Thursday, November 13, 2014

ORCiM Seminar "From Output to Impact"



Next week, the ORCiM seminar “From output to impact” will take place at the Orpheus Institute (Gent, Belgium). I am posting about this not only because I am the convener, but mostly because the topic is – I believe – of enormous potential and importance. 


Citing from the call:

"Musical training of Western canonical score-based repertoire as well as improvisation and non-Western music is traditionally built upon the master-disciple relation. Students at a conservatory are often still taught their trade by one teacher as the main influence; teachers can be put on the payroll without having to show in how far they are up to date with (and apply) the most recent findings in their field of expertise; one-to-one teaching is very much prevalent in instrumental and compositional teaching; instrument and composition teachers are not the most common contributors to the academic journals that are subscribed to by the libraries of their institutions; etc. With the recent developments in Artistic Research (AR), a type of knowledge is being explored that pertains very much to the music practitioner. While it focusses directly on the musician's practice, it applies the latter as part of the investigative method, and aims at impacting that practice, this type of knowledge has not previously been generated explicitly. Now, AR is supported and carried out with an ever-growing intensity and speed, and across educational and institutional levels: the European Association of Conservatoires considers AR as a gateway to the profession, implying that the impact of AR is to extend beyond the mere integration of AR skills in the curriculum (e.g. a Master in AR) to include the application of current AR output. As a consequence, a range of questions arises that enquires into the possible modes of integrating insights generated through AR into the instrumental practice being taught, all the while allowing for the realities of musical training being fed back into AR."


The seminar starts on November 19, at about noon, and ends the next day in the afternoon. The exact time schedule can be found here.

To frame the debate in a wide perspective, the keynote by Prof. Dr. Dirk Van Damme, head of Innovation and Measuring Progress Division in the OECD Directorate for Education and Skills, will deal with The knowledge triangle in the arts: How research, innovation and education interact.

Dirk Vandamme, artistic research, conference, from output to impact

Next to the launch of the Association of European Conservatoires and Hochschules' new handbook Perspectives on 2nd-Cycle programmes in Higher Music Education: combining a research orientation with professional relevanceand a concert showcasing artistic research output ready to be allowed its impact on instrumental training, the seminar program will run parallel sessions that include a very rich content relating to sub topics such as:


The Larger Perspective
  • Drew Hammond: At the intersection between expression and investigation: a liberal arts graduate examines the conservatoire environment.
  • Bernard Lanskey: Culturing fresh growth: the conservatory as incubator?
  •  Paul Craenen: Zooming out on artistic research results.
  •  Anthony Gritten: Musical passages between output and impact.
  •  Joost Vanmaele: The informed practitioner: mediating between the information galaxy and the piano-studio.
  • Michiel Schuijer: When craft becomes profession: the case of the conservatoire.

In Practice
  • Magdalena Bork & Maria Gstaettner: Quo vadis, Teufelsgeiger? (Where to, Devil's Fiddler?). The impact of the artistic project findings on the curriculm development in performance studies in Vienna.
  • Daniel Leech-Wilkinson: Preparing to escape Utopia.
  • Jeroen Billiet: “Avis aux Amateurs”:  integrating artistic research output into elementary music education.
  • Anna Scott & Alessandro Cervino: The reflective piano Class: a self-generating experiment regarding the reflexivity of artistic research and higher instrumental training.

Impact Back
  • Aslaug Louise Slette & Ingunn Fanavoll Øye: Aural training knowledge in music rehearsing.
  • Susan Williams: Training musicians: implementing research into practice.
  
Creativity & Feeling
  •  Beate Perrey: Hard Facts, feelings and forms of persuasion.
  • Johannes Boer: Playing by the rules. Creativity and research in historical performance.

