidation as much as a new initiative, countering a hitherto confusingly splintered and unevenly successful landscape.

Of the Dutch programmes listed above, the first four lead to a PhD. Creator Doctus doesn’t (not even a written dissertation is required), and I assume RASL didn’t either – the latter’s webpage has disappeared, probably because it is now part of the PD consortium. As the Creator Doctus program does not accept any applications anymore, I gather that is for the same reason. In any case, Creator Doctus resulted in one artist obtaining a “degree”, and another project was started in 2020. GRASP has not seemed to provide information on participants; MERIAN has two candidates in the running, both visual artists. Interestingly, MERIAN stresses that their PhD is “in Maastricht-style artistic research”, reminding us of how the “Brussels model” (cf. here) was thought out and given its own name to seek distinction at the level of understanding AR.

Since the kick-off, a “pre-PD program” was set up, but that is now finished. This first month of 2023, the pilot is to have started with “a first cohort of candidates in five domains, including the creative domain”, enabling the schools to appoint 34 candidates in total. At the moment of writing this, no music student has entered the pilot. The matter of who will pay for it is not clearly settled, yet. The Dutch government was asked for some 56 million euros for the entire pilot, but I have been told that the organising schools would have to pay for that out of their existing budget.

The only FAQ on the PD site is about the legal question of the title. Elsewhere, it is stated that the PD is the equivalent” of the PhD, demonstrating that it is not the same. (See here for some more on this matter.) The PhD degree is protected to the point that the PD will have to introduce a new name for it, and have that certified by the Dutch government. This will take two years, so the organisers expect to legally secure it before the pilot is concluded. Nevertheless, the wording in the FAQ is carefully chosen so as not to jump the gun: the most optimistic phrase is that “the Minister is positive about the development of the PD phase”, meaning the pilot, not necessarily the acceptance by parliament of the new degree. Oddly, it is stated that [my highlighting]: “following and completing a PD trajectory in the pilot phase (and afterwards) can lead to a broader career perspective and career opportunities.”

The hesitant phrasings are understandable from a legal perspective, but my feeling on this whole initiative is more positive. As a PhD holder myself, this might be surprising, especially given my responsibilities as a co-coordinator of an artistic research PhD program. But I have seen how and understand why many musicians decide not to get a PhD. Most of those who enter a PhD program submit a solo project. Some are involved in ensemble work, but their research is steering the group and its workings. So what about orchestra musicians, who may develop innovations for their instrument and/or their repertoire, but who will have to negotiate with the conductor how much of it they may be permitted to apply on stage? Given the inevitable inflation in degrees, in the next decades, all types of musicians may want a third cycle degree to be able to obtain a faculty position at some conservatoire, not necessarily with any interest in reorienting their careers towards doing research as well as performing. Until now, the only route for a musician towards a third cycle degree in The Netherlands was through the docArtes PhD programme. The PD would give musicians a choice. (In the UK, not having a PhD doesn’t seem to deter musicians from entering academia, although a total absence of an academic degree seems to result in issues of clashing cultures - cf. here.) Personally, I don’t think the PhD programmes will loose applicants to the PD, for I have no doubt the research trajectory will continue to inspire and attract musicians. The only downside I imagine at this point, is that we may continue to see confusion between different degrees and programmes that are called PhD or something seemingly close to it, at least for a while yet, until things settle.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022


In James Parrott's Oscar-winning 1932 Laurel & Hardy movie The Music Box, the two protagonists are trying to deliver a heavy crated player piano up a long stretch of steep, narrow public stairs. At one point (see here, at 10'05") they are confronted by a gentleman coming down those stairs. The actor Billy Gilbert expertly builds up the socially awkard way in which his character tries to cope with the road block. While at first he doesn't seem to know how to communicate efficiently with the two workmen, his temper gets the better of him when they propose he walk around the obstacle. In order to impress upon them the preposterous nature of that suggestion, he employs a full verbalization of his status: "Me, Professor Theodore Von Schwarzenhoffen, M.D., A.D., D.D.S., F.L.D., F.F.F. Γ‘nd F should walk around?" 

