Living Scores Learn


The large diversity in compositional styles and currents and the possibilities of applied technology in contemporary compositions lead to very complex musical processes and ditto scores. This complexity and diversity demands for a highly adapted and specialized approach in studying method, not only in its theoretical background, but also and especially in its practical application. Starting from the output of the doctoral research “Improving the efficiency of practice and performance in contemporary percussion repertoire” conducted by Tom De Cock on students at various Conservatories in Europe, Living Scores Learn (LSL) seeks to innovate the practice and performance of contemporary music by developing and improving the accessibility of tailor-made study trajectories in which LSL exploits technical possibilities: by the development of specific tools to integrate the results of analysis into the studying practice and by constructing a digital platform which presents the trajectories and accomplishes interaction between different interprets. In this way LSL lowers the threshold to perform contemporary music for students and performers and leads to an innovative and interactive learning strategy for schools of arts and a supporting platform for the current artistic practice. The innovative approach of LSL is illustrated with two case studies based on the music by Franco Donatoni and Philippe Hurel. Both cases show how an alternative and interactive analysis method leads to the creation of studying tools to integrate the results of the analysis directly into the practice of the repertoire and how this highly raises the efficiency and output of the studying process of the performer.



Living Scores (LS) is a research concept about the performance of contemporary music. It consists out of three main topics:
- Learn focusses on improving the practise and performance of contemporary repertoire
- Live investigates how the experience of contemporary music performance by both the performer and the audience can be enhanced and extended
- Look searches for different ways next to the concert performance to present contemporary repertoire to the audience.


LS Learn creates a platform for improving the practise and performance of contemporary music. The platform presents research in specific compositions and offers both theoretical and practical solutions for the performer. By creating a platform it wants to stimulate the sharing of experience between performers and students. LS Learn is preceded by the doctoral research ‘Improving the efficiency of practise and performance of contemporary percussion repertoire’ as conducted by Tom de Cock.


Doctoral research

The doctoral research - conducted by Tom De Cock between 2010 and 2014 - wants to lower the threshold for students and performers to tackle pieces of contemporary repertoire that seem very difficult or complex at first glance. The lack of study-material and documented know-how, as well as the often-problematic scores and electronics asked for a more structured approach to this repertoire. By cataloguing practical experience and knowledge into a new working method this repertoire becomes more accessible. Tom De Cock wants to be an advocate for contemporary music as a whole and promote the composers that wrote these fabulous pieces that are too little performed according to his experience. The research was based on a quite intuitive selection of pieces from the contemporary percussion repertoire: this choice of the pieces was based on key moments in his personal career.
The new methods were extensively tested on students and reference groups from the Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel, KASK Conservatorium Gent, Conservatorium van Amsterdam, ArtEZ hogeschool, Hochscule für Musik Detmold. The outcome of all test cases indicated clearly better results of the students who followed the working method based on the research of Tom De Cock.

repertoire list

Franco Donatoni: Omar and Mari
Philippe Hurel: Loops II and Loops IV
Iannis Xenakis: Rebonds and Okho
Pierluigi Billone: Mani. De Leonardis, Mani. Mono, Mani. Matta, Mani. Gonxha and Mani. Dike
Raphael Cendo: Scratch Data (

Yann Robin: Chaostika


Thorough analysis of a selection of repertoire pieces: These analyses try to capture and indicate every detail in the score and bring forward the compositional modus operandi to help the performer to come to a more coherent result.
“Technical” recordings: recordings that bring down the interpretation aspect to a strict minimum, so they can be used as a more “human” practise tool than a metronome by slowing them down and “playing-along”.



LSL.clicktrack is an application developed by LS Learn to facilitate the translation of the theoretical analysis and research results into practical solutions. The application provides the possibility to rapidly create complex patterns and clicktracks to be used as a metronome in the practice room or in a performance. It can be used in combination with sequencers and contains possibilities to program different rehearsal strategies.

