Marcio Steuernagel

10 October 2020

ARTikulationen 2020

Senses of musical imperfections in “The Great in-Betweenness” for solo flute

  • Imperfection
  • Composition
  • Performance Practice
  • Aesthetics
  • Artistic Research

with Eric Lamb (Flute)

The question of “what is musical imperfection” or “what can musical imperfection be” is an elusive one. As a morphologically negative word, the meaning of “imperfection” shifts according to the different possible connotations of “perfection”, which also change according to usage and context. Taken as a determinate concept, “perfection” has lost the centrality it once held in aesthetics and philosophy of music, especially in 18th Century discourse. But a word operates in many layers, not all of them dependent on conceptualization. In everyday music making, perfectionist reminiscences continue to operate – and musical imperfections, to emerge and act.

The task of advancing comprehension of imperfection in music as a fundamental compositional and performative dimension, therefore, is a task especially suited for Artistic Research: these senses are best pursued, discerned and elucidated in the process of music making. Accordingly, in this concert-lecture, I explore a few selected strong senses of musical imperfection in a new research composition for flute. In doing so, I advance comprehension of these senses by looking at examples from the creative process, including both composition and documented working sessions with the performer. This case study sheds light on the bridge that bypasses the (arguably artificial) gap between theory and practice – between conceptual reflexion and artistic creation. The centrality of artistic practice is further highlighted by including the première of the full cycle “The Great in-Betweenness: six études and three melodies for solo flute”, performed by Eric Lamb.

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