Models Framed
  •  Tom De Cock & Vincent Caers: Improving the efficiency of practice and performance in contemporary percussion repertoire.
  • Murphy LcCaleb: Developing ensemble musicians.
  • Elisabeth Belgrano: Learning and teaching through madness: using the metaphor of a 17th century operatic mad scene for supervision in higher performing arts education based on artistic research.
  • Amy Blier-Carruthers: How I learned to stop worrying and love the studio: a professional and paradigmatic approach to preparing musicians for recording.


This seminar is organized in collaboration with the Centre of Excellence in Music Performance Education of the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo. The full potential of the topic will be explored in a longer-term effort, with NAM aiming to put together a follow-up seminar in Oslo in November 2015. 
Norwegian Academy of Music, artistic research, conference, from output to impact

Proceedings of next week’s incarnation will be produced online in the coming months.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Dr. Picknett's wondrous world of devised music





I heard composer, director and performer Michael Picknett for the first time at the June 2013 conference on “Music and/as process”, in Huddersfield, where he presented “Who are we watching? Performing Devised Processes in Music”. Last month, he got his PhD in music composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, on the topic of “Devising Music. Applying Creative Approaches from Dance and Theatre to Music Composition”.


Michael Picknett, artistic research, devising

Michael Picknett


Devising is a term known from contemporary dance or theatre. But, as Michael has shown, the techniques and approaches can equally be applied to creating music. In its simplest form, devising refers to any collaborative creative practice that begins with the performers and is generated through their responses to tasks. Tasks can take the form of instructions, questions, rules or games. As the performers create the material, it can be shaped by the composer or director by refining the tasks or setting the materials to form a finished piece.

Michael’s dissertation (to be downloaded for free here) is accompanied by three DVDs with audio-video materials (also available online), deals with the history and terminology of ‘devising’, discusses five compositions of his, and ends with two appendices (an interview with collaborating musicians, and related compositional approaches, practices and works).

Focusing on finding ways of developing his devised music practice through an understanding and application of devising approaches found in theatre and dance, Michael has explored the practices of three strikingly different devising companies: the American theatre company The Wooster Group, the German dance company Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, and the British theatre collective Forced Entertainment. These are representative of the diversity of work that can emerge from a devising process, which give some indication of the nature of the process Michael has been investigating within his own practice.


Michael Picknett, artistic research, devising, Ne Pleure Pas, Alfred

Ne Pleure Pas, Alfred (picture from performance)


In Ne Pleure Pas, Alfred, a duet for two percussionists, Michael looks at transposing physical and semantic practices from devised theatre and dance onto composition, and how musical product differs from creative process. The solo piano The Carter Piece served to examine the enabling of “a sufficiently rich relationship between performer and project as to allow the piece to adapt to the context of a performance”, leading to the concepts of performers as score and projects that age and even expire. In Apologetics 1 for harp and bass clarinet, laboratory practice is explored, i.e. “work on ideas that were not necessarily going to be performed, but that informed our practice in both performance and creation”. This piece changed in between performances, contrary to Ne Pleure Pas, Alfred (no development between performances) and The Carter Piece (reacting to the environment in the moment of performance). Water Music – a piece “about breathing” for two performers – uses the performer’s autobiography and investigates the aesthetic of failure and non-acting. Finally, Apologetics 3, “a play for musicians”, focusses on the relationships between performer and material.

See a promo video for Apologetics here (4'), and of Water Music here (14'39")


Michael Picknett, artistic research, devising, Carter Piece

Carter Piece (picture from performance)


In a chapter on devising projects from the performer’s perspective, ideas of trust and ownership are discussed. The ‘related compositional practices’ are about scores with increased performer input, collaborative composition of solo repertoire (e.g. Berio’s Sequenza III for Cathy Berberian), composers with their own ensemble (e.g. Steve Reich), Scelsi’s Canti Del Capricorno and Kagel’s work with his Cologne Ensemble for new Music, and devising practices in the works of Heiner Goebbels and Meredith Monk.

