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Research areas

Artistic research in the performing arts

Photo: Natalie GreppiArtistic research in the performing arts at the Academy of Music and Drama spans a wide artistic area that includes several different arts: theatre, opera, musicals, performance art and other movement-based, participatory or cross-disciplinary forms of performing arts. Artistic practice is the focus of research within the field of performing arts. This field involves the study and development of forms and conditions for the performing arts with the help of relevant methods, in interplay with the artistic field and society in general.

The research methods are often performative, action-oriented, and experience-based, and are oriented towards both highlighting and analysing the artistic process, as well as experimenting with and staging new experimental situations. The forms and methods of the performing arts are central to the design of the research, but also take place in dialogue with scholarly fields such as philosophy, sociology, medicine and theatre and performance theory.

Proximity within the Performing Arts Unit at the Academy of Music and Drama reduces the distance between the different levels of education; doctoral students, undergraduates, researchers and other teachers regularly meet in various forums. During the current period (2019–2020), the entire performing arts area is focused on dramaturgy in particular as a common theme, which permeates the joint in-depth study days and research activities in the unit. The focus here is on new dramaturgical and narrative methods within the art forms.

  • Expanded description of the field and strategies for research in the performing arts

    Background

    Photo: Natalie GreppiArtistic research in the performing arts is still a relatively young research area in Sweden. The Academy of Music and Drama has pursued senior research and offered a third-cycle subject area in this field since the mid-2000s. For many years, the Academy of Music and Drama has also hosted artistic development projects by teachers. Research at the Academy of Music and Drama spans a wide artistic field that includes several different art forms: theatre, opera, musicals, performance art and other movement-based, participatory or cross-disciplinary forms of performing arts. Artistic practice is the focus of research within the field of performing arts. It involves the study and development of forms and conditions for the performing arts with the help of relevant methods, in interplay with the artistic field and society in general. The research can focus on questions relevant to a given practice or artistic field; this may involve methodology, design, dramaturgical structures, production terms or audience interaction. It may also involve questions that are relevant in another field or to society at large and which pertain to political, social or aesthetic aspects.

    Performing arts is a small unit, which brings different levels of education and artistic specialisations closer. Doctoral students, undergraduates, researchers and other teachers meet here regularly in various forums and there is interdisciplinary dialogue. The research environment is simultaneously bigger, as it also includes the entire Academy of Music and Drama, with its shared seminars, courses and units for doctoral students and researchers. In addition to this, there is a common graduate school and numerous research activities at the faculty level.

    Specialisations and methods

    Photo: Natalie GreppiResearch in the performing arts has largely evolved through individual projects and interests, which coincides with the pluralistic and inclusive approach within our faculty since research began, but also with how research has coalesced nationally.

    During the first few years, significant focus was placed on how to articulate the work of performing artists – and artistic research. A need has existed to articulate and document experiences, processes and work methods and to develop a voice for performing artists (actors, singers, etc.) within research who traditionally have not been the ones articulating themselves regarding work in the theatre. This focus characterises early research-oriented projects in the unit. It has often involved documenting educational methods, analysing specific artistic practices and processes, usually in relation to a given theme, and formulating possible paths for artistic research.

    From a national perspective as well, artistic research in theatre has largely come to focus on actors’ work, with a basis in professional skill, practical knowledge and professional research with the help of critical reflection on the actors’ work methods. In recent years, this perspective has expanded to include more professional functions, more cross-disciplinary artistic expressions, and also other ways of viewing the traditional professions. This trend is clear within performing arts research at the Academy of Music and Drama, which in recent years has taken interest in the position of the director in collaborative post-dramatic processes, in artistic forms in theatre and opera that are movement-based, site-specific, and participatory, and in gender-aware and intersectional perspectives. Research in opera and musical theatre is pursued nationally by singers, composers and directors. The field clearly borders musical research, including composition and interpretation, and the lines between them are often fluid. The Academy of Music and Drama is engaged in research and development based in particular on the singer’s perspective, often strongly connected to issues related to gender, interactivity and new artistic forms. Research in musical theatre and musicals is lacking today both nationally and internationally to a significant extent, and is an important area for future development.

