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Kristin Kjølberg: Art songs in artistic rooms

The study investigates concert dramaturgy and communication skills in the song recital.

Field of study: Performance Practice


The main topic of this dissertation is concert dramaturgy, and the aim of the research project has been to develop theory of the different aspects of singers´ performance in the song recital. Concert dramaturgy is a category within the wider field 'musikkformidling'. The Scandinavian term 'musikkformidling' cannot be precisely translated into English. It is about music communication in the service of different concepts and is in the dissertation divided into three aspects. The first aspect is related to the musician’s interpretation and performance of a piece of music. The second concerns presentations of musical works, ideas or practices through representational media such as recordings, written texts, verbally or through digital media. The third aspect, concert dramaturgy will often consist of elements from the two other categories. Thus, concert dramaturgy encompasses artistic, rhetorical and communicative aspects of the concert. In order to facilitate the aesthetic experience for the listener, a musician or a concert dramaturge will work with staging, paratexts and contexts, as well as the dramaturgical form of the concert. Further, the performers' appearance in the concert is of great importance for the performance. The rhetorical phase actio is transferable to the performers' appearance due to the performance of the composition, verbal and nonverbal communication, and the performers' presence and charisma on the stage. Concert dramaturgy is also about the communication between the performers and the audience. Christopher Smalls concept of musicking and Hans Georg Gadamers term play has influenced how researchers look upon the classical concert in general and the song recital in particular.

The dissertation presents a practice-based research project in music, and the empirical material is developed through the methodological framework of action research. The researcher, also being a classical singer, has performed three staged song recitals: “Alma Mahler, muse, femme fatale and composer” with art songs by Viennese composers from the period 1900-1930, “Last night at half past nine he seemed O.K.”, including cabaret songs, and “Das war der Tag der weißen Chrysanthemen” with art songs by Berg, Schönberg, Webern and Zemlinsky.

By moving back and forth between the positions as a researcher and a singer, theories related to concert dramaturgy has been developed in dialogues between the empirical material derived through planning, acting, observing, analyzing and reflecting on the one hand, and theories from communication theory, rhetoric, and theory from fine art and theatre on the other.

The dissertation

Title (translated from Norwegian): Art songs in artistic rooms. Concert dramaturgy and communication skills in the song recital.

The dissertation comprises a monograph and a CD. The dissertation is written in Norwegian.

The complete dissertation (CD included) is available from NMH's library. The text is available in NMH's digital archive Brage.

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Published: Jan 10, 2017 — Last updated: Feb 21, 2024