This research has been a long journey – one of the most challenging I have ever made. As I write these lines, I find myself changed and still shaken personally, artistically and intellectually. Yet amid the uncertainties of the past seven years, I have repeatedly experienced true interest, friendship and help from many directions. These experiences have given me strength and have made this journey worthwhile.


I am profoundly thankful to my promoter, Marcel Cobussen, for generously sharing his knowledge, and insistently encouraging me to transform negative and often paralysing criticism with a more flexible and open, but not less critical attitude. Thank you as well as to my other supervisors: Frans de Ruiter for the concern and for believing in my 'strange' ideas, and Anna Scott for her intellectual sharpness and sensitivity and for bringing like-minded researchers together in inspiring colloquia. Thanks also to Paulo de Assis from the Orpheus Institute, for encouraging and inspiring me to become a researcher, to my external advisor Mário de Carvalho from the NOVA University Lisbon, for his joyous spirit and for interesting me to music sociology, to the director of the Orpheus Institute Peter Dejans, to the institute manager of the Academy for Creative and Performing Arts (ACPA) at Leiden University Rosalien van der Poel, to ACPA’s former director Henk Borgdorff, to ACPA advisor and PhD-colleague Gabriel Paiuk, and to the whole personnel of ACPA and the Orpheus Institute. 


I would like to give a heartfelt thanks to all the artists who have collaborated with me on and during this research trajectory. João Miguel Pais and Karen Stuke, Ensemble neoN, Maximilian Sauer, Bernt Isak Waerstad, Erik Dæhlin, Natasha Barrett and Tormod Lindgren. To work with them has been a privilege. Thank you also to the Francis Bacon Estate and the Kunstinstituut Melly for kindly allowing me to use images from their collection and exhibition, and to the friends and colleagues who have contributed with sonic material for touchez des yeux: Wendy, Vonne and Pete Greenberg and Ella Greenberg Graff, Daphne and Lotte Shlomowitz, Sofie Ringstad and Colette Brockaert. I also relied greatly on the friendship and expertise of curator, friend and sparring partner Maarten Quanten and the production team of De Bijloke Muziekcentrum, to whom I owe the making of touchez, and Professor Madalena Soveral from the Escola Superior de Música e Artes in Porto, who made possible the creation of Interferences


Further, I would like to thank vice-principal Martin Prchal, research director Kathryn Cok and lector Paul Craenen from the Royal Conservatoire The Hague for their deep concern for the students, and for giving me the opportunity to work alongside them. To my colleagues at the Conservatoire, Casper Schipper, Kathryn Cok, Renee Jonker and Roos Leeflang, for their dedication, help and engaging conversations. To my students, who have made this research more motivating and meaningful by helping me shape my findings, and for the positive feedback along the way. 


I am also much obliged to my editor, Kate Nialla Fayers-Kerr, and to my coaches and advisors Iara Sales de Oliveira, Natalia Gaviola, Anton Stellamans and Rikki Holtmaat. Their energy, listening skills and understanding have been a great source of inspiration. 


There have been indeed many stimulating conversations during this research. Thank you to Wolfgang Ernst for encouraging me to at once reflect and dream, for reminding me of the importance of time in musical performance and for introducing me to media theory. Thank you to Heiner Goebbels, for making me dare to explore the stage beyond my instrument. Thank you as well to Lars Petter Hagen, for the opportunities, the visions, and our practice/theory partnership. Also, my special appreciation to Daniel Leech-Wilkinson, Katja Heldt, Florian Malzacher, Marina Rosenfeld, David Helbich, Alwynne Pritchard, Joana Sá, Maria Luiza Cestari. Thanks also to my PhD-colleagues Ellie Nimeroski, Siamak Anvari, Guy Livingston, Giuliano Bracci, Maggie Urquhart, Franziska Fleischanderl, Carlo Díaz, Anne Veinberg, Suzan Tunca, Shaya Feldman and Karin Gaskell, whose input and companionship has been invaluable to my work. 


A very special category of thanks goes to Karin Hellqvist, Fernanda Murad Machado and Lucia D’Errico, for their wisdom, the combination of friendship, intellectual and creative stimulation, and artistic collaboration. I am also grateful to my dear friends, so far away and yet so close, Irena Banjeglav, Marianne Cestari Zecca, Wendy Greenberg, Paola Burigana, Ingeborg Dalheim and their families, to Yumi Murakami, Anne Becker, Ane Marthe Sørlien Holen and Jan Martin Smørdal, and to so many other friends who have supported me since the beginning of this journey, relentlessly. I look forward to our future adventures.



Further, I am particularly thankful to my parents, whose interest and care during this research have been nothing short of incredible, and to Maarten, for all that we have built together during these last years, through and despite this research. Lastly, I thank my old piano teachers James Avery and D. Mercedes, to whom this research is dedicated.





Luso-Brazilian pianist, curator and artist researcher Heloisa Amaral was born in São Paulo in 1981. She completed a Diploma in Music Teaching (main subject piano) and a Diploma in Historical Performance Practice (main subjects: harpsichord and fortepiano) at the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg, Germany, in 2003 and 2006, respectively. Following this she moved to Oslo, where she received a master’s degree in piano performance from the Norwegian Academy of Music in 2007. After completing two years of continuing studies in ensemble conducting at the same institution, she became an associate researcher of the MusicExperiment21 artistic research cluster at the Orpheus Institute, Ghent, where she remained a member until 2016. In 2015, she enrolled in the docARTES Doctoral Programme in the Musical Arts. Heloisa has completed her doctoral research with a scholarship from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT). While enrolled in docARTES, she has published essays and articles related to her research subjects in the online journal On Curating (2020), in the book Traces of Vang: Suspended Spring published (CentroCentro, 2020), in the anthology Contemporary Piano Music: Performance and Creativity (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2021) and in the independent publication Impossible Situations: Concerts in The Making (2021). In parallel to these activities, Heloisa is active as a performer and curator in the contemporary music field. A former member of ensemble asamisimasa (2003-09), her musical partnerships today include Duo Hellqvist/Amaral and Ensemble neoN. As a soloist and within the aforementioned chamber music constellations, she has worked with composers and musicians such as Helmut Lachenmann, Matthias Spahlinger, Joanna Bailie, Far East Network, Lasse Marhaug, Simon Steen-Andersen, Catherine Lamb, Johannes Kreidler, Øyvind Torvund, Alvin Lucier, Phil Niblock, Erik Dæhlin, Jan St Werner and Marina Rosenfeld. Releases include NEON (Aurora), neoN: Niblock/Lamb (Hubro), Lush Laments for Lazy Mammals with Håkon Stene (Hubro) et al. Former curator at Ny Musikk Oslo and programmer of outreach and discursive activities at the Oslo Ultima Festival until 2015, Heloisa has been an advisor of DEFRAGMENTATION – Curating Contemporary Music, a project of the German Federal Cultural Foundation. In addition, she has engaged in teaching workshops on curatorship, artistic research and feedback techniques for musicians at the Darmstadt Summer Course, the Orpheus Institute, KASK, the Fontys Hogeschool voor de Kunsten and the International Ensemble Modern Academy. Currently, Heloisa is co-coordinator of the European network ULYSSES lectures in curatorial practices in music at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, where she also supervises artistic research and undertakes research on curriculum development in higher musical education.