KC Research Portal

Royal Conservatoire Investigations

Royal Conservatoire Investigations

Understanding Classical and Early Romantic Dynamics 1750-1830 (2017 ) Bart van Oort
In eighteenth century scores, dynamics were notated almost exclusively in a general way. The dynamics belonging to the melancholy or passionate development of a musical phrase or the minimal dynamical differences between a dissonant and a consonant in (for instance) a Mozart Adagio or a Chopin Nocturne are so subtle that it is even better to not notate anything. The deepest utterances of both the composer's and the pianist's soul cannot be caught in any notation. However, in my opinion many of the notated dynamical indications are not fully understood or mis-interpreted. At the same time, implied dynamics can be found (while today often not realized) in virtually every musical phrase. In this research project I have investigated classical dynamics, focusing on the local function of forte and piano, on crescendos and diminuendos, the influence of harmony, the dissonance-consonance resolution, the relative meaning of ff, the dynamics of high notes, and other factors, such as the density of the notation, the direction of the melody, the register of the phrase and the character of the work. This research is part of a larger research project on the nature of the classical language, addressing dynamics, rubato and phrasing.
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Navigating through Harmony (2015 ) Karst de Jong
Name: Karst de Jong Main subject: Music Theory & Improvisation Research coaches: Michiel Schuijer & Thomas Noll Title of research: Navigating through Harmony Research question: How can spatial representation of harmony contribute to the understanding and teaching of harmonic progressions in tonal improvisation? And does the application of the directional approach provide an effective navigation tool for the improviser while shaping the harmony? 
 Summary of results: The navigation system can help in the choice of logical harmonic progressions while improvising. As a navigation tool it allows harmonic movement to be felt as opposed to calculated. As a tool for invention, the arrows challenge the obvious progressions one makes habitually as an improviser and one develops a sense of the basic movements in harmony: prolongation, movement and consolidation. It is clear that a simpler organization of harmony in the improviser's mind stimulates an active imagination, stands less in the way of the creative process, and leaves more time to anticipate what lies ahead. The research experiences have reconfirmed the importance of playing with one's ears wide open while improvising. As a teaching tool the directional approach is promising, although new materials have to be developed. This is work in progress. Clearly this research is not finished here. The next step is to take the results as a starting point for changes in the teaching of improvisation. One wish is to integrate the directional ideas with certain elements from the Partimento tradition. Then there is further research needed on the relationship between the upper structures and the underlying fundamental melody, dealing with stylistic elements such as chord forms and voice leading. The presentation has the format of a report (45 minutes) as it is in fact a portfolio of many activities leading up to this very moment, including a case study and experiments with teaching an ensemble. The presentation will consist of a summary of the theoretical background, followed by improvisations played on the piano and by an ensemble to demonstrate the ideas behind the directional approach. Biography Karst de Jong studied Classical Piano with Geoffrey Douglas Madge and Music Theory at the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague and started teaching early at the conservatoires of Amsterdam and The Hague. In 2003 he was appointed professor of composition techniques and improvisation at the ESMUC in Barcelona, and has since been pursuing the practice of improvisation as an integral part of the curricula of higher music education. He has given many concerts with improvisations for solo piano or with ensembles in Europe, China and Japan. He taught in many international festivals, among them the International Chamber Music Festival Schiermonnikoog, the Piano-Pic Festival in Bagneres de Bigorre and the Paul Badura Skoda Vila-seca Music Festival in Spain. In 2012 he released his first solo CD with improvisations entitled "Improdisiac". Karst de Jong currently lives in Barcelona.
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The Early Violone (2015 ) Maggie Urquhart
Name: Margaret Urquhart Main Subject: Master of Music Research Coach: Peter Holman Title of Research: The Early Violone Research Question: What were the earliest violones, how can they be defined and how were they used till 1700? Summary of Results: After looking at evidence of the emergence of the first low bowed string instruments in Europe, this paper follows the types and use of the main instruments which could be termed violones till 1700, mainly centered in Italy. Through the study of treatises referring to the violone, scores using the term, iconography, secondary sources and the reconstruction of a copy of a violone from 1590, it follows the development of the violone till it becomes an octave-doubling instrument. The presentation of the extended paper will include a closer look at the issues surrounding the history of, and the term, violone, and live performance of music demonstrating the early violone, together with two viola da gambas in a consort. Biography: Margaret Urquhart studied double bass and violone with Anthony Woodrow and viola da gamba with Anneke Pols at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. She subsequently joined many notable Baroque ensembles. In 1986, she became a member of Frans Bruggen’s Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century of which she is the first bassist. In addition to a busy performing schedule, she teaches at Amsterdam and The Hague conservatories, gives master classes internationally and coaches at the European Baroque Orchestra courses. She performs on the Viennese bass, the 8’ violone in various tunings and the 16’ violone and double bass.
