Performing, Experiencing and Theorizing Augmented Listening [PETAL]

Interpretation and Analysis of Macroform in Cyclic Musical Works

research project at the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz
project duration: Sep 1 2017 -  31 Aug 2020
principal investigator: Christian Utz [e-mail]
senior scientist (post-doc): Thomas Glaser
university assistant (pre-doc) [01/2019-08/2020]: Majid Motavasseli
university assistant (pre-doc) [09/2017-12/2018]: Laurence Willis

associate scientists: Cosima Linke (Hochschule für Musik Saar), Kilian Sprau (Universität der Künste Berlin)

funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF)

research board

Mine Doğantan Dack, University of Cambridge
Bruno Gingras, University of Innsbruck
Edward Klorman, McGill University Montreal
Markus Neuwirth, Anton Bruckner Privatuniversität Linz / École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
Bartolo Musil, University Mozarteum Salzburg
John Rink, University of Cambridge
Danielle Sofer, Dublin

POSTER - presented at the Annual Conference of the Austrian Society for Musicology, December 2019, University of Innsbruck


As a follow-up project to the perception-sensitive, “performative” music-analytical approach developed in the FWF-project A Context-Sensitive Theory of Post-tonal Sound Organization [CTPSO] (2012–14), the present project Performing, Experiencing and Theorizing Augmented Listening [PETAL] scrutinizes the intersection between musical analysis and musical performance by building on the interaction of quantitative and qualitative research methods, here signified by the term “augmented listening” (Nicholas Cook). PETAL will focus on the area of macroformal analysis by systematically investigating and categorizing performance strategies towards cyclic works, taking up the idea of a “(formal) analysis in real time” (Robert Hill) through a specific disposition of tempo, dynamics, or timing in performance. By integrating diverse perspectives on the interdependence between local and global dimensions of musical form into a comprehensive analytical model, our research sets out to contest the widely shared assumption that large-scale form is irrelevant for perception and performance and that musical meaning is predominantly created and grasped “from moment to moment”. We hypothesize, in contrast, that different performance strategies towards the large-scale form of the same piece of music may have a substantial effect on how this form may be experienced or analyzed.

Three researchers (Christian Utz as principal investigator [PI], Thomas Glaser as a post-doc-
researcher and Laurence Willis as a pre-doc-researcher, together with the two post-doc associate scientists Cosima Linke and Kilian Sprau) will investigate a corpus of cyclic compositions of the solo piano and lied repertoire comprising works from the 18th to 20th centuries, including complex cycles such as Bach’s “Goldberg Variations”, Beethoven’s “Diabelli Variations” and Kurtág’s Kafka-Fragmente. We employ a threefold research strategy emerging from pilot studies by the PI: 

(1) Research into secondary historical sources on the relationship between macroform-related analysis and performance practices pertaining to the selected repertoire, aiming at an integration of historical dimensions of musical listening and musical performance into the project’s model.
(2) A study of musical recordings and related sources, documenting a comprehensive performance and recording history of the selected repertoire and applying a combination of quantitative (computer-based) and qualitative research methods.
(3) New, innovative dialogic forms of research in a series of three interactive workshops, in which PETAL-scholars, collaborating performers and scholars, as well as other expert and non-expert listeners share their perspectives on the selected repertoire. The workshops will interlock performance and analysis closely and experiment with different performance and listening modes.

The workshops will be documented in the form of video and audio recordings and written transcripts. This documentation will be interpreted against the framework provided by the other two major research components. The connection between the three fields of research will be facilitated by a computer database in which all materials will be linked via an elaborated keyword and metadata system. Results will be made accessible through a project website, a number of open access peer-reviewed articles, two monographs, an open access edited volume as well as a number of annotated score editions.