Click tracks, also multi layered and “play along” tracks: Tailor-made click tracks can easily be programmed through the click track tool developed by Vincent Caers and Tom De Cock on the Living Scores platform. These can be used for solo pieces as well as chamber music. The clicktrack can be combined with midi- and audio, for example in combination with a technical recording.


Annotated scores: The scores the pieces are often manuscripts or have a large amount of mistakes. These mistakes were catalogued and handed to the composer or editor to make corrected versions of the scores. Also more player-friendly versions were made for a selection of the pieces.
Practical playing solutions: practical playing indications like how to build a set-up for a certain piece, what sticks to use, pedal-indications etc.
Collaboration with the composers: Tom De Cock has regular contact with all living composers from the research repertory to verify the need and quality of the former output.


The need for sharing research

Tom De Cock and Vincent Caers are both percussionists and share an interest in contemporary music. As the personal repertoire for each performer overlapped, they started comparing their individual practice on the same scores, and discovered how they both did very similar work independent of each other, but at different moments in time. The road towards efficient practise contained a lot of time-consuming tasks to investigate the theoretical background of the composition and to create practical playing solutions based on the results of the former. The results of both performers shared multiple similarities, which lead up to the conclusion that a lot of time could be saved if the outcome of the first performers’ research would have been available for the second performer. Also, working together by combining the theoretical results of both performers and discussing these results lead up to a better understanding of the score by both performers. This clearly indicated the need for making this research accessible and resulted in the idea of the LS Learn platform.

The need for general tools

Not only the theoretical outcome, but also the translation of these results into practical solutions were similar for both performers. Only the method in which this translation happened, was different. As each performer developed a different way of creating his practical tools, it was difficult to use the tools of the other performer because it asked for a different workflow. In order to successfully stimulate the sharing of research, there needed to be a general way to create the translation of theoretical results into practical tools. Next, the tool needed to greatly improve the workflow, as it was often a cumbersome task to create it. During practice, the tool needed to be flexible in use to prevent loosing energy and focus in the practice room because of its usability. All these remarks led to the development of the LSL.clicktrack tool as part of the platform.

Proceedings text


In order to introduce the LS Learn concept, Tom De Cock and Vincent Caers created the website, developed the application LSL.clicktrack and worked out example trajectories for percussion solos by Philippe Hurel - Loops II and Loops IV - and Franco Donatoni - Omar and Mari. The result of the theoretical analysis is presented on the website. The practical research will be released with the application. The application is currently applied in user pilots where different students are testing it to create their own studying trajectories. The results of these user pilots will be presented at the end of march 2015. Other studying trajectories will be added to the platform (e.g. the studying trajectory for solo percussion pieces by Pierluigi Billone as part of the doctoral research by Tom De Cock has recently been uploaded).

The LS Learn platform will function as a library for research into contemporary scores and the practical application of theoretical results into tools for performers. In order to expand the use of the platform, conservatory students, performers, ensembles, composers and all actors in the - contemporary - music field will be invited to make use of the platform. Both authors stimulate the integration of the method in the curriculum of a performance master degree in music at the conservatories.


Tom De Cock is PhD researcher, percussion soloist with Brussels Philharmonic and freelance musician performing with such groups as Ensemble Modern, MusikFabrik, and Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic. He is a regular member of Ictus Ensemble, Ensemble XII, Nadar Ensemble, Triatu, and Bl!ndman. Additionally, he has performed at such events and festivals as Agora Paris, Darmstadt International Summer Courses for New Music, Donaueschingen Festival, Klangspuren Festival, Bang on a Can, Ars Musica, and Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.


Vincent Caers is a freelance percussionist, percussion teacher, musical researcher, and programmer. He is a member of the Flemish Sinfonietta and co- founder of Blow (, with whom he performs and commissions contemporary works for saxophone and percussion. Next to master degrees in Percussion, Chamber Music and Contemporary Music, he obtained a degree in cultural management and received professional training in music technology at Ircam in Paris.

Tom De Cock & Vincent Caers
Kunstenplatform Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel (België)