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Searching for the Top Range in Early Nineteenth Century Bassoon Repertoire from Sweden: Issues of Material and/or Technique?' (2014 ) Donna Agrell
It is not uncommon to find a range of three full octaves in late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century bassoon repertoire, but passages ascending above b-flat' or c' were relatively rare. Composers active in Stockholm at the beginning of the nineteenth century such as Bernhard Crusell, Eduoard Dupuy, Franz Berwald and Eduard Brendler wrote pieces encompassing a range of Bb – to e-flat'', inspired by the Preumayr brothers, in particular the youngest, Frans Preumayr, who was an internationally known soloist and principal bassoonist in the Swedish Royal Orchestra from 1811–1835. In conjunction with my current PhD research in the docARTES program at Leiden University and the Royal Conservatoire in the Hague, dealing with early nineteenth century bassoon repertoire in Sweden, one of my goals was to discover the means of reaching these top notes and integrating them into a fluid technique which would enable historical bassoonists to perform this extraordinary repertoire composed for the virtuoso Preumayr. I wondered if the keys to the high register might be found in a special reed type, or a physical technique involving, for example, jaw position? Was Frans Preumayr's ability dependent on a particular model of bassoon? Or could other factors be involved that I hadn't yet considered?
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To understand staff notation aurally (2014 ) Suzanne Konings
Name: Suzanne Konings Main subject: Master of Music Theory Research coach: Lázsló Nemes Title of research: What's in a name? The relation between pitch notation, note names and sight singing in different forms of pitch notation and in different ways of approaching pitch notation Research questions: Are absolute note names necessary in sight singing, when reading pitch notation on the stave relatively? Mental process: one sees ‘do’ (a name that indicates a function) and thinks ‘F’ (indicating a pitch). Are relative note names necessary in sight singing, when reading pitch notation on the stave ‘absolute’? Mental process: one sees ‘F’ (a name that indicates a pitch) and thinks ‘do’ (indicating a function). Abstract: Sight singing is a part of almost every music theory curriculum in conservatoires. But one might ask oneself why lessons in sight singing are needed for students who can already read music notation? The answer usually is: to develop the aural imagination in relation to music notation. The way students have learned to read music notation in the first place did not develop this skill well enough then? Experiences in teaching made me think that we need functional note names (unique sound names) to be able to aurally understand pitch in staff notation, and that the absolute note names (unique pitch names) may be an instrumentally useful, but less effective step ‘in between’ in aural imagination. From existing literature and recorded tests with students performing special designed scores I hoped to learn more about connecting the inner hearing world to music notation in the most effective way. Biography Suzanne Konings studied music theory and musicology and has been the head of the music theory department in the Royal Conservatoire The Hague since 2004. From 2009 she has been specialising in teaching music according to the Kodály concept. Together with colleagues in and outside the conservatoire she is organising training programmes for teachers and musicians in elementary schools, music schools and higher music education. She teaches musicianship classes for students in the Royal Conservatoire and the National Youth Choir of the Netherlands.
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Collecting Repertoire for Kodály-inspired Music Lessons in Dutch Elementary Schools (2015 ) Daniel Salbert
Name: Daniel Salbert Main subject: Theory of Music Research coach: László Norbert Nemes Title of research: Collecting Repertoire for a Kodály-inspired Music Curriculum Research question: Is it possible to gather Relevant Repertoire for Dutch Elementary Schools to build a Kodály-inspired Music Curriculum? Abstract Six years ago, I visited a Kodály-course in Manchester, UK. This was the initial experience that changed my whole teaching and also my view on Music Education in general. After several study tours to Hungary I was convinced that it would be possible to develop a Kodály-inspired Music curriculum for Dutch elementary schools. Musical skills should and can be taught to anyone, beginning already in elementary school and not only at conservatoire level. As Kodály puts it: “Let music belong to everyone”. Singing musical repertoire is the fundament of all Kodály-inspired music teaching. So I began collecting relevant repertoire for Kodály-inspired music lessons in Dutch elementary schools: songs, rhymes, singing games, (folk) dances, canons, quodlibets, etc. To answer the research question I have collected many Dutch and International song books for elementary school from past to present and went through them for closer musical analysis. Besides, I researched song material at the Meertens Institute Amsterdam, organized a (folk) dancing workshop for elementary school teachers and went on study tours to Budapest and Glasgow. And of course I took notice of the repertoire that my fellow Kodály-colleagues at the Royal Conservatoire (KC) used. Searching and collecting repertoire became an attitude. But searching repertoire is not a theoretical business. Therefore, in the last two years I was testing repertoire in some of my classes: 1) Jong-KC-junior-students of the Royal Conservatoire at the age of 7-9 years; these children were following a special talent education. 