Rigorosum – Jessica Kaiser

The Musical Dyad – on Interplay in Duo Settings

In this final defence of her artistic doctoral research, Jessica Kaiser offers a nuanced understanding of musical interplay in duo settings. In order to showcase some of the main findings and artistic results emerging from the four-year research project, the presentation draws on extensive audio and video documentation of working sessions and performances of several different duo constellations, while integrating examples of critical artistic practice and conceptual reflection.

Jessica will guide the audience in tracing some of the multifaceted processes and manifestations of musical togetherness (Miteinander) – a phenomenon considered to reach beyond mere musical interaction and to encompass the intersubjective experience of musical and interpersonal relationship. Meaningful musical interplay which is oriented towards profound togetherness can enable the emergence of a ‘We’, of musically being-with each other, of acting and feeling together. This relational state holds a particularly strong aesthetic potential, which is uncovered by means of Artistic Research.

In order to shed light on the experiential realm of both the aesthetic and the intersubjective, the research draws on a phenomenological perspective and takes an embodied and enactive approach to duo performance. Linking the qualitative experience of relationship to aesthetic aspects of musical interplay, the Artistic Research approach in fact offers a unique perspective on (musical) intersubjectivity.

The verbal discussion is grounded in two strands of artistic exploration, which form the backbone of the research: Within multiple short-term duo encounters, an interventional approach enabled evidencing phenomena with particular relational-aesthetic value. The insights and aesthetic considerations from these case studies lead to an interdisciplinary research and performance project involving a long-term duo collaboration. Here, performative means are developed that actively address underlying factors of musical togetherness as well as convey relational processes to an audience.

Finally, the concept of relational interpretation is introduced, in which the relational realm of musical interplay is foregrounded, explored and refined through experimental practice. This leads to an interpretation which is no longer guided by technicalities of musical interaction, but grounded on inter-human values, which are formed and enacted together through musical interplay. Such an interpretation enables jointly created and affectively shared phenomena of musical intersubjectivity. Thus, moments of genuine musical togetherness no longer occur en passant, but are consciously raised as the central goal of the interpretation.

Internal Supervisors and External Advisors: Paolo Pegoraro (KUG), Andreas Dorschel (KUG), Stefan Östersjö (Malmö Academy of Music, Lund University), Amanda Bayley (Bath Spa University).

Jessica Kaiser


As a guitarist, chamber musician and artist researcher, Jessica Kaiser works towards rethinking musical practice and developing innovative performances, through interweaving musical experimentation and critical reflection. Performances, lectures and residencies led her to festivals and symposia all over Europe and across South America and Asia. As a soloist, she has performed with orchestras in concert halls around the world, from the well-known Gewandhaus zu Leipzig or the Herkulessaal der Residenz in Munich, Germany, to Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary and Baku Philharmonic Hall in Aserbaijan. Jessica succeeded at various international competitions, has been awarded grants by, among others, the Neue Liszt Stiftung Weimar (2015) and the DAAD (2016/2017), and received the award for the advancement of the arts, granted by the city of Augsburg (2016). 

Further highlights include appearances at renowned festivals such as the Beethovenfest Bonn, Bodenseefestival, Mozartfest Augsburg, Gezeitenkonzerte Ostfriesland, steirischerherbst Graz, and Festival Internacional de Musica de Camara Monteleon, as well as collaborations with the SWR Symphony Orchestra, the Orchester im Treppenhaus and the Schallfeld Ensemble. She was also featured in several radio and TV broadcasts in Germany and abroad.

Jessica understands her extensive chamber music practice as artistic research that aims towards high-toned interplay. This is most notably reflected in two longstanding duo projects: Founded in 2006, the critically acclaimed KAISER SCHMIDT Guitar Duo (with Jakob Schmidt) released their debut CD with AureaVox in 2017. They have been awarded numerous First, Second and Special Prizes at international competitions.
Together with violinist Johanna Ruppert, Jessica is regularly performing as Duo Karuna. Since their debut in 2016, concerts have led them all across Europe. They were awarded the 1st prize at the North International Music Competition (2018), 3rd prize at the International Chamber Music Competition in Braga, Portugal, as well as the 3rd prize at the 14th International Enrico Mercatali Competition in Gorizia, Italy (2017).

Since 2018, Jessica has been pursuing her doctoral studies at the Doctoral School for Artistic Research at the University of the Arts Graz. In 2019, she joined the art factory baseCollective for a one-month artistic research residency at Adishakti Laboratory in Tamil Nadu, India. She acted as main organiser of the SONify! Festival of Music and Artistic Research in 2020/2021. Her research was recently presented at leading international conferences, such as the European Platform for Artistic Research in Music EPARM (2023) and the Performance Studies Network PSN conference (2022), as well as published in the latest issue of the online journal Music & Practice (2023). From 2022-2023, Jessica acted as Executive Board Consultant at the Society for Artistic Research SAR. She currently holds a position as Research Assistant at the University of the Arts Graz.

Jessica is a D'Addario Artist since 2018.