Final Activity Report (March 2018)

The research project ‘Experimentation versus Interpretation: Exploring New Paths in Music Performance in the Twenty-First Century’ (MUSICEXPERIMENT21) involved a group of researchers studying and proposing transformations of concepts and practices in the musical performance of Western notated art music. The project invented new modes of performance based on the notion of ‘experimentation’, and it created several transdisciplinary bridges and discourses between music, historiography, philosophy, epistemology, and aesthetics. In addition to its Principal Investigator (a trained concert pianist, composer and musicologist), the team included performers, composers, musicologists, philosophers, and artists with different backgrounds and fields of expertise.

The crucial conceptual achievements of the project have been four:

(1) a new ontology of musical works, which are now considered from a perspective related to Assemblage Theory (see Paulo de Assis’s _Logic of Experimentation_), and that considers musical works as assemblages;

(2) new research and creative methodologies structured around a tripartite modus operandi (archaelogy, genealogy, problematisation);

(3) a fusion of composition and performance grounded on a new understanding of the musical practitioner as an operator rather than as an interpreter (see Lucia D’Errico’s _Powers of Divergence_); and

(4) a radical epistemology grounded on the notion of ‘experimental system’, that fosters the openness and plurality of experimental practices (see Michael Schwab’s _Experimental Systems. Future Knowledge in Artistic Research_).

The artistic achievements of the project are presented in its four multimedia outputs (one LP on the music of Maderna, two CDs on music by Luigi Nono, and one double DVD on Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations), as well as in more than fifty multimedia entries in the web-based platform Research Catalogue. In relation to the specific case studies, the following results are particularly relevant: a new edition, including a new reconstructed tape to Luigi Nono’s composition _…..sofferte onde serene…_ (see the two CD’s using the new tape); six compositional commissions that follow the notion of ‘derivative functions’ to generate ‘derivative pieces’ from Beethoven’s _Diabelli Variations_ and from other musical works from the past (see _Powers of Divergence_).

In terms of communication and dissemination of results, an innovative use of web resources based upon the Research Catalogue has been successfully tested in the form of modular research ‘expositions’, which are web-based collections of different materials that relate to the real-world performances that generated them.

The main cross-disciplinary developments included expansions toward (1) Philosophy, in particular to Post-deleuzian studies (see the two volumes _The Dark Precursor_); (2) Epistemology, especially in relation to Hans-Jörg Rheinberger’s ‘experimental systems’ (see _Experimental Systems. Future Knowledge in Artistic Research_); (3) Music Aesthetics, in relation to new ontologies and new methodologies for artistic practices (see _Artistic Experimentation in Music: An Anthology_).

The core researchers of MUSICEXPERIMENT21 have been: Dr. Paulo de Assis (Principal Investigator), Dr. Michael Schwab, Dr. Juan Parra Cancino, and PhD student Lucia D’Errico.