The Reflective Musician
author(s): Håkon Austbø, Darla Crispin, Jonas Howden Sjøvaag
published in: Norwegian Artistic Research Programme
The relationship between performance and reflection is rich and complex. Great performances can sometimes seem the spontaneous products of mysterious inspiration; however, most musicians would agree that, to attain its full potential, a performance must arise from a thorough investigation of the artistic acts of interpretation and expression appropriate to the work.
When this investigation becomes an overt research process, artistic choices begin to be based on conscious critical and self-reflective evaluations and decisions — and the resulting performance to be informed by a wide range of hermeneutic and analytical approaches. But the promise of such a multi-stranded approach is vulnerable, and sometimes compromised, when the performer’s skill and knowledge in the associated disciplines does not measure up to their performative artistry and insight. Since Artistic Research, in particular, often posits a model in which all associated knowledge should reside within the performer, this can be problematic.
So, is there an alternative model that, nonetheless, maintains the skills of artist and scholar in a mutually beneficial configuration?
And, if so, how does such a model uncover the kinds of performing knowledge that may lead to a specific, unique interpretation?
This exposition reveals a constellation of approaches around a central premise, namely that musical interpretation may be read as an inherently creative activity based on its own systems of knowledge which, whether conscious or intuitive, ought to be capable of being articulated in words as well as in practical music-making. In articulating this premise within the project, the process of interpretation is seen as emerging, ideally, as a form of co-creation, as it were, in which the performer ‘composes’ the work anew from inside the act of performance and, in doing so, works in a creative partnership with both composer and audience. Among the possibilities offered by such a model is the prospect that the term ‘performer’ can become a multiple entity of individuals engaged in a creative partnership of their own and articulating in words the impulses and mechanisms at work in this partnership.