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University of Gothenburg

Artistic research in musical performance and interpretation

Artistic 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.

Description of the field and strategies

Photo: Natalie Greppi


As 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.