    Research methods in the performing arts are often performative, action-oriented, and experience-based, and focus on both highlighting and analysing the artistic process and on experimenting with and staging new experimental situations. The forms and methods of the performing arts are central to how the research is designed, but also take place in clear dialogue with scholarly fields such as philosophy, sociology, medicine and theatre and performance theory. Artistic research in the performing arts is developing and constantly testing new forms of writing and documentation in dialogue with other fields and with artistic research overall. For example, it is home to the development of auto-ethnographic and performative writing, graphic scores, different forms of physical and site-specific surveys, experiments with artistic formats such as libretto or play scripts, podcasts or film. It is striking that artistic forms and meta-reflections are often intertwined and stimulate one another. Performing arts formats such as performance lecture, research performance and essay theatre are being explored.

    The collective and multidisciplinary nature of the performing arts keenly allows cross-disciplinary questions. There is a connection to common areas of interest within many fields, such as psychology, medicine and urban studies. One example of such a partnership is a collaborative doctoral project between the Academy of Music and Drama and GPCC (Sahlgrenska), which is studying how to use the work methods of actors and directors to develop methods and perspectives in person-centred care. Another example is the previous collaboration with an archive project in Critical Heritage Studies at GU, in a project on performing arts in urban and public spaces. It is essential to further develop the meeting points and longer-term collaborations between performance practices and other research areas.

    Initiative 2018–2021

    Photo: Natalie GreppiFor a three-year period beginning in 2018, the performing arts area will focus on working with a common theme: dramaturgy. This pertains to research and development but also to the various education levels. In research and development, the focus is on new narratives and dramaturgical methods.

    Changes to the performing arts landscape in recent years have made experimental forms of practices within such areas as performance art, live art and physical theatre more visible and present. When movement-based, post-dramatic and cross-artistic expressions shape performing arts, it has implications for the dramaturgical and narrative structures generated in performances and theatrical events. An international research discourse is now in development that asks questions about new forms of dramaturgy, often connected to societal questions. The purpose of this performing arts focus is to connect this type of research to questions about artistic and educational perspectives and which can highlight interesting challenges for tomorrow’s performing artists. In autumn 2018, a new doctoral student with a specialisation on movement-based performing arts and new dramaturgy was accepted. In January 2019, the Academy of Music and Drama hosted the annual International Platform for Performer Training conference, this time with a focus on dramaturgical matters.

    Collaboration

    Researchers and doctoral students in the performing arts belong to many research networks. The most significant include the Colloquium for Artistic Research in Performing Arts (CARPA), International Platform for Performer Training (IPPT), International Federation of Theatre Research (FIRT), Nordic Summer University (NSU) and the Society of Artistic Research (SAR). To this list we can add the faculty’s own platform, PARSE, or national networks such as the National Network for Performing Arts Research and the Swedish Biennial for Performing Arts. The international Gothenburg Dance and Theatre Festival, which has been an important collaborative partner over the years, can also be included.

    Research also involves many partnerships with theatres, independent groups and institutions primarily in western Sweden, through individual artistic research projects or public research seminars. They include Folkteatern, Atalante, Konstepidemin, Operation Opera, Smålands Musik och Teater or Akademi Trappan. Collaborations are also underway with other units in the university, such as Theatre Studies, Valand Academy, the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Research, GPCC and Critical Heritage Studies, as well as the International Science Festival.

    A specially focused partnership is planned with Shota Rustaveli Theater and Film, Georgia State University in Tbilisi, in the third- and second-cycle levels in 2018–2021.

  • Artistic research in musical performance and interpretation

    Photo: Natalie GreppiArtistic research in musical performance and interpretation covers the entire musical field, regardless of genre or mode of expression. One common denominator is that the research is methodologically integrated with musical performance and interpretation and cannot be carried out without a musical practice. Research explores questions about music and sound creation and musical practice, as well as how musical performance and interpretation are connected to and can express societal phenomena in general. Researchers use theories and methods from the artistic area and from social sciences, humanities and engineering and technology. At the Academy of Music and Drama, research is conducted in many different areas including improvisation, composition and musical interpretation. Research projects that exceed or do not fit into these categories are increasingly common, as are projects that unite different artistic forms of expression and research disciplines. Research in musical performance and interpretation has a relatively long tradition at the Academy of Music and Drama, with roots in musicology with a creative artistic orientation. The Academy of Music and Drama has a close connection to the activities within what was previously known as the Göteborg Organ Art Center (GoArt). The Lindblad Studio offers an advanced experimental and laboratory setting for research in sound and media.

