«Wheels within wheels»

New approaches to interactions between performers and composers

University of bergen, the grieg academy

project manager: jostein gundersen

The project “wheels within wheels” will research the potential for new forms of expression through interactions between performers of early music and contemporary composers. Musicians within the field of Historically Informed Performance (HIP) have frequently commissioned new works for their historically inspired instruments. Composers have frequently studied music of the past for new ideas to composition methods. We seek new ways of interaction between these seemingly far ends of the musical spectrum, by introducing a new kind of interaction between repertoire, performers, and composers.

The project has three main sources of interaction: 1. Polyphonic repertoire of the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, 2. performers ́ interpretation of that repertoire, including strategies for improvising diminutions (ornaments) and structures, 3. composers ́ abstractions and manipulations of traits of both the repertoire and the performers ́ interpretations of and improvisations with it.

The performers ́ playing techniques, interpretations of and improvisations in and around the repertoire will work as sources of inspiration for the composers. Based on these expressions, and their own readings of the repertoire, they will develop new strategies for composition, for improvisation and electro-acoustical interactions. This in turn will offer the performers inspiration for new ways of improvising and relating to the different parameters of the performance, which in turn will feed the composers with new inspiration, etc. This constant interaction between performers, composers and a shared material shall lead to

  • New musical works
  • New strategies for improvising structures and diminutions, with historical styles as starting point but not necessarily ending point
  • New musical expression

The project seeks to contribute to critical discourse around methods and goals of HIP, around the capacity of early music to stimulate new ways of expression and spatial and temporal organisation, and around the constructed dichotomy between “historical music” and “new music”.

The project includes the Grieg Academy´s research groups for HIP and for composition, and collaborates with leading composers and performers at the Grieg Academy and other research institutions and freelance musicians nationally and internationally.

For more information, contact jostein.gundersen@grieg.uib.no

-->