2) ‘Normal’ children of the age of 6-8 years at a local Dutch elementary school. To gather the repertoire I built a database in File Maker Pro. I analysed the repertoire concerning musical parameters that are relevant to build a curriculum for Music education. The advantage of such a database is the fact that it is searchable. So when building a curriculum, repertoire can be grouped and sequenced according to the musical learning goals that are aimed at. Also staff notation, a game description and a demonstration video are provided. In the future I would like to transform this into an online database that could serve as a repertoire source for any Music teacher. After two years of research I can positively answer the research question. The next step would be to sequence the repertoire for the benefit of a step-by-step curriculum for the full eight years of Dutch elementary school education. Then Music at Dutch elementary schools might again become a subject that matters. Biography Daniel Salbert (Nuremberg, Germany 1971), studied Music Teaching (BA 1999), Choral Conducting (BA 2001) and Music Theory (BA 2009) at the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague (KC). He conducted different choirs such as children, chamber and oratorio choirs. At the moment he conducts the Young Talent Choirs and the First Year’s Choir of the KC and Concertkoor Rijswijk. He teaches Musicianship and Solfege for the Singing Department of the KC. He also teaches Solfege and Kodály-methodology for the Saturday-course “Music as a Subject” and the Master “Music Education according to the Kodály-concept”. He also teaches Musicianship and Music Theory at the School for Young Talent of the KC.
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how musicians use their brains (2014 ) Enno Voorhorst
When our modern brain developed 100,000 year ago, it perfectly suited the circumstances of that time. Therefore, we remember some things very easily like faces, tastes, routes and also music as a part of the social interaction. Music is an essential feature of the human existence and that is why when we hear a song we like, we will most likely recognize it easily the next day. This is why commercials use images, logos and rhyming texts together with jingles. The information stays in our minds easily, and more completely when it is repeated often. I will refer to this as the natural memorization path. Memory athletes are able to learn the order of cards in 30 decks within an hour. What they use is the natural memorization path. Simply put, they take a route in their own house, and place images on this route. After learning this they walk along this route and find all the images in the right order. This system is called the Loci-system and was used already by the Greeks. Musicians can also use the natural memorization path because music also settles easily in our mind. Hearing a song even once is often enough to have it settle in our brains. For musicians, this is a very practical tool for memorization but first some work has to be done. I will go into this later. We can learn more easily, more quickly and, above all, with much more enjoyment. The work that has to be done is developing a solid and immediate translation from the music in our mind to the instrument. For this solfeggio, harmony and analysis are essential tools. Finally, I will provide some practical tips for a high-functioning brain to learn and to memorize music.
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Improvisation in 19th century music (2014 ) Bert Mooiman
Name: Bert Mooiman Main subject: Music Theory Research coaches: Prof. dr. Hans Fidom (VU), Dr. Marcel Cobussen (UL) Title of research: Historically Inspired Improvisation - Improvising on basis of 19th-century music making Research question: Which was the role of improvisation in 19th-century music? Abstract: The average modern classical musician, the performer of music from the common practice era, tends to perform from scores only, and to treat a score like a text that should be converted into sound as precisely as possible. This is usually a one way process: without a score there will be no music. As a result of this attitude the musical languages of the common practice period have become dead languages, more or less like Latin and Ancient Greek, which are (with very few exceptions) no longer spoken actively but only translated into modern languages. More and more musicians become aware of the artistic limitations of this approach. In order to become, like musicians from the past, creative performers who are able to enter into a living relationship with the music, learning how to improvise seems to be a valuable means. The Royal Conservatoire in The Hague (The Netherlands) invests in ‘classical’ improvisation. An environment has been created which fosters the idea that improvisation is important for classical musicians, and a lot of experience has been gathered in teaching improvisation to those students. But what precisely do we mean with the word improvisation? And how exactly do we argue that improvisation is important for the new generations of conservatoire students? Improvisation by classical musicians is often referred to as ‘classical improvisation’ or ‘improvisation in a classical style’. These terms are not without problems, though. I would like to propose the notion of ‘historically inspired improvisation’ instead, indicating improvisation which uses thorough knowledge about music making in the past as a source of inspiration. ‘H.I.I.’ doesn’t necessarily aim for style imitations; rather, it works the other way around: integrating what we can use from historical music practices into our own creative music making. In this way, improvisation has the potential to fertilize all our ‘musicking’ (Chr. Small) – even when we play from scores. In my essay, a recorded student improvisation will be taken as a starting point. I will analyse and comment upon this recording, developing the idea of musical ‘loci communes’ which enables us to connect improvisation with the interpretation of a score. It is interesting to compare such insights with original treatises on improvisation, especially Carl Czerny’s Anleitung zum Fantasieren auf dem Pianoforte (1829). Czerny turns out to presume skills that are no longer self-evident to musicians of today, while on the other hand issues which are nowadays important are not addressed in his text at all. Drawing upon the theory of loci communes, I will work out an example of how I think Czerny’s book can still be a valuable source of inspiration today. During the presentation, I will focus on the concept of the locus communis, highlighting its double function as a way to recognize musical meaning in a score, and as a source of Historically Inspired Improvisations. The presentation will have the form of a lecture-recital. Biography The Dutch pianist, organist, improviser and music theorist Bert Mooiman studied at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague, The Netherlands, where he took his certificates as a solo pianist and organist cum laude. After completing his Music Theory studies in 2003 he started teaching music theory (principal subject), improvisation and piano at the Royal Conservatoire. He performs both on piano (solo, chamber music) and on organ (solo, basso continuo). His work as a researcher and his activities as a performer meet in his lifelong interest in improvisation, which also became the topic of his current PhD research at Leiden University.