The professorial confrontation in The Music Box (1932)

The intonation of the last three words may have the same root as the famous though more recent "handbag" exclamation by British actress Edith Evans. Gilbert has reported that he "decided to do a German accent" to distinguish himself from other actors playing comedy villains with Laurel & Hardy. Even if his memory of that intention was correct, he sounds decidedly more British than German in my ears. Either way, the British upper class is as much a trope in films as is the character of the German professor. Famously, the 1920 Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari and the 1930 Der Blaue Engel had depicted authoritarian but socially inept and alienated figures that are given academic nomers. Some have taken this as far as argueing that this would be symptomatic of a subconscious need in German society for a tyrant to lead them, but the mad certified expert had taken hold in other corners of the cinematic world as well, and even earlier, cf. the 1902 French Le Voyage dans la lune, with the character of Professor Barbenfouillis "satirizing the pretensions of professors and scientific societies." 

Asserting one's social position by way of titles also resonates with the British class and honours systems, of course. It ought not to be surprising, therefore, that it has been singled out for comedic effect on the Anglo-Saxon island just as much, if not more. Professor Von Schwarzenhoffen may have accumulated some six titles (of which only Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Dental Surgery make obvious academic sense), Monty Python went all the way in the 19th sketch of their 1970 "How to recognize different parts of the body" (see here), where an omnidisciplinary surgeon has so many titles to display on his office desk that a special construction was needed to mount them all. As in The Music Box, only some of the degrees listed are potentially real. And as much as Von Schwarzenhoffen's F.F.F still possibly refers to something medical (e.g. the otolaryngological abbreviation for Fibula Free Flap), the Python sketch also pokes fun at the denominational traditions themselves: if you were FRSFRCSFRCP, as well as FRCOG, and trained at Oxford, it would have been perceived as less than imposing to add that you had an M.S. from Guadalajara; "B.Litt (Phil)" points not only to the confusing historical relation between the British Bachelor of Letters and Doctor of Philosophy, but goes on to joke on "Phil"; etc. (And yes, Medicine Hat is a place in Canada.)

Monty Python's The Nose sketch, with Professor Sir Adrian Furrows F.R.S. F.R.C.S. 
F.R.C.P. M.D.M.S. (Oxon), M.A. Ph.D. M.Sc. (Cantab), Ph.D. (Syd), F.R.G.S., 
F.R.C.O.G., F.F.A.R.C.S., M.S. (Birm), M.S. (Liv), M.S. (Guardalajara [sic]),
M.S . (Karach), M.S. (Edin), B.A. (Chic), B. Litt. (Phil), D. Litt (Phil),
D. Litt (Arthur and Lucy), D. Litt (Ottawa), D. Litt (All other places in Canada
t Medicine Hat), B. Sc. (Brussels, Liege, Antwerp, Asse, (and Grower))

TV and film tropes are only that because of a basis in real life. And that real life concerns not only historical figures, as for instance Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener, KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, PC (1850-1916). Still today, post-nominals seem important to some. I have received emails signed "Dr. [X], BMus, MMus, PhD, Hon RCM, FRSA". And when I witnessed the setting up of a research group, with the members to be called "fellows", there was first a debate about how to distinguish post- from pre-docs (solved easily enough by adding "doctoral"), then about allowing for seniority on the post-doc level itself. For years, it wasn't clear whether a fellow was just that, or whether s/he was in fact a senior fellow who didn't play along.

In wider social circumstances, abbreviated titles can lead to "knight fever" for those who are not to the manor bornhow to address someone with pre- and post-nominals, what is the right order of the titles on the seating distribution cards,...? In a professional context, it can of course be important to know who has which type of expertise, exactly. Collaborating with a PhD can be different from working with a D.M.A. (But, yes, Dr. Phil had a proper DPhil degree.) 

Naturally, homo ludens sometimes nuances things into the unworkable, making for some counterefficient situations. For some, the real doctorate is only the DPhil. This is generally considered the same as PhD (philosophiae doctor = doctor philosophiae), "the most common degree at the highest academic level awarded following a course of study", but which is nevertheless only one of e.g. the 51 doctoral titles in the U.S. alone. Next to it, a number of "equivalent" doctoral degrees are recognized, for instance the D.A. (occasionally D.Arts or Art.D.), and neither the US Department of Education nor their National Science Foundation discriminate between them. Already in 1967, this Doctor of Arts degree was offered in Fine Arts as well as History, English, and ... Mathematics. It is even reported that a National Doctor of Arts Association (NDAA) was founded at the State University of Idaho. If only the current address were disclosed, so that one could properly apply to become a fellow.