As a performer, I have been appreciating Michael’s research for several reasons: applied to musical composition, the devising practice throws extra light on a host of aspects of the performer’s position in music making, from experimental performer-composer practices to the way ensembles such as the Gruppo di Improvvisazione di Nuova Consonanza established and refined modes of collective improvisation, and from theoretical notions of co-authorship and -creativity, openness of musical form, theatricalities, authenticity (e.g. Peter Kivy’s “personal authenticity”), etc., to attitudes towards cultural practices, such as the music sector’s near-obsession with documenting performances vs. the appreciation in theatre and dance of an ephemeral nature of producing and experiencing art. Even if I grew up, professionally speaking, with and in an industry that is built on prioritizing “the perfect statement of an objective pattern”, which goes against “the beauty of a human condition in performance”, I like the idea of the latter especially because it provides potential to artistic development – mine as well as that of audiences.

On another level, I enjoy thinking of Michael’s project as a fine example of AR in composition. As a concept and as a practice, compositional research is far from unproblematic, and I really wish to go into this in a separate post. Suffice it to state that I have still witnessed painfully few compositional PhD projects that I would comfortably qualify as AR. Many are artistic endeavors (however valid, aesthetically speaking) with an analytical or even just a descriptive appendix that fails to demonstrate an impact on compositional practice, others consist of theorizing about philosophical concepts that are related to but that reveal more about the power of the concepts than about the composition or the practice behind it. Michael’s dissertation is also very descriptive, but it shows the huge potential of applying a method that has proven to generate artistic merit in theatre and dance to composition, with results that create both artistic value and promise for further exploration by other artists and/or researchers.


Michael Picknett, artistic research, devising, Repeat Indefinitely

Repeat Indefinitely (picture from rehearsal)




Monday, June 16, 2014

From Output to Impact



One of the socially most relevant aspects of research is the passing on of newly acquired knowledge. At universities, where research and teaching positions are combined, such transfers are self-evident, even though they are not necessarily immediate. Musical training of Western canonical score-based repertoire as well as improvisation and non-Western music is traditionally built upon the master-disciple relation, with conservatoire students often being taught their trade by one teacher as the main influence, and with teachers profiles that favor concert careers over proof of how far they are up to date with (and apply) the most recent findings in their field of expertise. Conversely, instrument and composition teachers are not the most common contributors to the academic journals that are subscribed to by the libraries of their institutions.   




With the recent developments in Artistic Research (AR), a type of knowledge is being explored that pertains very much to the music practitioner. While it focusses directly on the musician's practice, it applies the latter as part of the investigative method, and aims at impacting that practice, this type of knowledge has not previously been generated explicitly. Now, AR is supported and carried out with an ever-growing intensity and speed, and across educational and institutional levels: the European Association of Conservatoires considers AR as a gateway to the profession, implying that the impact of AR is to extend beyond the mere integration of AR skills in the curriculum (e.g. a Master in AR) to include the implementation of current AR output. As a consequence, a range of questions arises, enquiring into the possible modes of integrating AR insights into the instrumental and compositional practice being taught, all the while allowing for the realities of musical training being fed back into AR. Such enquiries touch upon the fundaments of the conservatoire biotope, targeting aspects such as the authority of the teacher, the structure and content of the 'lesson', the efficiency with which existing journals connect to students and teachers, the possible friction between the cutting edge AR output and the conservational reflexes that link up with the industry (often the orchestra) for which students are prepared, or between the goal of training students to be self-directed (cf. Dublin Descriptors) vs. the collective effort of building new knowledge through research.




It is clear that this topic is crucial to the development of both AR and artistic personalities. Since the potential and urgency are huge, I'm organising a conference to explore "From Output to Impact - The Integration of Artistic Research Results into Musical Training", to take place at the Orpheus Institute (Ghent), and organised together with the Centre of Excellence in Music Performance Education (NAM, Oslo). The keynote will be held by Prof. Dr. Dirk Van Damme, head of Innovation and Measuring Progress Division in the OECD Directorate for Education and Skills.




