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Never Heard Before: A Musical Exploration of Organ Voicing


João Segurado had his public defence of his thesis "Never Heard Before: A Musical Exploration of Organ Voicing" on February 28 in Piteå. The thesis is written within the discipline of Musical Performance and Interpretation. João Segurado is one of two postgraduate students, associated with Konstnärliga Forskarskolan, that belong to the Academy of Music and Drama, University of Gothenburg, in collaboration with the Department of Arts, Communication and Education, Luleå University of Technology.


This study describes the role of organ sounds in musical performance and examines the visions and artistic perspectives of the voicer, who creates the sounds, and the organist, who uses them in performance. Organ pipe sounds are shaped in a process of gradual transformation called voicing, to suit the practice of musical performance, and they influence that practice in significant ways. The name voicing also suggests an approach to sounds that seems to transcend the craft. Voicing means to give voice, and to give voie means to give life. The sounds of the organ are thus shaped with the intent to epitomize forms of human expression that are heard in the context of a musical practice. Thus: what exactly constitutes an organ voice? What type of concerns emerge during this process of voicing? In which ways do the voices that are created influence the music performed on the organ?

The answers to those questions were investigated in the context of collaboration between a voicer and an organist (the author), over a period of roughly two years, while an organ was being built for the concert hall Studio Acusticum at Piteå in northern Sweden. Since the researcher is a musician, the research questions are naturally approached from a musical stance. The results of the research are not only articulated verbally, but also, and just as importantly, enacted through artistic content. The dissertation includes the creation of new artworks and the exploration of artistic media. The ethnographic model is clearly felt within the text as well, as it examines documents, dialogues, sounds, events, and the perspectives of different people.

The title of the dissertation—Never heard before—was originally the motto for the new Studio Acusticum organ that served as a platform for the study. Here it serves to express the idea that the voicer-musician encounter has not previously been the subject of research, and that the materials presented in the text—both the dialogues and the sounds collected during the process of voicing—were things never heard before.

Read João Segurado's thesis here