Academy of Creative and Performing Arts
Leiden University, The Netherlands
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This thesis focuses on the concepts of freedom and fixity as two central topics of my artistic research. I present, analyze, and contextualize four of my works which have explicit links to freedom and fixity and which demonstrate the dynamic interrelationship between the two. By looking at the musical contents of these works, by reflecting on my initial intentions for composing them, and by dwelling on the ideas emerging during the composition process and their subsequent performances, I contribute a distinct musical perspective on freedom and fixity which can inspire other musicians and researchers on their theoretical and/or practical paths.
The compositions demonstrate my interest in establishing, on the one hand, a specific aesthetic – a musical identity which is, at least to some extent, fixed. However, on the other hand, they keep this identity explicitly free by creating dynamic relations between the musicians themselves and between them and compositional elements – structure, pitch, rhythm, and so on. Integrating freedom and fixity suggests an approach to musical structures as open processes which evolve in real time. Conversely, it excludes neither an explicit description of musical materials nor the existence of tangible musical shapes.
By asking questions regarding the relationship between freedom and fixity and the role they play in musical works, I make observations about the nature of each of the concepts. How can they be embodied, practiced, and performed in composing music? Which elements of each of the compositions discussed in this thesis are primarily fixed and which are primarily free? How can musical compositions express the tensions and balances between freedom and fixity and how is this effectuated in each of the four case studies? How do the relations between freedom and fixity shape the performances of these works? The various ways in which these two concepts are embodied as musical shapes, the dynamic relationship between them, and the understanding that their existence is inherent to any musical work, marks them as essential elements in a creative dialogue – in musical as well as extra-musical contexts.
In order to contextualize my works and ideas I have studied the work and writings of musicians active in the fields of composition, improvisation, and electronic music. I have analyzed their terminology and perspectives, and I have reflected on the ways in which they deepen my understanding and practical adaptations of freedom and fixity in music. To broaden my perspective I also looked at scholarly ideas which belong to non-musical disciplines, for example philosophy and technological studies. This wider context also points towards the omnipresence of the concepts of freedom and fixity: their combination should also be comprehended as a social, philosophical, and even ethical – rather than a strictly musical – issue. My observations could be applied in such disciplines as education, socio-political thinking, or organizational theories, and suggest that freedom – explained as the individual's ability and responsibility to invent, interact, and adapt to dynamic situations in real time – can integrate with pre-existing intentions, ideas, and structures, and that this integration can establish a creative and productive approach.