The deadline for proposals is August 25, 2014. More practical details here

Thursday, May 01, 2014

IRCAM PhD positions in compositional research



As announced on the IRCAM website (in French only, according to an ancient tradition, and translated by yours truly):



Research in composition

From Septembre 2014

Université Paris-Sorbonne IV, Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC), Sorbonne Universités, Ircam
  
Call for candidacy: first forthnight of May on the Ulysses platform
Selection: in June
  
Contact : info-pedagogie@ircam.fr





The implementation of the LMD [bachelor-master-doctorate] system in European higher education institutions implies the need to create these diplomas or their respective degrees (bachelor, master and doctorate) in educational systems where they did not exist before. It also means that the doctoral degree is more generally required for access to teaching positions, even in schools where it did not exist before. A PhD in music, while it existed in Anglo-Saxon countries (UK and U.S.), was not usual in continental Europe, where musical practice is traditionally taught in conservatories and colleges of music rather than at a university. Numerous European countries, faced with this problem, set up doctorates in music, often in the context of collaboration between university and conservatory.

The doctorate in music composition research, organized in collaboration with the University of Paris -Sorbonne, the Pierre and Marie Curie University (UPMC) and IRCAM, is part of this now inevitable movement. Different from the doctorate in musicology, it is aimed at high-level composers holding a master (or an equivalent degree, along with significant experience in composition), who notably propose projects integrating a technological dimension in the compositional process, and eager to pursue a dual career as composer and researcher. The degree awards a double competence of composer, of which the final degree work attests, and researcher, materialized in the defense of a thesis.

Doctoral training is provided jointly by the three institutions; it includes doctoral courses and joint seminars, issued by the Paris-Sorbonne University , UPMC and IRCAM. The degree is based on the production of creative works (which have to relate to the research project) and on the defense of the doctoral thesis before a jury of the partner institutions.



Research topics

This doctorate is open to candidates wishing to conduct their research from one or more of the topics from (but not limited to) the following list:
Material , form and meaning: categories and musical parameters, computer-assisted composition, music/sound/noise, semiotics, thematism and expressiveness.

Instrument and performer: performance modes, gesture, collaboration of performer/composer, acoustic analysis, extended instruments, electronic instrument making.

Voice, text, word: relations music/text, linguistic and phonological/phonetic approaches, semantics and expression, speech synthesis and processing, plurality of languages.

Orchestration , instrumentation: treaties and rules (from the explicitation of the craft to formalization), timbre and instrumentation, computer assisted orchestration.

Interactivity: sound installations, mixed music, improvisation, multimedia.
Sound space and stage: dramaturgy, scenography, opera, theater, architecture, sound spatialisation.

Methodology and transversal aspects: theory and analysis, collaborative creation, process documentation, qualitative and quantitative approaches, perception and cognition, aesthetics and philosophy of art.




The admittance procedure is organised on a competitive bases.

This cycle is open to candidates wishing to jointly practice a high level composer activity and conduct research leading to a thesis in the field of musical creation, all the while aiming for taking part in a dynamic professional employability.

Candidates must hold a national master degree or degrees of CNSMDP or CNSMDL conferring the rank of master, or having studied abroad at a level deemed equivalent by the graduate school, or enjoying validated academic achievements, and demonstrate experience in composition as evidenced by a record of works, a description of which is specified in the call for applications.
Two candidates are selected annually. 

Contracts will be awarded to two candidates.

Opening of the call for applications: the first half of May 2014.










Monday, February 10, 2014

New practice-based PhD positions



The Stockholm University of the Arts (Uniarts) announces ten practice-based Ph.D. positions where the focus is put on the artistic process:

    – Two in Choreography
    – Two in Media
    – Two in Opera
    – Two in Performing arts
    – Two in Visual Art – in collaboration with the Royal Institute of Art


Applications are accepted until February 28, 2014. All info here.


Stockholm University of the Arts, new PhD position, artistic research