Music as transformative practice

Project leader:
Torbjørn Eftestøl

Project period:
2016 –

Research centre:


Philosophy of music, Musicality

Fellowship project
Ph.D in Performance Practice

Music as transformative practice is a philosophical exploration of the potential for development, transformation and becoming that music harbour. 

Historically, both music and philosophy have been seen as part of a formative process that can lead to a transformation of the self. Torbjørn will attempt to re-actualize this perspective, and through it make a philosophical investigation of musical practice. The material used comes from music and philosophy in the romantic 19th and modern 20th Century. Music is seen in light of philosophical ideas of the time, with focus on Goethe´s ideas about cognition of organic living form and on Gilles Deleuze´s transcendental empiricism as a representative of the modern age. In this blend of philosophy and music, Torbjørn attempts to bring philosophical work close to actual experience, and simultaneously reflect musical practice as a cognitive and emotional transformation of consciousness. This attempt at an epistemological grounding of music as transformative practice leads over into a more experimental part of the thesis. In this second part, ideas from composers such as Olivier Messiaen and Giacinto Scelsi will be presented as methodical approaches for expanding listening to include what they (and Deleuze) describe as the interior vitality and force of sound. The thesis is not a discussion of concrete musical works or instrumental practices, but rather an attempt to open up a broader perspective on musical practice and experience. During 2018 the focus has been on developing the philosophical line from romanticism to modernity and to see Arnold Schönberg´s dodechaphony and Olivier Messiaen´s concept of dazzlement (éblouissement) in light of this. 

The project belongs to Centre of Excellence in Music Performance Education. 

Project leader

Torbjørn Eftestøl

Torbjørn Eftestøl

Research Fellow

Performance Practice

Last updated: 18. October 2016