  • Expanded area description and strategies for research in musical performance and interpretation

    Background

    Photo: Natalie GreppiAs early as 1979, there were “plans for graduate education for artistic research and development” in Gothenburg. It was proposed there that the “dissertation” could be replaced with “a presentation of a product, such as a record, a sculpture, etc. together with a written description of how the product was created” (Edling 2009, p. 20). Thanks to the unique departmental solidarity between the School of Music and the Department of Musicology at the University of Gothenburg from 1984–1997, a third-cycle programme was developed in the borderland between traditional musicology and practical musicianship. This Artistic Creative Third-cycle Programme (Konstnärligt Kreativa Forskarutbildning, KKFU) used both recognised scholarly methods and artistic practices. The dissertations that were produced tended towards a research tradition stemming from the humanities’ perspective, but in which the tools had been adapted to the artist’s questions and problem complex. These projects were often historically oriented and connected to interpretive questions. They demonstrated the possibility of acknowledging and using subjective aspects and experiences in a research project. In 2000, the Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts at the University of Gothenburg was granted the right to award the degree of doctor of philosophy in artistic research and the first doctoral student was admitted to the faculty’s graduate school. More and more dissertations now researched personal artistic practices, for example through theoretically articulating the musical knowledge found in doing, in presentation, and in musical processes. After this initial phase, research in musical performance and interpretation is now an established part of the research community in close interaction with artistic practice and in dialogue with other research areas.

    Description of the environment

    Photo: Natalie GreppiArtistic research in musical performance and interpretation at the Academy of Music and Drama is conducted both in the form of/through senior research (both internally and externally funded) and through doctoral and post-doc projects. Collaborative projects dominate senior research, while doctoral projects are usually conducted individually. Artistic development projects in music give the academic staff at the Academy of Music and Drama an opportunity for research-focused or research-like practices in project format.

    Addressed issues include such areas as musical processes, how musical performance and interpretation are connected to society in general, and epistemological questions that lead to an expanded and deepened view of knowledge. Among both ongoing dissertation projects and senior research, there is a focus on both expanding and conceptualising the understanding of materials, methods and techniques. There is significant interest in experimental expressions and sound creation, partly in interaction with other artistic specialisations. The Lindblad Studio offers an advanced experimental and laboratory research and educational setting that facilitates an exploration of questions about instrument and material research, acoustics, music technology, sound synthesis, computer-aided composition and information technology.

    The research also aims to broaden and develop questions about our urban sound environment and to explore the social and political ramifications of the urban soundscape and other sound environments. Research on historic organs and other keyboard instruments is another key area through proximity to the earlier research centre, the Göteborg Organ Art Center (GOArt), and the background in historic interpretive research. Even so, a division is still discernible between the subject areas of improvisation, composition and interpretation/musical performance, even if many projects run counter to these categories or challenge, renegotiate and problematise them.

    Methods

    Photo: Natalie GreppiThe methodology is practice-based: research methods often involve artistic experiments or staging, or they use explorative forms through music creation, combined with meta-reflections. Methods that are connected to other established research in technology, pedagogy, psychology or musicology are also common, as are case studies, observations, source studies, quantitative methods/measurements, data compilation and different forms of writing. We view method development as a dynamic process that is strongly connected to an expanded and deepened theoretical understanding of the field of artistic research. The research projects often use theory formation inspired by philosophy, general literary studies, gender theory, critical theory or pedagogy. More recently, such theories as performative theory, new materialism and theories on intersectionality have been given more space.

    Increased contact with other artistic fields provides access to broadened concepts and a widened understanding. While contact with musical theatre has always been strong, there is now also close contact with performance art, free art and new media, for example. Senior research is often conducted via cross-disciplinary collaborations with researchers in the humanities and social sciences, educational sciences, natural sciences and technology, medicine and health, for example. The artistic music researchers at the Academy of Music and Drama are practicing musicians/tonal artists, and they use their experience to choose and formulate research questions. This results in critical innovation and different research questions from the ones in other musical research.