Not all countries are that open. In 2011, the German Prof. Dr. iur. Dr. h.c. Peter M. Lynen defensively argued for a doctorate in the arts to be a dr. Art and dr. Mus rather than a PhD (see my post on The case of Germany). And despite being alleged as having "defined the differences between a Doctorate in the Arts compared to a scientific doctorate or Ph.D. degree", the 2016 Florence Principles on the Doctorate in the Arts (see here) acknowledge the different names that institutes give (p. 4: "DCA, DPhil, PhD, DFA") but nevertheless proceed to talk about PhDs.

If Peter Lynen lists two doctorates among his prenominals, one earned (in law) and one honorary, it goes to show that the distinction is deemed necessary. To boot: not every doctor becomes professor, and not every professor is a professor. In my home town (Ghent, Belgium), a conservatoire teacher is a "docent" (member of the faculty), but for international communications, some will translate this as "professor". Of course, that annoys the "ordinary professor" ("gewoon hoogleraar") at the university, who already has to contend with the fact that s/he is - counterintuitively - ranked higher than the "extraordinary professor" ("buitengewoon hoogleraar").

Outside of the DCA, DFA and PhDs, artistic research also has e.g. Dr. Artium and Creator Doctus. This creativity in avoiding the name PhD is rooted in the protection that universities seek against the possible erosion of their quality standards at the level of the PhD. Hence the issue of having 'degree-awarding power' or not. Not every country allows its universities to just start a doctoral program, so not every university will like to see Fine Arts institutes or conservatoires granting a PhD without having the necessary certifications themselves. That is why most non-university art institutions collaborate with a (nearby) university, accepting the latter to rule on the use of titles. In The Netherlands, a new artistic research doctoral trajectory will be tested from January 2023 onwards, catering to musicians who don't want to do a PhD, and it is already clear that a new name will have to be chosen (possibly 'PD', as in 'professional doctorate' - see my next post). 

Even those who are still working towards getting a PhD (or an equivalent) can be confronted with issues of titles. Again in The Netherlands, the law allows those with a masters to automatically consider themselves as "doctoranda/doctorandus" (dra./drs.), i.e. on the way to getting a doctorate - whether actually enrolled or even planning for it or not. Because of the obvious confusion, a student in a doctoral trajectory is now called "promovenda/us".

There are reasons for keeping certain distinctions, even beyond knowing what expertise you are seeking to engage with. When I coordinated a doctoral program in artistic research, I got emails from a US student who wanted to know if ours was leading towards "a fully-fledged" PhD. If it weren't, she thought she might as well stay in the US to obtain a DMA, which she said was a "second rate degree", meaning that too many already had one, so that a PhD was more efficient in securing a job. Hence the professional doctorate having tried to NOT have to look for a name that isn't PhD. This is close to what is known - in The Netherlands, once more - the "civil effect". That term is used for specifically graded legal degrees in order for them to be valid for certain professional activities. If you did the mandatory years of law school but you did not take some particular courses, the civil effect is not indicated on the degree and you can therefore not become e.g. a notary. Such particular practices do not as a rule apply to artistic research, but it is not difficult to imagine a director of a conservatoire, in some not-too-distant future, having to fill a vacancy and choosing from a large number of applicants of which most have a masters and only some have a doctorate. That director may be hard pressed not to use degree ranking as a short cut. (This speculation is supported by OECD numbers from 2019 on labour market outcomes - see pp.252-253 here.) At any rate, when I was offered my coordinator job, it was made explicitly clear that this was mainly because of my degree - "we can no longer have someone with a masters running a doctoral curriculum". And the times are long gone when it looked cool to say, like one of my conservatoire friends in another century: "I think I should like to go to Paris and get a baccalaurΓ©at in something".

