Wide-ranging music research
Darla Crispin, from Canada, has been employed at the Norwegian Academy of Music since 2015, first as Director of the Arne Nordheim Centre for Artistic Research and since last year also as Vice-Principal for Research and Artistic Development.
“I believe that research also impacts on social qualities which the Academy wants to promote, like flexibility and openness, dialogue, equal opportunities and diversity. All this can be achieved by adopting an exploratory approach, a view that doesn’t take things for granted but causes us to keep asking questions and basically be inquisitive about our own work and what that work means in a wider social context.”
Does the Academy have guidelines for the kinds of areas that should be researched?
“We have an idealistic view of research and have no desire to exclude anything which may be of interest or relevance to the institution. But the Academy has three research centres and a centre for music performance education, and each of these centres focuses on certain fields.
“We also conduct important work within more established music science, so we’re trying to develop expertise in broad areas and have an open view of what people want to work on.”
Effect of technology
Musical life and society change rapidly. What new questions and new fields will be important for research at the Academy in future?
“Something we’ll increasingly be getting into is the growing effect technology is having on our lives. The view of what music is; contemporary composition music and performance in particular are in flux, not least because of technology. The roles of musician and composer are increasingly drifting and merging, and we need to train musicians who are set to venture out into this new world.
“The art of the past doesn’t stand still, either. It has a life because it lives through us in the work we do on it, whether performing it, listening to it or trying to comprehend it. So it’s important to make space for both canonical art and modern art. Not in opposition to each other, but as expressions in a continuum.
“Another important area applies to the representation of minority groups, be it women or people from various ethnic groups or nationalities. We’re going to be focused on who, but also what, we include, and what bearing it has on research and the educational establishments generally. That leads to issues of social accountability, which is also one of the reasons for research being so important.”
Will the research work you carry out at the Academy be able to influence the design of the study courses on offer?
“Yes, that’s one of the missions the research has, asking questions about what may need changing and what it’s important to hang on to, even though it seems to run contrary to changes outside of the institution. For a top educational establishment like the Academy it’s absolutely necessary to ask these questions in order to ensure that the institution remains relevant in future.
“As researchers we also have a global responsibility. We’re not just responsible to the establishment, or just to Oslo and Norway, although we do have a particular responsibility towards Norway in much of our research, which has to be about the Norwegian musical heritage. But we’re also responsible for taking the knowledge we have out into the world at large.”
Why such a responsibility?
“One of the things that imparts meaning to the research is that we can have a discourse about it, a dialogue. The stronger the dialogue with others, not just internally but also externally, the greater the chance of significant development. Communication and dialogue are the way research comes into its own. That’s why it’s important for us to go out into the world with our research.”