Contextual Considerations



Location and contribution in relation to the subject area and the field.

Here, I will try to explain the position of my own artistic practice in relation to the subject area nationally and internationally, as well as how the project contributes to the development of the subject area. A few similar reflections appear elsewhere in the exposition, but they do not overlap with this text.

I will try to describe the position of the project within the dimensions:

-       Music & aesthetics.

-       Research & theory.


Position in relation to the subject area, musically/aesthetically:

The music in the project relates amongst others to the music of:

-       Paul Bley, Andrew Hill, John Coltrane & Keith Jarrett – but is more consistently atonal.

-       Cecil Taylor, Marilyn Crispell, Alexander von Schlippenbach, Sten Sandell – but is more motivic (and less stochastic in the gestures).

-       Muhal Richard Abrams, Sun Ra, Alice Coltrane – but with a different type of abstraction.

-       Bela Bartok, Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Schönberg – but with a much greater openness with regards to interpretation and a very different rhythmic approach.

-       Morton Feldman, Tristan Murail & Per Nørgaard – but with more physicality in sound and rhythm.

-       Anton Webern, Kris Davis, Sylvie Courvousier – but less dense.

-       Benoit Delbecq – but with more gravity in its approach to pulse.

-       Django Bates – but less based on functional harmony.

-       Steve Coleman, Vijay Iyer & Rudresh Mahanthappa – but more transcendent (or more European) in its concepts.

-       Jason Moran, Geri Allen – but airier in timbre and less audibly anchored in the jazz tradition.

-       Craig Taborn – but with more irrational rhythmic phrasings, fewer allusions to electronic music, a broader/looser beat and a larger degree of motivic/narrative continuity.

-       ECM’s sound universes – but with more physicality in timbre, more body in the drum sound and a more equal dynamic balance between the instruments.


Position in relation to the subject area within Artistic Research:

I have tried to find a balance between the specifically technical/theoretical perspective, and the constant creative action and the general/overall reflection, a type of balance, which I have not encountered before. Here, I am in particular thinking of the ambition of sharing a quite comprehensive music theory text with the public, while at the same time creating a body of new music, based on the described ways of thinking. The closest relationship I have come across is “Multiphonics on the double bass” by Håkon Thelin, from the Norwegian Artistic Research programme (2011). Other related projects, which up until now have not gone as far in terms of specific theoretical detail in public communication, would be “The Poetics of a Multiphonic Landscape” by Torben Snekkestad and “The Properties of Free Music” by Joe Morris.

In terms of music theory, the Habitable Exomusics Analysis text situates itself within a field of such texts as “Twentieth-Century Harmony: Creative Aspects and Practice” by Vincent Persichetti, “The Music of Bela Bartok: A Study of Tonality and Progression in Twentieth-Century Music” by Elliott Antokoletz, “Introduction to Post Tonal Music Theory” by Joseph N. Straus, and “The Structure of Atonal Music” by Allen Forte, but with an idiosyncratically personal focus on improvisational procedures, and without the objectifying aim, the before mentioned works have.

There is also a connection of sorts to a number of texts by Arnold Schoenberg, Anthony Braxton, Igor Stravinsky, Steve Coleman and Steve Lacy about their own music, but none of them with a corresponding angle.

Outside of music and artistic research, profound inspiration for the project was found in the structure of the writings of James Joyce (including Ulysses and the plans illustrated in the Linati and Gilbert Schemes), Inger Christensen (Det & Sommerfugledalen), Jorge Luis Borges, as well as in the movies of Charlie Kaufman (Synecdote, Being John Malkovich), the Danish cult cartoon Kristers Oplevelser, and Paul Klee (Paedagogical Sketch Book) etc.

However, I will openly admit that reading literature beyond the abovementioned texts was not as central a part of my practice during the project as I had originally expected. This choice was partly based on my belief that there should be a strong artistic process to reflect on before the artist’s reflection on art becomes interesting. The whole Artistic Research area is a new field in Denmark and I found it difficult, also internationally, to identify many best practice examples - especially in terms of the balance between theory and practice, between artistic activities and the reading of for example philosophical literature. These balances are weighted rather differently among each of our neighbouring countries. I have consciously tried to forge an approach in which sufficient room is reserved for the musical/artistic practice itself, within Artistic Research, without it endangering the critical reflection in the project.