This project aims to develop transcultural approaches of inspiration (which we regard as mutually appreciated intentional and reciprocal artistic influence based on solidarity) by combining approaches from contemporary music composition and improvisation with ethnomusicological and sociological research. We encourage creative (mis)understandings emerging from the interaction between research and artistic practice, and between European art music, folk and non-western styles, in particular from indigenous minorities in Taiwan. Both comprehension and incomprehension yield serendipity and inspiration for new research questions, innovative artistic creation, and applied follow-ups among non-western communities.
The project departs from two premises: first, that contemporary western art music as a practice often tends to resort to certain degrees of elitism; and second, that non-western musical knowledge is often either ignored or merely exploited when it comes to compositional inspiration. We do not regard inspiration as unidirectional, an “input” like recording or downloading material for artistic use. Instead, we foster artistic interaction by promoting dialogical and distributed knowledge production in musical encounters. Developing interdisciplinary and transcultural methodologies of musical creation will contribute on the one hand towards opening up the—rightly or wrongly supposed—“ivory tower of contemporary composition”, and on the other hand will contribute towards the recognition of the artistic value of non-western musical practices. By highlighting the reciprocal nature of inspiration, creative (mis)understandings will result in socially relevant and innovative methodologies for creating and disseminating music with meaning.
The methods applied in the proposed project will start out from ethnographic evidence that people living in non-western or traditional societies often use methods of knowledge production within the sonic domain which are commonly unaddressed or even unknown among western contemporary music composers (aside from exotist or orientalistic appropriations of “the other”).
The project is designed in four stages: field research and interaction with indigenous communities in Taiwan with a focus on the Tao people on Lanyu Island, collaborative workshops in Vienna, an artistic research and training phase with invited indigenous Taiwanese coaches in Vienna, and feeding back to the field in Taiwan. During all these stages, exchange and coordination between composers, music makers, scholars and source community experts will be essential in order to reflect not only on the creative process, but also to analyse and support strong interaction between creation and society. Re-interaction with source communities as well as audience participation in the widest sense will help to increase the social relevance of the artistic results.
The University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna (MDW) will host the project. The contributors are Johannes Kretz (project leader) and Wei-Ya Lin (project co-leader, senior investigator) with their team of seven composers, ten artistic research partners from Taiwan and six artistic and academic consultants with extensive experience in the relevant fields.