Intercultural Engagements in Music Composition and Performance

Learning Objective

  • To foster knowledge of past and present engagements with cultural difference in the field of music.
  • To give participants the concepts and analytical tools to critically assess the potentials, challenges and concerns involved in any such engagement.
  • To introduce participants to the basic characteristics of music traditions from the Asian, African and Latin American continents.
  • To help participants to position themselves as artists in a globalizing world. 

Course Description
Today, ever more creative professionals are interested in engaging with cultural traditions that they – at least initially – consider as different from their own. In this course, we will analyze such engagements within the field of music in the broadest sense, including the discipline/tradition that students are majoring in: early music, Classical-Romantic music, contemporary music, jazz, pop, electronic music, ballet, opera, musical, film music, etc. Of the case studies that we will explore, we will first consider the history, aesthetics, music-theoretical and performative characteristics of the music traditions involved, and subsequently analyze and critically assess the ways in which these traditions interact in the work or performance under discussion. In previous editions of this course the cases of Félicien David, Camille Saint-Saëns, Claude Debussy, Béla Bartók, Leoš Janáček, George Enescu, Ahmed Adnan Saygun, Aziz El-Shawan, Olivier Messiaen, Ton de Leeuw, Henry Cowell, Luciano Berio, Chou Wen-chung, Tōru Takemitsu, Haruomi Hosono, and the Beatles have been discussed, as well as more recent intercultural projects such as the Boston-based Silk Road Ensemble and the Amsterdam-based Atlas Ensemble. 

Course Details

teacher Harm Langenkamp
term September 2024-April 2025
participation The course is open to master students from all departments of the Conservatory. Previous knowledge or experience about the topic is not required.
method of instruction Weekly seminar sessions and individual coaching. Activities in class will include critical listening/viewing, score analysis, discussion of (artistic) research on interculturality, and the sharing of each other’s perspectives and expertise.
readings Materials for study will be made available at the start of the course.
assessment Apart from reading/listening assignments and their contributions to class discussions, participants are asked to conduct a research project on a topic of their choice, in a format that most appeals to them and/or benefits their professional training. This can be the traditional essay (for musicologists), but could also be a brief composition with a verbal explanation of the underlying concept (for composers), a performance of a solo or chamber work with reflection (for performers), rehearsal notes for an orchestral work (for conductors), a lesson plan (for educators), a soundtrack to visuals (for composers of film music), etc.
credits 10
related electivesAdvanced Rhythm (for composers)
  As Waters Rise: Musical Storytelling
  Music for an Inclusive Society
  Tuning and Temperament