As Waters Rise: Musical Storytelling

Learning Objective
Spark imagination, strengthen storytelling skills, start or deepen multidisciplinary collaboration and/or creation, explore and communicate impact, deepen creative thinking, reflect on artistic practice and its possible role within society, improve presentation, and creative writing skills.

Course Content
What is the power of a compelling story? How do we apply a narrative to stimulate imagination, and what does it require? When do you feel the impact of something you hear or see in your body, when does it stay with you? When was the last time you were moved? How do you engage others?

As Waters Rise: Musical Storytelling aims to explore these questions together. This course is about finding a story, a story that draws our attention, a story that engages us. Do we always need words to tell a story? No, certainly not as a musician. But if you can't tell the story with words, you often can't do without them either. Over the course of four months, students will develop projects that link this subject with their musical interests. 
You will receive both individual coaching and group work and are expected to engage in concrete exercises that will challenge and deepen your creative thinking, allowing you to enter a state of creative flow. 

But, what does that have to do with water? The Netherlands is a country of water. Through a long history of living with and fighting against it, the Dutch identity has become connected with water. But, with rising sea levels, how long will that connection last? Water is becoming more and more of a concern in society. So how do we relate as artists? Art and music have a long history of expressing and depicting nature and water. How would we represent water musically today? What does it excite in us, and when? During this course, we’ll approach a socially relevant theme such as water artistically and reflect on methods such as delving into archives and history and drawing inspiration from multidisciplinary collaboration and/or creation. 

For students who wish to execute their projects, deepen them, make them feasible, and present a project, there is the opportunity to continue for an additional 5 credits from January to April.

This course aligns with Kim Spierenburg’s Professional Doctorate and artistic research project As Waters Rise: countering eco-anxiety through music and film. 

Individual coaching and group work on:

  • the art of storytelling
  • examples of compelling narratives 
  • multidisciplinary collaboration and/or creation
  • archival methods 
  • musical storytelling 
  • the secret to a good title and synopsis 
  • examples of music depicting nature and water
  • examples representing sea-level rise
  • water represented in other artistic disciplines
  • sonic associations 

Materials and readings

  • Michel van der Aa, The Book of Water
  • Tan Dun, Paper Music
  • The Institute of Sound and Vision’s
  • Steve Reich, It’s Gonna Rain
  • Black Pencil, Schokland Project
  • Amitav Ghosh, The Great Derangement
  • Bill Viola, Ascension and the Raft
  • Emma McCormick-Goodhart, Oceans in Transformation; Underwater (Un)Sound
  • Jonathan Impett (ed.), New Knowledge from the Artist’s Perspective: Discipline and Resistance. Leuven University Press, 2018 (selected readings)
  • .Pekka Niittyvirta and Timo Aho, Lines (57° 59′ N, 7° 16’W)
  • Daan Roosegaarde, Waterlicht
  • … and many more

Course Details

teacher Kim Spierenburg
term September-December 2024 or September 2024-April 2025
assessment * Attendance, active participation in lessons, in-class assignments, concept project proposal, in-class presentation
  * 1 Water, written project synopsis, project title and processing feedback, written reflection assignment, in-class presentation
  * 2 Final Project Presentation with sound/video/image material
credits 5 (one term; 10 (two terms)
related electivesCreative Performance Lab
  Intercultural Engagements in Music Performance and Composition
  New Methodologies for Music Research
  Musical Texture