Thursday, December 15, 2022

New doctoral positions


The Academy of Music and Drama, a department of the Univerity of Gothenborg’s Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts, offers two salaried positions for doctoral students. The subject is musical performance and interpretation.

Interestingly, there is a choice of type of doctoral degree: either a PhD or an artistic doctorate. (More on that distinction on this blog, next month.)

Applications must be in before February 1, 2023 – the positions start on September 1 of that year.

These employment positions are the only way to apply for PhD studies at this Academy.

All information here.

Friday, December 09, 2022

Sound Arguments


The Orpheus Instituut (Gent) and ACPA (Leiden) are teaming up to introduce Sound Arguments, “an innovative laboratory-atelier for creative artists dealing with sound.”

Topics include hardware hacking & DIY electronics, live & creative coding, digital fabrication & 3D printing, field recording, and much more.

Guests include Arditto, CΓ‘rdenas, Collins, Eckhardt, Krogh Groth, Lane, Lucatelli, Marangoni, Caeso, and van Belle.


Bob George: Duet (1977)

Sound Arguments will meet monthly from February to June, on Mondays 2-6pm and Tuesdays 9am-3pm. The 2023 dates are:

  • February 27-28 (The Hague)
  • March 27-28 (The Hague)
  • April 17-18 (Gent)
  • May 15-16 (Gent)
  • June 5-6 (Gent)

Application is open until January 16, but BE AWARE that the number of applicants will be limited!

More details and registration here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022


The 32nd ANPPOM congress in Brazil, last month, was informative, to say the least. Held in the north-eastern coastal city of Natal, with the southern hemisphere's spring well underway, the biotope was more conducive to exploration than the European Autumn I came from. Airconditioning was necessary, of course, even in concert halls during performances, but this proved to be much like listening to a clavichord recital: like the ears easily adjust to the lower dynamic levels of the old keyboard instrument, they quickly learn to filter out the noise of the air conditioners when listening to a colourfully soft piece played on a Steinway. More surprising were the efforts of the organizers towards inclusivity: not only was there space for children from 4 to 6 years old, the presenters were asked to introduce themselves to the visually impaired by describing some characteristics of their countenance, and the whole conference was simultaneously translated in English (for the foreign guests), Portuguese (when the foreign guests presented), and sign language. Curious to know how large the hearing-impaired conference participation had been expected to be, I was told there probably weren't any, but that putting in this type of effort results in the crucially important perception of an inclusive environment. (I later saw that the video recordings of the presentations were being posted on YouTube, where the sign language will no doubt have a more direct effect.)

National Association for Research and Graduate Studies in Music

Impressive as they were, these peripheric practicalities didn't deter from discovering some eye-opening facts about artistic research in Brazil. The conference topic's title - Multiple dimensions of musical praxis in the production of knowledge - was certainly broad enough to allow for the announced intention "to foster a broad debate", but of notable interest, at least to me, was how this production of knowledge was detailed as "scientific-musical knowledge in Brazil". Even if the conference's promotional texts didn't include the words 'artistic research', they were clearly intended to be part of whatever can be understood by the relations between scientific and musical practices. As broad as the conference's content had been intended, as diverse it turned out to be. Large ethno- and historiographic perspectives were deployed to discuss knowledge production as well as interculturality, social impact, and training, but there was quite a bit of live performance as well, with even sizable groups of musicians spontaneously participating in enthusiastically welcomed sessions of choro and samba in the university's hallway.

The congress was held at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, one of the ten largest universities in Brazil. It's Arts Department (including performance, dance, design, and theatre) spreads over 4,000m², which it considers as potential "to bring the community closer to the academic environment". Indeed, musicologists and musicians work under the same roof, even when there is no conference to unite them. This is quite distinct from the situation on the European continent, where academics and musicians are seen and treated as separate, not only in their identity, but in their work locations as well as through the legal and financial structures. (See here for some insights into how far this can be taken.) In their self-presentation, the UFRN arts department further singles out knowledge production and the link between art and research. However, in the curriculum there is nothing on artistic research, specifically. But there are courses on research in the visual arts and in art teaching, as well as modules in academic and creative writing. Also noteworthy is the absence of musical composition. 

