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Con­tem­por­ary Music Per­form­ance Prac­tice (1950 — up to date)

Performance is central to this course, in which students work on contemporary music repertoire for their own instrument and ensembles. They explore their instruments in new ways through many different combinations of theory and practice.

The course focuses on the rehearsal and knowledge of central repertoire, and knowledge of various aesthetic, cultural, social and political trends within contemporary music. The course gives the student a toolbox to meet contemporary music.

The course, which is also an elective for NMH's students, leads up to a final concert.

Learning objectives

Upon completion of the course, the student is expected to

  • be able to study and interpret contemporary music independently and creatively
  • have knowledge of repertoire from the relevant time period
  • have knowledge of the historical lines within contemporary music from the dissolution of tonality to the present day - based on the repertoire for their own instrument
  • have insight into new ways of notation, new instrumental techniques, electronics as an extension of the instrument, as well as aesthetic, compositional and dramaturgical perspectives on music
  • have insight into co-creative processes within improvisation and composition


The subject is divided into four areas:

  1. Main instrument
  2. Ensembles
  3. Practice methodology
  4. Perspectives

1. Main instrument

  • Rehearsal of contemporary music for own instrument (solo or small ensembles) from approx. 1950 to the present day
  • Performance practice and familiarity with key performers and composers
  • Development of own artistic practice and direction
  • Different forms of notation and open form
  • Exploration and instrument technical understanding of sonorous and playing technique possibilities
  • Introduction to the use of computer programs for study and practice

2. Ensembles

  • Chamber music groups are formed based on the available instruments among the students. The students will also collaborate with composition students on commissioning works and rehearsing them.
  • Students who wish to do so can participate in NMH's Sinfonietta projects if this coincides with crew requirements.

3. Practice methods

  • Prima vista and practice of advanced rhythms
  • Listening and aural development through repertoire knowledge
  • Intonation and microtonality

4. Perspectives

Works from the students' repertoire, and/or central works in the history of music are illuminated through different perspectives - interpretative, aesthetic, historical, analytical and dramaturgical. In addition, there is an introduction to electronic sound processing.

  • Program selection, performance strategies, choice of communication media
  • The collaborative process between composer and performer
  • Biographical/historical/analytical studies about the works and composers
  • Different types of notation in contemporary music
  • The co-creating performer: Improvisation as a method and an aesthetic means
  • Use of music technology in performance
  • Electronic sound processing
  • The expression and aesthetics of other art forms in the period


A team of teachers is responsible for the teaching, and the subject is organized with 2.5 hours of teaching per week over one academic year. In addition, there is supervision in chamber music as well as individual supervision on the instrument, which is agreed directly with the respective supervisor. If more students have the same main instrument or form a permanent chamber group, the teaching can be organized as seminars/class teaching. Resources for individual work with the main instrument: four times 45 minutes during the teaching period.

Work requirements

  1. Attendance and active participation is mandatory. This means that more than 20 per cent non-attendance will normally cause the student to fail the course.
  2. The student must participate in at least one project with a chamber music group.
  3. The student must participate in one concert at the end of the course (solo and/or chamber music).
  4. During the academic year, the student must submit three assignments of approx. 500 words each around current works and composers.
  5. The student must submit a reflection paper containing an overview of the reviewed repertoire as well as reflections on their own work and development. 1,200 to 1,600 words (three to four pages).
  6. The student must submit a repertoire list consisting of solo works for their own instrument showing their knowledge of the core repertoire of contemporary music.

Final assessment

All course requirements must be met before the student can be given a final assessment.

The assessment is based on the learning objectives for the course. The course is assessed on a pass or fail basis by the course tutor in the form of an individual evaluation of the student’s level of attainment.

New assessment

For new assessment, the same procedures applies.

Published: Mar 6, 2023 — Last updated: Mar 14, 2024