Research Background (2013)

In a process that was particularly enhanced in the 20th century, the performance of musical ‘works’ became a complex articulation of different types of data, information and knowledge, retraceable in diverse material sources (including sketches, instruments, editions, recordings), in reflective discourses (in, on and about music), and in multifarious performance ‘styles’ (‘mainstream’, ‘historically informed’, ‘neo-objective’, and so on). The continuous accumulation and sedimentation of such kinds of knowledge and practices represents an exponential growth of complexity that involves technical, artistic, aesthetic and epistemic components. As a consequence, musical ‘works’ seem no longer to have an indisputable ontological character, which is now seen as dependent on their history, epistemic complexity, contextualisation and use. The dismantling of musical ‘works’ into their graspable constitutive elements reveals them as complex accumulations of singularities, as multi-layered amalgamations of ‘things’ (Kubler, 1962/2008; Brown, 2001), disclosing open-ended possibilities for infinite new assemblages. More than aiming at simply (re)creating or (re)producing a ‘work’ through performance, what is at stake in ME21 are the processes that constitute musical ‘things’ as objects for thought through performative devices.

Methodologically, the work is organised in different but interrelated approaches: identifying and scrutinizing musical ‘things’ that define a given musical work; studying their epistemic complexity; extracting them out of their traditional context; inserting them within the confines of experimental systems, and, finally exposing them anew, in previously unheard reconfigurations of materials. Focusing on the actual doing, ME21 aims at providing concrete examples of real (in this case: sonic) results in the field of artistic research.

In addition to theoretical investigations of musicologically, philosophically and epistemologically relevant concepts and debates, crucial to ME21 objective is the material engagement in artistic practice, including the generation of concrete artistic outputs by the Principal Investigator (PI) and other team members. Combining theoretical investigation with the concrete practice of music, ME21 presents a case for change in the field of musical performance.

ME21 is hosted within the Orpheus Institute, benefiting from and contributing to the wider discourse of Artistic Experimentation which is the Centre’s current focus of research.

Read further: 1. On Interpretation. Music as Text