Last August, Bibiana Bragagnolo and Leonardo Pellegrim Sanchez mapped artistic research in Brazil (see here) based on keyword searches in 45 journal articles in four journals. Though the sample size is small, some interesting insights can be gleaned from it. It is argued that the beginnings of artistic research in Brazil are situated around 2012, in the Southern region, with expansion into the South- and North-east in 2017/18. Since then, the increase in production seems to follow that which is perceived abroad. The foreign influence is especially visible in the cited literature, with the Mexican Ruben LΓ³pez-Cano (18 references), the Flemish Kathleen Coessens (16), the Dutch Henk Borgdorff (10), and Catarina Domenici (10) as the only Brazilian author frequently cited. Borgdorff's 2012 book The Conflict of the Faculties was cited the most because of (and since) a part of it was translated into Portuguese in 2017. The popularity of Ruben LΓ³pez-Cano's output is analysed as due to its Spanish language (with one article in Portuguese), as well as thanks to the more didactic nature, illustrating AR and its methodology rather than emphasizing a theoretical focus as in Coessens and Borgdorff. 

It is further shown that artistic research is still inscribed more in the context of graduate rather than undergraduate studies, and located within the academic production of interpretive performance practices. 

Bragagnolo and Sanchez conclude with the remark on the coexistence of different conceptions and perspectives on AR, with two main methodological categories: the theoretical and the autoethnographic. The latter encompasses "quite different texts", and it has been stated that, in many cases, autoethnography has become a "mere transcription of work diaries that do not construct questions or defined artistic research problems".

In 2020, LΓ³pez-Cano considered Latin-American artistic research in music to be in the early stages of construction, lamenting the lack of associations dedicated exclusively to artistic research, specialized journals, etc. Nevertheless, some movement towards consolidation is to be highlighted, with, already a year later, the creation of the Brazilian Observatory and Artistic Research Laboratory (at the Federal University of Mato Grosso) with an e-book on artistic research in the works, and the first Autoethnografia Brasil conference. In 2022, the Claves journal plans a thematic issue.

It is interesting to learn how artistic research started in Brazil. In 1987, concern about music education and research led to a national symposium (SINAPEM - see here), which in turn led to the creation of ANPPOM and of the first music journal in Brazil. In the first years of ANPPOM, most of the research at their conferences was from the part of music education and musicology. Both of these fields are still the most prominent of music research in the country - performance is the smallest. But in 2011 the latter expanded, and a year later, as a consequence, the Brazilian Association of Music Performance was created. It's first conference, in 2013, had Artistic Research as the main theme.

Considering this link between research and education, there's the question of artistic research training. As the arts curricula are part of the university biotope, verbalized reflection is naturally embedded: there is no masters degree to be gotten without writing. And PhDs are possible, e.g. "in music/performance". Composition's place in all of this remains remarkable, though. For composers of a previous generation, this has sometimes been a matter of mixing fields, for instance as part of a PhD in communications (semiotics). This is not the case anymore, but traces can be seen, e.g. at the Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro, with the research strands "Language and Musical Structuring" and "Creative Processes in Music", both which programs cater to composers envisaging a PhD. The last paragraph of the latter indicates how the meaning of 'composition' has developed away from the old 'writing music onto paper' type that has been distinguished for so long from the practice of the performers. At the same time, the former strand still demonstrates remnants of the older approach. Here is an example of how post-graduate research projects are distinguished along the lines of education, musicology, composition, and performance, at the Music School of another university in Rio de Janeiro.

Map of Brazil superimposed over Europe

All in all, the most striking to me remains the fact that artistic researchers in Brazil can work under the umbrella of music research as much as musicologists. In Europa, perhaps literally due to its high population density, researchers in music tend to see each other as competitors for space, arguing divisively over money as well as identity. Obviously, a very large country has issues of its own, if also to unite and find financial support. But, at least in some of the aspects touched upon above - and I would add: in more matters of umbrella functionality than merely in artistic research - it would be nice if Europe could be a bit more Brazilian.


I am grateful to Bibiana Bragagnolo, Magno Caliman, Joana Cunha de Holanda, Paulo Dantas and Luis Silva Queiroz for their help in finding sources and pointing out nuances.