classical music
doctoral research

Tone – Colour – (... in silence)

  • Onderzoekers: Daan Janssens
  • Promotoren: Frank Nuyts (School of Arts), Marc Leman (Ghent University, dept. Art, Music and Theatre Studies)

2007 – 2016

The Tone – Colour – (… in silence) project is grounded in the personal compositional activities of the researcher. During the 19th century, in one work, composers often aimed at thematic coherence. Ideally, some or even all themes and motives in a composition were based on one or just a few musical cells. To this end, thematic transformation was a frequently used composition technique. Thematic transformation can be seen as a technique in which a musical theme is modified “so that in a new context, it is different but yet manifestly made of the same elements” (MACDONALD, Hugh, Transformation, Thematic, in: The Groves dictionary of Music and Musicians). Famous examples in which this technique is brilliantly illustrated are the Sonata by Franz Liszt, or Der Ring Des Nibelungen by Richard Wagner. Later on, twelve tone technique and serialism can be seen as the logical consequence of this, as both also aim at creating a work based on only a limited amount of musical material – a good illustration are the dodecaphonic pieces of Anton Webern, where the pitch organization of the whole composition is based on one twelve tone series. In this artistic research project, my objective is to search for how the concept of thematic transformation can be used for the organization of musical material other than thematic. Can the transformation of musical parameters other than pitch and duration be used to structure the musical material within a composition, not only in a merely theoretical way (like in serial music), but also with different degrees of perceptibility? Method Theoretical part: Existing literature on the use of thematic and musical transformation and the way composers have approached these will be evaluated. A large number of scores will be analyzed and by attending several courses, meetings, conferences and seminars, creating a solid basis for further exploration will be developed. Artistic part: Attendance of several composition seminars (e.g. Darmstadt 2008 and 2010, Ensemble Modern composition seminar 2008-2009, Acanthes 2009) will broaden the accumulated knowledge further, as will the attendance of composition master classes by composers as Marco Stroppa, Brian Ferneyhough, Bruno Mantovani, Mark Andre. Collaboration with (worldwide) renowned soloists and ensembles such as violoncellist Jean-Guihen Queyras, Spectra ensemble, Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, Ensemble Orchestral Contemporain, in concert houses as ‘Flagey’, Kaaitheater’, ‘Concertgebouw Brugge’‘Arsenal’ (Metz) will complete possible gaps in the framework.

Research projects