Dissertation

In 2023, Jessica received her doctorate at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Graz, for a dissertation on musical interplay and empathy. In accordance with her chamber music practice, she conducted artistic research featuring multiple duo settings with different partners, further outlined in the following abstract:

The musical dyad - on interplay in duo settings

This doctoral thesis is concerned with obtaining a nuanced understanding of musical interplay in duo settings. Its primary focus is on exploring musical togetherness (Miteinander), a phenomenon considered to reach beyond mere musical interaction and to encompass the intersubjective experience of musical and interpersonal relationship. Meaningful musical interaction which is oriented towards profound togetherness can enable the emergence of a ‘We’, of musically being-with each other, of acting and feeling together. This relational state holds a particularly strong aesthetic potential, which is sought to be uncovered by means of Artistic Research.

Due to their intimate configuration, duo settings, as the nucleus of chamber music, entail interdependencies of a special nature. Therefore, they are considered with regard to the particularities of dyadic relationship. This concerns both sonic as well as interpersonal relations and how they unfold and interact in the sphere between score and performance.

In order to shed light on the experiential realm of both the aesthetic and the intersubjective, the thesis draws on a phenomenological perspective and takes an embodied and enactive approach to duo performance. Integrating critical artistic practices and theoretical reflection, the Artistic Research approach allows intersubjective phenomena to surface, to be analysed, as well as to be re-addressed in further artistic practice. By linking the qualitative experience of relationship to aesthetic aspects of musical interplay, it offers a unique perspective on (musical) intersubjectivity.

This thesis features two strands of artistic exploration. Within multiple short-term duo encounters, a systematic and interventional approach enables evidencing phenomena with particular relational-aesthetic value. The insights and aesthetic considerations from these case studies lead to an interdisciplinary research and performance project involving a long-term duo collaboration. Performative means are developed that actively address underlying factors of musical togetherness as well as convey relational processes to an audience.

Finally, the concept of relational interpretation is discussed, in which the relational realm of musical interplay is foregrounded, explored and refined through experimental practice. This leads to an interpretation which is no longer guided by technicalities of musical interaction, but grounded on inter-human values, which are formed and enacted together through musical interplay. Such an interpretation enables jointly created and affectively shared phenomena of musical intersubjectivity. Thus, moments of genuine musical togetherness no longer occur en passant, but are consciously raised as the central goal of the interpretation.

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