classical music
doctoral research

Musical Complexity: Nature of limits and limits of nature

  • Onderzoekers: Lukas Huisman
  • Promotoren: Geert Dhondt (School of Arts), Daan Vandewalle (School of Arts), Marc Leman (Ghent University, dept. of Art, Music and Theatre Studies), Luk Vaes (Orpheus Institute, Ghent)

2012 - 2016


Scores of complex 20th century solo piano pieces can be difficult to perform and can include some elements that may even be impossible to realize. The works of K. Sorabji, I. Xenakis, K. Stockhausen, B. Ferneyhough and M. Finnissy illustrate this compositional tendency. As an introduction, the traditions that lead to composers who challenge performers are examined. The question whether complex scores can be rewritten, when this is desirable, and what the possible influence is on the final result, will be examined with analytical methods. In addition to well-known models of music analysis, including thematic or serial analysis, graphic analysis will be conducted for a better understanding of the gestures and micro-gestures in the selected works. MIDI-analysis are conducted of performances utilizing relevant fragments from these performing editions, to establish which performing edition models are most effective. Research results will be disseminated through article publications and a dissertation. An artistic component will evaluate the artistic added value of these research results. All works that were examined are performed in concert. The artistic component includes the publication of a typeset edition of the Symphonic Nocturne of K. Sorabji based on research results, and the first world performance of this work of over two hours of duration. This research project will be conducted, primarily, as a performing musician integrating higher level research skills and, secondly, as a composer. The project findings are relevant for students and professional performers of complex contemporary solo piano music, as well as composers and editors.

Research projects