1.4 Research goals – what is “new”?

A main goal for this research has been to explore new possibilities and roles as an improvising vocalist. This might appear to be a rather vague goal – if the musical landscape in which I operate, with its inherent “theories”, is not considered to be the framework of this research.

 

“Theory is a strong language form. It is the bearer of the principal ways of viewing the world, and makes this view more specific. On the other hand, when one theory is selected, another is excluded. Thus, theory can clarify a situation by means of selecting some perspectives, and excluding others. This is very important when it comes to posing research questions. Theory encourages us to pose certain questions, and exclude others. One might say that this is the core of research methods.” (Nyrnes, 2006, p. 17)

 

During, and through my research, I have gradually become more aware of the genre and field I relate to, i.e. my artistic landscape. Even if I still look at my work as being genre-crossing and open to a variety of impulses, the process has made me aware of some important borderlines by reflecting on my personal choices. This demonstrates to me the importance of the artistic field’s “theories” as a way of selecting perspectives, and also it clarifies how the field’s implemented “theories” may become clearer through a research process. My goal: to explore new possibilities and roles as an improvising vocalist is fundamentally related to a genre. My relationship with this genre has emerged from my musical background, and this relationship is also mirrored by my choice of ensembles and musicians in this project (as pointed out in the project description (c.f. 1.1 and 1.2)). To summarise everything in one sentence, my goal could perhaps have been formulated more explicitly as: “To explore new possibilities and roles as an improvising vocalist, in the improvised interplay in the genre-crossing field of modern European jazz-improvisation”. This would not sound too good, but the formulation would point to the “theories” involved: the voice as an instrument, the genre, and the act of improvisation ‒ in interplay. By bringing in these fields of “theory”, it will be easier to identify the new in my research:

– The new possibilities in sound are new in the light of the acoustic voice as an instrument, and in the light of the use of these possibilities within my genre.

– The new roles, made available through these new possibilities, are new in the light of the singer’s traditional role in the improvised interplay in my genre.

By using these new possibilities, I experience that new kinds of musical expressions are created in the interplays I take part in, that are contributing to my genre.

A second goal, connected to the work on my solo project, has been to “explore artistic possibilities for the vocalist in the continuum ranging from narrative storytelling to ‟abstract”, processed sound, within the same performance/form.”  I wanted to “examine what happens to the relationship between the audience and the performer, when the voice moves back and forth in this continuum between referential meaning and pure sound”. What theories are involved? There could be many, and the questions are in some ways ambitious ‒ but also fairly simple; I wanted to know how the audience experienced the performance, and to use this information as a perspective and reference in my artistic development of a ‒ to me ‒ new form. What gave me the courage to go through with this idea, as a part of my research, was the opportunity provided for collaborating with musicologist Andreas Bergsland, who could use his theory and methods to set up a research situation and collect feedback from the audience. This feedback then became part of our “theory”. This performance form is new in the light of my genre, although not new in form, when seen from the perspective of vocal performance art. However, the expression is individual, especially through the choice of the personal and “simple” story. When performed in the Norwegian language, it serves as a new contribution to the Norwegian contemporary scene.

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