    Our ambition is for research to be relevant to musical life overall, to higher education in music and to society in general through renewal in musical creation and deepened insights into music as a social phenomenon and expression. With musical performance and interpretation as a research method, alternative perspectives and forms can be clarified and new tools created for an understanding of our era, our relationships to other people and our surrounding world. Research in musical performance and interpretation can articulate the ability of art to critique both artistic and other scholarly experiences.

    From the Swedish Research Council’s 2014 Overview of Artistic Research:

    Research is conducted through artistic work, supported by investigative methods and the formation of theories, all of which may also be drawn from other areas of research. The purpose is often to highlight artistic production and knowledge processes, questions pertaining to the expression of the art, its terms and sensory, narrative and performative aspects of art. This research involves contextualizing artistic projects and developing research methods and theories, and interactions with materials, history and society. […]

    Artistic research is thus of very high and growing relevance to (1) artistic practices in society; (2) artistic education; (3) business and society in a wider sense; and (4) the research establishment, where artistic research can help to develop multidisciplinary themes and methodologies. Artistic research also has particular potential to lend more depth to discussions on quality, expanded concepts of knowledge, and forms of publication and communication.

    Presentation forms

    Photo: Natalie GreppiArtistic research problematises the forms used thus far to report results and present research, and it experiments with and develops new forms with more modes that differ from verbal text. Research in musical performance and interpretation has always been presented through text as well as music, through scores and/or sound via music played in concert and in urban or other environments or recorded on CD. Today’s technical development has enabled communication and dissemination with multiple modalities, which creates conditions to convey deeper knowledge and insights into new, more suitable methods. One example of a new presentation form is the Audio Paper, an expansion of the traditional paper presentation format in the form of a sound production. An audio paper is a performative presentation combining intellectual arguments, affective understanding and sonic aesthetics through a creative approach to communication.

    Challenges and initiatives

    Our goal is to maintain and develop a strong and solid research environment at the Academy of Music and Drama with post doctoral projects, senior research and doctoral projects. A stable environment will also allow us to contribute to strengthening career pathways for young researchers in the subject. Collaboration between senior projects and doctoral projects promotes subject depth and high, subject-specific quality. One key factor is an increased share of research that works thematically across subject borders and increased interaction with other research areas. Interdisciplinary problem complexes and hybrid research forms produce expanded possibilities for knowledge production. Contact with other research areas and research teams containing different skills develop and broaden research methodology and methodological pluralism. With this approach, we can expand the concept of musical arts, continue to deepen subject-specific research, and develop artistic research as a whole.

    Collaboration

    Researchers at the Academy of Music and Drama work actively within the National Network for Artistic Research in Music to strengthen the field of research and build a discourse in which methods and results can be formulated in such a way that creates a deeper understanding of the possibilities and functions of artistic research. The Academy of Music and Drama also has a close collaboration with the work of the previous Göteborg Organ Art Center (GOArt) which pursues interpretive research based on the interaction between the musician and music through the instrument. We also have a close relationship with the Swedish Society for Musicology. Internationally, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands and the other Scandinavian countries are at the leading edge of research in musical performance and interpretation.
    The research subject is growing rapidly and increasing the number of international collaborations therefore has high priority.

    Edling, M. (2009). “Artistic research and development in Sweden 1977–2008. Reflections on a history that appears to be repeating itself.” Swedish Research Council yearbook 2009.

  • Research specialisations in music education and arts education

    Photo: Natalie GreppiThese research focuses are oriented around teaching and musical learning in formal and informal learning environments.
    Research in the arts is didactically oriented and targets learning and teaching in schools and teacher education.
    Music education is a broader subject covering all forms of education, teaching, influence and training, where music is included along with musical learning and its preconditions in informal contexts and where learning is not in focus.
    Both internationally and nationally, research in music education and educational sciences point both to questions connected to central pedagogical problem complexes and to how artistic ability is shaped within the artistic practice.

Page Manager: Tobias Egle|Last update: 5/9/2019
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