Michiel Schuijer

Michiel Schuijer is research reader at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. A graduate of Utrecht University and the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, he  focuses his own research at the juncture of music theory and historical musicology. His book Analyzing Atonal Music: Pitch-Class Set Theory and Its Contexts was published in 2008 by University of Rochester Press.


Exposition: The learning process in fado through artistic research (01/01/2012) by Brita Lemmens
Michiel Schuijer 08/11/2012 at 15:33

The submission is certainly of great interest. This is especially true of the author’s extensive reports on her mission to learn singing fado. It must have been a very confrontational journey for her, and I admire her courage and sincerity. Readers might experience the author’s role as a “student” – a role she consciously assumes for this project – as a limitation. As a consequence of this role, she has not much to contribute to her field of interest artistically. The real expertise and ability to act on this field resides with her “teachers”. But in this exposition she leaves a lot of ideas and material for others to explore. Much of this is implicit, however. She could do more to indicate possible uses of her work.


I am sure the author adds a new perspective to the literature on fado; her research question is imaginative, well presented, and stimulating curiosity. I am not sure whether she considered looking for similar approaches to other musical genres, that is, a study the genre through the lens of someone who learns it. I think not. It would certainly have made her work more rigorous had she referred to and taken good ideas from comparable projects in other fields.


The experiences in the fado houses and the dialogues with the teachers have been reported carefully. This is no doubt the strongest part of the submission. : It strikes me that there seem to exist different opinions on the extent to which fado can be taught. There are performers who are even reluctant to instruct others in the art of fado, whereas somebody like Arménio de Melo assumes an almost academic stance to fado (with which guitarists, listeners and fadistas seem to take issue in one recording). It would certainly be desirable to pay more attention to these different attitudes within the fado culture. Also, why do some of the author’s “teachers” say that she cannot learn to sing fado, when obviously – and judging from their own comments – she can make mistakes?

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