Photo: Susanna Kekkonen

A doctoral degree produced pedagogical tools for studying and teaching electronic music performance

In his doctoral degree, Alejandro Olarte has produced a pedagogical toolkit for studying and teaching electroacoustic music performance and improvisation. In his thesis Elements of Electroacoustic Music Improvisation and Performance – A Pedagogical Toolkit Olarte has investigated fundamental elements of electroacoustic music, sound theory and its performance aspects through improvisational strategies. Olartes dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Music will take place at the Sibelius Academy, Uniarts Helsinki on May 11th.

The disciplines of electroacoustic music performance and improvisation have been considered in a combined and holistic manner. The thesis offers musical exercises, performance situations, theoretical discussions and suggested developments designed to systematically address the essential questions of becoming a sound performer integrating electrical means with musical expression. The toolkit is presented within a theoretical framework where the main aspects of the discipline have been studied: listening and improvisation, the contributions of the electroacoustic genre to modern musicianship and a core of electronic instruments as tools for performance.

The toolkit has been developed using a process of qualitative inquiry and action research methodology based on fieldwork with university student groups during more than one thousand hours’ of workshops over the past five years. Olarte has examined what are the methods, materials, needs and strategies required to develop skills in the discipline of Electroacoustic Music Performance and Improvisation. The final result is a fully integrated skill set compiled in a book, in which the author attempts the development of a single, cohesive discipline of Electroacoustic Music Performance and Improvisation.

Olarte’s research is a response to the modern challenges of designing pedagogical content towards the development of performance skills with electronic instruments and audio technology.

”Playing with electroacoustic tools must impose no obstacle to the flow of the performer’s intuition and musical thinking. Whereas performance, improvisation and electroacoustic music are too often treated as distinct disciplines, in this work, these topics are developed and explored in an entirely unified manner", Olarte says.

Olarte’s pedagogical toolkit will grant new generations of students of electroacoustic improvisation access and insight into a unified method and discipline; one might further hope for it to spark new relationships between musicians and technology, or even to stimulate further research in domains such as psychoacoustics, acoustics, electroacoustic lutherie or the philosophy of music education.

More information:
Alejandro Olarte

More about music technology studies at the University of the Arts Helsinki
More about doctoral studies at the Sibelius Academy, Uniarts Helsinki