1.5.2 Contextualising in a practical field

Understanding my work as part of a musical scene and history as a whole is, as discussed in Section 1.3, crucial. This is what I see my project in the light of.  Since my project is first and foremost a practical investigation, I will have to leave the oversight of music and art history to the musicologists, and rather focus more on what has been most important for my practical musical development. A former fellow in the Norwegian Artistic Research Fellowship Program, Andreas Aaase, puts it like this:


“I don’t think performing musicians practice source critique in the academic sense either, but gather influences instead, and establish new platforms of expression in a hunter-gatherer process. Consequently, I think I need to meet the demands for contextualization not through interdisciplinary theoretical art theory, but rather by naming my musical influences, showing what I have borrowed from whom.” (Aase 2009[1])


Andreas Aase’s project and mine are both similar and different. We are both working in the field of real-time improvisation, where embodied knowledge (“reflection in action” [2]) seem to have more crucial importance for the artistic outcome than the “reflection on and around action”, as pointed out in Section 1.3.1. Aase’s project, “Improvisation in Scandinavian and traditional guitar”, is strongly connected to methods relating to jazz and traditional music. These are both oral traditions where (at least in the earlier part of jazz history) the performer’s sense of tradition and stylistic detail is crucial. In both traditions direct imitation and “borrowing” are important methods for gradually “reconstructing” your play to a larger or lesser degree, and thereby creating your own style rooted in tradition. Aase’s influences are very clear and outspoken, and can easily be traced in his practical work. My project is however, not quite as clear as Aase’s when it comes to tradition and sources. In my project it will be more difficult to show in a concrete way “what I have borrowed from whom” as Aase puts it. After finishing my period of singing jazz standards and Joni Mitchell tunes, practicing imitation and studying stylistic details has not been my method. My method has rather been, along with creating and performing music for the acoustic voice, also experimenting and exploring new musical possibilities with electronic instruments and sounds, and investigating the new roles this work has opened up for me as a vocalist in the field of improvised music. My work is not concentrated on one type of musical expression alone. It is based on influences from a diversity of genres, and also the musical expressions and personalities of the musicians I have played with along the way. Many of these expressions can be recognised as part of the large, highly diverse and genre-crossing field of modern jazz; others as part of the smaller, but diverse field of vocal performance art – and some crossing both fields. Other influences have also been important for my project. In the following I will therefore try to reveal how I experience my influences under these “labels”:


The field of modern jazz

– The field of vocal performance art

– Other influences


Further, I will look briefly at how my work relates to and also differs from some of the (to me) relevant artists in these fields, which I will do in the section entitled “Other artists and me”.

Next page  ➡


[1] Aase, Andreas: “Documentation and reflection, Improvisation in Scandinavian traditional guitar”. Department of Music, NTNU, The National Norwegian Artistic Research Fellowship Programme, October 2009.


[2] Donald Schøn suggests that the practitioner “knows more than she is able to tell”, and that this tacit knowledge first becomes visible through action. Donald Schøn: “The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. London: Maurice Temple Smith, 1983.

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