The Aesthetics of Music and Sound -              

Cross-Disciplinary Interplay between the Humanities, Technology and Musical Practice    


Project Descriptions




4. Practice-based Research


f)  A Program of Practice-based Research Designed to Examine Listener Reaction to Olivier Messiaen's Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus



Messiaen's purpose for writing music was essentially a simple one. As he wrote, "My faith is the grand drama of my life. I'm a believer, so I sing words of God to those who have no faith. I give bird songs to those who dwell in cities and have never heard them, make rhythms for those who know only military marches or jazz, and paint colours for those who see none".


Messiaen's devotion to Catholicism is evinced in his writing and in the manner in which he provided titles for his compositions. A non-believer myself, it fascinates me that when I perform – as I have in several concerts - or listen to Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus I feel a kind of spiritual devotion and devoutness akin to that of a religious person that no other composer's music have managed to evoke in me.


During  2011 I will record the complete cycle as part of a larger project involving practice-based research. It is my intention that the ongoing process of rehearsing and preparing for the recording sessions should shed some further light upon the elements in Messiaen's musical language that make such a strong impact not only on me but certainly also on many others who listen to Messiaen's music. In this investigation I attempt to come closer to the core of what it is in Messiaen's music that often evokes such sensation of spirituality even among non-believers.



Morten Heide



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Institute for the Study of Culture

Institut for Kulturvidenskaber (IKV)


Research Director for

The Aesthetics of

Music and Sound


Editor and Webmaster for

Cynthia M. Grund





(For descriptions, please click on the tabs at the top of the page.)


1.Understanding Music through Modern Technology

a) Recognizing Music

b) Recognition of Expressive Styles in Music Performance

c) Autonomous Agents – An Accompanist in VR

d) The Composition and Its Role in the Ensemble

2. Intermediality

a) Intermediality

b) Lyric and Meaning in Music

c) Towards an Aesthetic Theory of Correlativity

d) Are Treatments of the Metaphysics of Music in Medieval Literature Relevant for Current Theories of Musical Meaning and Significance?

3. Learning through Music

a) Music Communication

b) Children's Knowledge Creation with Intelligent Agents in Music Education - Understanding for Optimizing Motivations

c) Adaptable Interfaces & Augmented Avatar - Introducing Tools for the Disabled and Musicians in VR

d) Community Singing and/or Ideology

e) Creating Creativity

f) Understanding Musical Creativity and Aesthetics in a Digital-Based Youth Cultural Context

g) The Sound of Movement - the Sound of Learning

4. Practice-based Research

a) Analysis and Implementation of Practice-Based Research

b) Relationship of Gesture to Communicative Authenticity in Performance

c) Musical Implications of the Work of Selected Philosophers

d) Employing the Methods of Discourse Narrative to Support Interpretive Choices Faced by the Practicing Musician

e) Soundmapping the Genes

f) A Program of Practice-based Research Designed to Examine Listener Reaction to Olivier Messiaens Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant Jesus

g) The Interrelationship of Notation and Performance

h) Technological and Aesthetic Investigations of the Physical Movements of Pianists

5. Selective Bibliography