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Help! A Talent! The Student-Teacher Relationship in Higher Music Education (2014 ) Paul Deneer, Gerda van Zelm
Faculty research at the Royal Conservatoire The Hague focuses on a wide range of topics relevant to the artistic practice of its teaching staff, to the artistic develop- ment of its students and to the world of musical practice at large. Areas covered include informed performance practice, creative (artistic) research, instrument building, educational research, and music theory. One strand within the faculty research programme is directed towards the under- standing and the enhancement of the student-teacher relationship in higher music education. Two investigations within that strand – ‘Making Music: Being Heard and Seen’ by Paul Deneer, and ‘The Teacher-Student Relationship in One-to-One Teaching’ by Gerda van Zelm – were performed in close collaboration. This publica- tion brings together the outcomes of both research projects, including an appendix ‘Reciprocity: The Two Studies Combined’, which offers conclusions and recommen- dations to further enhance the student-teacher relationship in conservatoires. Help! A Talent! documents and communicates knowledge, understanding and prac- tical recommendations, based on accumulated experiences, theoretical insights and data collection. Its empirical base is the practice of teaching and learning at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague. The relevance of the findings, however, reaches beyond the confines of this institute. Other conservatoires and music departments might benefit from the insights and suggestions offered. Research into the student- teacher relationship in higher music education is gaining more and more attention lately. This publication is both a contribution to this emerging research field and an invitation to further research. Help! A Talent! is part of Royal Conservatoire Publications. With this series the Royal Conservatoire aspires to contribute insights and experiences, embedded in its higher music education culture and embodied in the professionals who study and work here. With the publication of Help! A Talent! we support the dissemination of knowledge and understanding, but we also show our commitment to research and our readiness to be in front of the development. In doing so the Conservatoire ma- nifests awareness that today’s higher music education is in constant need to refine and attune its programme to an ever-changing world.
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From Potential To Performance. Training Practice and Performance Preparation in Conservatoires (2014 ) Wieke Karsten (older account), Susan Williams
Faculty research at the Royal Conservatoire The Hague focuses on a wide range of topics relevant to the artistic practice of its teaching staff, to the artistic development of its students and to the world of musical practice at large. Areas covered in- clude informed performance practice, creative (artistic) research, instrument building, educational research, and music theory. One strand within the faculty research programme is directed towards the enhancement of the learning, practice and performing strategies of instrumentalists and vocalists. Two projects within that strand – ‘Mental Training for Performers’ by Susan Williams, and ‘Making Music, Practising and the Brain’ by Wieke Karsten – formed the occasion and motivation to organise the international conference ‘From Potential to Performance: Training Performing Musicians in Conservatoriums’ at the Royal Conservatoire, 11-13 October 2013. This publication collects knowledge, insights and practical recommendations ad- dressed at the conference by an outstanding group of scholars and practitioners. Some contributions to this volume were published earlier as articles in their own right, some have been written for the occasion. Combined in this publication they offer a rich and thorough account of the state of the art in this emerging research field. The study of the relationship between musical practice and the physical and mental condition of its practitioners goes back to ancient Greek, to Plato’s Politeia or Artistotle’s Politika, where music, body and mind were conceived of as constitu- tive of ethos, i.e. of character, behaviour and morality. And throughout history that relationship between music, body and mind was thematised in ever-different ways; from the proto music psychology of the Baroque Affektenlehre to the Musico- Medizin speculations of the early 20th century. Only in recent decades the study of ‘performance science’ has advanced to the level of a serious research programme, rooted in both artistic practice and in cutting-edge scholarly and scientific work, combining insights from sport science, neuro-psychology, brain science, pedagogy and musical practice. The Royal Conservatoire does not only want to profit from this emerging field of research, but also aspires to contribute insights and experiences, embedded in its higher music education culture and embodied in the professionals who study and work here. With the publication of ‘From Potential to Performance’ we support the dissemination of knowledge and understanding, but we also show our commitment to the research programme and our readiness to be in front of the development. In doing so the Conservatoire manifests awareness that today’s higher music education is in constant need to refine and attune its programme to an ever-changing world.
