1.Understanding Music through Modern Technology
d) The Composition and Its Role in the Ensemble
What is a composition and what role does it play in the music ensemble? A composition is not merely a score explaining the outlines of the performed music. Indeed, we often sing, play or hum melodies that are not even based on a score and yet these also count as compositions. How do we explain the genesis of such an apparently abstract structure? This question is even more problematic when we consider the fuzzy boundaries between interpretation and composing: How much can an existing melody be altered before it is an entirely different composition? The composition constitutes the ‘rules of conduct’ for the musicians but if the very same musicians are at the same time making or radically changing these rules, it seems we are dealing with a circular process. This philosophical project attempts to describe this process in terms of epistemic logic, a branch of logic that aims at formalising arguments containing statements about the knowledge or belief agents may have of a given piece of information. The adequacy of this method will be seen when one considers the composition as common knowledge in the ensemble: something that everyone knows that everyone knows that everyone knows etc. and therefore coordinates the actions of each musician. The relevance of analyzing the composition and its interaction in ensemble playing to the area of Computer Music Modelling and Information Retrieval should be apparent: to be able to identify a given work of music, one must be able to identify its boundaries, and to create serious virtual accompanists one must also here be able to define how one can ‘move’ within the composition as a set of rules.
The PhD dissertation Playing by the Rules? A Philosophical Approach to Normativity and Coordination in Music Performance was successfully defended by SRFM at The University of Southern Denmark on October 7, 2010.
Lars Ole Sauerberg, Professor of English, University of Southern Denmark, Chair.
Catherine Z. Elgin, Professor of the Philosophy of Education, Graduate School of Education. Harvard University.
Daniel Bonevac, Professor of Philosophy, University of Texas, Austin.
Supervisor: Cynthia M. Grund, Associate Professor, Institute of Philosophy, Education & the Study of Religions (now Insitute for the Study of Culture); University of Southern Denmark.
The dissertation is available online HERE.
For other project-related work - completed and in-progress - by SRFM, please see http://www.orkesterfilosofi.dk.
(Søren R. Frimodt-Møller)