Master Thesis at Norwegian Academy of Music:
“Improvisation, Nature, Japan, and Performance—An Autoethnographic Artistic Research”
In this research project, the values and practices of improvisation and performance are discussed in connection with three different perspectives: (1) a particular musical method developed by a Norwegian vocalist, composer, and improviser Sidsel Endresen; (2) musical practice based on the explorations and observations of the physical body, as well as the phenomena in nature; (3) Japanese culture, traditional music, and their relationship with nature. This artistic research unfolds through the cyclic process between practice, reflection, discussion, and realization, employing the method of autoethnography to explore how the methodological, cultural, and personal perspectives can meet and complement each other to clarify my artistic values, as well as to foster my artistic practice further. In the thesis, while investigating the understanding of the term improvisation and nature, three different musical points of view—time, timbre, and interplay—are discussed and explored in connection with performance seen as ritual, with audio and video documentations of both practice and performance. Numerous examples are brought into the discussion, such as with the writings of Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu, and American cultural ecologist and philosopher David Abram, among other Japanese and Western musicologists and philosophers. Different traditional Japanese arts, musics, and histories, as well as other cultural examples from around the world, are related in order to find the way of integration between music, nature, performance, and the writer’s Japanese cultural background.