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Between building foundational skills and instilling self-guided learning: Solfège pedagogy in higher music education (2014 ) Ida Vujović
While in some educational systems solfège is taught systematically from a young age (whether in specialized music schools or in classroom music), in other countries it is a compulsory discipline only in professional education. In the latter case, students start learning solfège as teenagers or young adults but by that time they have already developed some of the solfège skills through years of playing an instrument. What these skills exactly are, and what overall musical knowledge students already have, differs from one student to another. Some are already familiar with certain chord progressions, some have general knowledge about keys and intervals, some have never sung before, and some can already play by ear on their instrument. Students themselves are not always aware of the level of their skills or may have the wrong impression about them. Teachers need time to obtain an objective picture of each student’s abilities. If the teacher wants to build on the students’ pre-knowledge, it can be difficult to decide exactly where to start and which route to take towards the goal. Starting at the level of basic skills makes this much longer and might demotivate students; starting at too high a level will unavoidably leave gaps in knowledge. Many music theory pedagogues choose to start “half way,” after first having systematized all the knowledge and skills that should already have been developed—which might turn out to be both too low and too high at the same time. While there is much research in the domain of solfège issues in music psychology and there are many publications concerning classroom music, almost the only sources of information about solfège methodology for college-level students are solfège method books and textbooks. Conservatory students without previous solfège training are not problematized as a specific group of solfège-learners. In this article I am proposing that conservatory beginners are seen as a specific group of learners who are experienced and novice at the same time. I will point out and discuss several issues that are relevant to the design of the solfège method for this group, especially concerning the first months of learning where the foundation is being built. I will argue that learning solfège in general is a process with its own particularities, and that the awareness of these should be the starting point for the planning of the learning sequence. A solid foundation is seen as the requirement for any further learning, and the role of the teacher is crucial in developing or strengthening it in students. In this context the concepts such as preparation, readiness for learning, repetition, routine, challenge and independent learning are discussed. Through a comparison of methods for children and adult beginners, I aim to explain some of the problems that are encountered in the solfège pedagogy.
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How Obvious is the Artistic and the Musical Expertise of the Music Teacher? (2014 ) Adri de Vugt
Artistry is often regarded as one of the core aspects of music education. It is important, however, to realize that the concept of artistry has to be observed in many different contexts. When doing a modest research into this concept in the context of music teacher training, I became more and more aware of - on the one hand the ambiguity of the term and the ease of the use of it on the other hand. Many teacher-training programmes claim to develop the artistic and musical expertise of students on the basis of the idea that music teachers should be artists in the first place. By my research I have tried to understand why music teacher trainers and others are so convinced about the obviousness of the artistry and musical expertise of music teachers. After organizing a conference with the title "Craftsmanship and artistry" (EAS Conference 2012), I had the opportunity to compile a book on artistry in music education. When finding the authors for the book, we had in mind to find contributions from different perspectives. Ultimately the book did focus on three main areas: the concept of artistry, pupil's artistry and the artistry of music teachers. Besides editing the book with a colleague, I was a co-author of an article on the competencies of music teacher and did write and article on artistry. I offer critical remarks on the seemingly obvious idea that music teachers should be musicians. He argues that content knowledge and skills in themselves are probably not that important for teachers, emphasizing instead that musical knowledge and skills in a pedagogical context should be a priority for educators. A second topic I raise is the role of musical identity. The fact that many music teachers would like to see themselves as musicians or think they should be, may well be influenced by the way music teachers are educated and trained. The question of what the kinds of musical expertise we should expect from music teacher is related to the opinions we have on music and music education. Finally, I discuss the complex connotations of the terms ‘musical’ and ‘artistic’ and comes to the conclusion that we had better use them critically.
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