Playing in the Manner of Ricardo Viñes is an artistic research project undertaken at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) for the degree of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) in Artistic Research. The project’s reflection work takes the form of an exposition, which includes texts, videos, annotated scores and the artistic results.
In this artistic research project, Håkon Magnar Skogstad uses an extreme form of imitation to embody and recreate the historical recordings of Catalan-Spanish pianist Ricardo Viñes (1875-1943) with the aim of evoking a romantic performance tradition in classical music. Ricardo Viñes was one of the leading pianists in Paris around 1900 and premiered several compositions, including a substantial part of the piano works of Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. In his recordings, we hear a tradition of romantic performance practice, which Skogstad claims is not heard in modern-day performances. Furthermore, Ricardo Viñes’s close relationship to the works of Debussy and his recorded performances have the potential to challenge performance practice norms in impressionistic music.
By analyzing, studying and recreating the historical recordings of Ricardo Viñes, Skogstad sets out to research, experience and through this to gain an understanding of of Viñes's playing style on a fundamental level as a performing artist. The method of recreating recordings is carried out by imitating and playing alongside the originals to the point where the recreated performances can be superimposed onto the original historical recordings – achieving a sort of artistic “synchronization”. Skogstad believes that by committing to such extreme imitation, it is possible to extract unique artistic knowledge from these old recordings. In order to examine the performance practice in context, the playing style of Ricardo Viñes is compared to selected and equally thoroughly recreated recordings by contemporaneous pianists Sergei Rachmaninov, Ignacy Friedman and Jesús María Sanromá. Finally, four recordings of pieces by Claude Debussy played by Ricardo Viñes are recreated with the purpose of examining the influence of Viñes’s playing style in the music of Debussy.
In the film Playing in the Manner of Ricardo Viñes, which is one of the artistic results of the research, Skogstad records five of Ricardo Viñes’s original recordings in a “historical recording environment”, approaching that which Viñes encountered in 1930. The aim of this is for Skogstad to expose himself to a similar recording environment to what Viñes experienced – including recording one-off takes without any possibility of editing. The performances are rough, imperfect and on-the-fly - played in a “high-risk” manner just like Viñes's – in contrast to the perfectionism of music production standards today.
Håkon Magnar Skogstad (b.1989) is a prize-awarded diverse pianist and composer holding degrees in classical performance from Trondheim (NTNU, Department of Music), Oslo (Norwegian Academy of Music) and New York (Manhattan School of Music). He has performed in ensembles and as a soloist throughout Norway and played concerts in the U.S., Argentina, Germany, Austria and Sweden. Skogstad released three recordings with critically acclaimed ensembles in Norway, as well as his debut solo album Two Hands to Tango and Visions of Tango, featuring his original Concerto for Piano and String Orchestra with Atle Sponberg and the Trondheim Soloists. Both albums have received numerous outstanding reviews and the latter was nominated in the Norwegian Grammy Awards for best classical album.
Can pieces of dance tunes from Nordic folk music, organized according to principles from jazz, provide source material for building an improvisation language?
Scandinavian folk music traditionally used for dancing consists of melodies, organized in a limited amount of measures and sections (typically two or three eight-bar sections, played with repeats). The organizing principle in ensemble playing is for every musician to learn the melody first, and to let each following contribution be dictated by it. Variations in arrangements occur frequently in modern-day interplay, with harmony parts, chord changes, counter rhythms and dynamics meticulously employed in order to avoid monotony. But interpretation of the melody remains the main activity.
The ability for creativity on the spot is big among folk musicians, though it is seemingly framed by the strategies discussed above. I have yet to come across a methodical investigation of using material from traditional tunes as a musical vocabulary for improvisation. Consulting supervisors from the folk and jazz genres, I try to use source elements from the folk repertoire while employing organizing principles from jazz. As I present these ideas on several instruments, and over rhythmic foundations in a slightly modernized folk idiom, I'll try to encourage the use of these ideas in contexts not necessarily associated with traditional music. The project seeks to encourage participation, and may possibly work as tutorial material.
This exposition focuses on portions of a Pd.D.-level project I finished in 2009. The original three-year undertaking was supported by the Norwegian Artistic Research Programme, hosted by NTNU, and was supervised by John-Pål Inderberg and Geir Egil Larsen. The current version was supported by HiNT University College.
The basic focus of this project is how the use of live electronics can open up new musical possibilities and roles for the improvising vocalist in the musical interplay. The project is rooted in my background as a vocalist taking part in what could be called the Modern European Jazz Scene, and the musicians I have been cooperating with in this project are all important contributors in this musical field. The project has been carried out as an artistic research, where the artistic result has been presented in the form of recorded music and concerts. Recordings of the music are also presented as sound examples in this critical reflection. The main focus areas in this artistic research project are the following:
• I have explored how the use of live electronic processing can open up for new musical parameters, compared to the sole acoustic voice as instrument in music. These new possibilities are related to the experience of how electronic processing can create distance from and transformation of the natural voice sound.
• Furthermore, I have investigated how the use of these parameters can create new roles for the vocalist in the improvised interplay of my genre.
• As a part of my project I have also explored how an audio tracking system created for the theatre scene can be used as a live electronic tool for an a capella ensemble, and contribute to new strategies in the improvised performance.
• In another part of my research I have studied artistic possibilities through implementing the role of the storyteller in a musical performance with vocal and live electronics. I have wanted to find out more about how this implementation affects the relationship between performer and audience, and the perception of the performance as a whole. This part of my project has been carried out as a solo performance, in research collaboration with musicologist Andreas Bergsland. The research is using audience feedback, both to feed the artistic process, and to generate new knowledge about the perception of the performance.
Communication and interplay in an electronically based ensemble.
The basic aim of this project is to focus on challenges related to improvised performance of electroacoustic music. The artistic core of the project is to develop musical interaction in a larger ensemble, where the membership is mainly based on electronic and digital instruments. New modes of interaction are enabled by using audio processing as a musical instrument, where the sound from an acoustic musician is being processed live by another ("processor") musician.
Conlon Nancarrow's Piano Studies orchestrated for Pipe Organ, Disklavier and electronics by Øyvind Brandtsegg. The work with the Nancarrow Studies also instigated further exploration of improvisation with these mechanic instruments in combination with improvisation software written by Brandtsegg.
This exposition contains the documentation of Espen Aalberg´s artistic research project “Eastern Rebellion - with gamelan as inspiration for new musical expressions"
"Eastern Rebellion - with gamelan as inspiration for new musical expressions" is focusing on a meeting point where Aalberg, as a musician and composer, has searched for inspiration in gamelan music, instruments, and concepts. Aalberg has a broad practice as a performer and composer/music creator with a professional career in both jazz and classical-contemporary direction. This experience, in collaboration with inspiration and instruments from gamelan, will be illuminated in different musical expressions and contexts.