4. Experimentation. Reconfiguring the Field of the Audible

ME21 situates itself within the field of artistic research, which seeks not so much to make explicit the knowledge that art is said to produce, but rather to provide a specific articulation of the pre-reflective, non-conceptual content of art. ‘It thereby invites ‘unfinished thinking’. Hence, it is not formal knowledge that is the subject matter of artistic research, but thinking in, through and with art’ (Borgdorff, 2011). By clinging to an outmoded paradigm of interpretation, music performance practice risks being isolated from the wider fields of artistic research and practice. By extension, musicians risk becoming less and less intellectually engaged within contemporary culture. Taking Gilles Deleuze’s invitation not to interpret but to ‘experiment’ with the materials of our domain(s), ME21 aims at developing (both conceptually and practically) a different and original model for music performance – a model based on experimentation.

Fig. 1. From Execution to Interpretation to Experimentation
Fig. 1. From Execution to Interpretation to Experimentation

If we understand notational practices, including scores and music editions as a multi-layered, historically constructed artefacts, and not simply as a means to preserve a record of the music, new operational modes become apparent. Building on such modes, the present project proposes a dynamic vision of the interwoven relations between notation and performance. Where traditional models are based on much more static conceptions of the score, this research programme proposes a dynamic conception, where innumerable layers of notational practices and music editions generate an intricate multi-layered set of inscriptions. (Fig. 2)

Fig. 2. Experimentation in Performance Practice
Fig. 2. Experimentation in Performance Practice

If the source text is dynamic and no longer regarded as fixed, and if the performative moment is – in its essential nature – also dynamic and ever changing, it follows that every performance is more an ‘event’ than a reiteration of a given ‘form’ of a piece. In the place of a heuristic approach, ME21 proposes an exploration of potentialities contained in a given score. Instead of the extremely problematic and reductive quest for ‘the author’s intentions’, ME21 proposes open-ended and centrifugal processes of shaping musical contents. The performer wanders creatively through such a landscape, using and training his/her imagination with the goal of breaking free from the past and of constructing new assemblages.

Read further: 5. Experimental Systems. The Link to Experimental Science