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Introducing Artistic Research to Georgia

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Abstract

Artistic research researches the creative process resulting into an art work. It shares the aim of any scientific research, contributing to accumulation of knowledge in a given field, though it frees a researcher from excessive formalities (such as obligatory research outcomes stated in a written form – this function could be taken over by a piece of art), building the knowledge upon the practice. The notion of artistic research is a relatively new one. However, it has already been implemented at the academic level in several countries. Artistic research has never been conducted in the Republic of Georgia. Though, Tbilisi State Conservatoire offers to performers and composers’ special doctoral programs that give doctoral students opportunities to examine issues related to performance and composition practice, based on theoretical and practical knowledge. The dissertations written in the framework of the programs to some extent relate to artistic research, though, they differ from artistic research in various aspects. The paper aims to reveal similarities and differences between those research forms and to present a research project Development of Artistic Research Methodology on the Example of Exploration of the Piano of the 21st Century and its Future Perspectives. The project aims to enrich the given doctoral programs with elements of artistic research and later to contribute to implementation of artistic research on the academic level in Georgia. This experience could be taken into consideration by other countries that are on the way of implementing artistic research in their educational systems.
European Journal of Behavioral Sciences
ISSN 2538-807X
______________________________
Corresponding author E-mail address: nino.jvania@tsc.edu.ge
© The Author(s). 2020 Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Introducing Artistic Research to Georgia
Nino Jvania* and Tamar Zhvania
Vano Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatoire, Tbilisi, Georgia
ARTICLE INFO
ABSTRACT
Keywords:
Artistic Research
Music Education
Piano
Piano Music
Research
Artistic research researches the creative process resulting into an art work. It
shares the aim of any scientific research, contributing to accumulation of
knowledge in a given field, though it frees a researcher from excessive
formalities (such as obligatory research outcomes stated in a written form
this function could be taken over by a piece of art), building the knowledge
upon the practice. The notion of artistic research is a relatively new one.
However, it has already been implemented at the academic level in several
countries. Artistic research has never been conducted in the Republic of
Georgia. Though, Tbilisi State Conservatoire offers to performers and
composers’ special doctoral programs that give doctoral students
opportunities to examine issues related to performance and composition
practice, based on theoretical and practical knowledge. The dissertations
written in the framework of the programs to some extent relate to artistic
research, though, they differ from artistic research in various aspects. The
paper aims to reveal similarities and differences between those research
forms and to present a research project Development of Artistic Research
Methodology on the Example of Exploration of the Piano of the 21st Century
and its Future Perspectives. The project aims to enrich the given doctoral
programs with elements of artistic research and later to contribute to
implementation of artistic research on the academic level in Georgia. This
experience could be taken into consideration by other countries that are on
the way of implementing artistic research in their educational systems.
1. Introduction
The notion of artistic research is relatively new one. Not only its forms and principles, but even
the definition is a subject of ongoing discussions
1
. According to one of the worldwide accepted
(but not yet firmly established) definition, artistic research is concentrated on the creative
process resulting into an art work. It studies the ideas inspiring artists to create a piece of art.
Artistic research shares the aim of any scientific research, contributing to accumulation of
knowledge in a given field, though, it frees a researcher from excessive formalities such as
obligatory research outcomes stated in a written form this function could be taken over by a
piece of art through which the knowledge is built upon the practice.
Despite its young age, the artistic research has already been implemented at the academic level
in several countries and it became equal of the scientific one. Republic of Georgia is not in the
list of those countries. Though, it's worth mentioning that since 2011, Vano Sarajishvili Tbilisi
State Conservatoire - the main institution of higher education in music in Georgia - offers to
performers and composers special doctoral programs Performing Arts and Composition that give
doctoral students the opportunity to examine issues related to performance and composition
1
Nino Jvania herself participated in one of those discussions regarding the definition of artistic research, held in
the framework of the AEC European Platform for Artistic Research in Music (EPARM) in 2015 in Graz,
Austria.
European Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 2(4):31-37, 2019
32
practice, based on theoretical and practical knowledge. The dissertations written in the
framework of these programs to some extent relate to artistic research, though, they are
conducted under different conditions. What are the similarities and differences between those
research forms? Could the elements of artistic research be used to enrich the doctoral programs
mentioned above?
1.1. About Artistic Research
Despite the fact that artistic research is a recent phenomenon, it is rooted in the history of artistic
practice. Any piece of art could be considered as a result of a research conducted by an artist.
Though, artistic research has developed into separate research form with its specific features
determining its essence and one has to acknowledge that. It is conducted by artist-researchers
who are willing to make statements about the process of creating art, about thoughts, concepts,
ideas that their art is based upon.
Here, the researcher works as an insider, as a participant in the practice, as one of its
embodiments, so to speak. But that is not all. In the practice itself, one also takes a step of
minimal distance toward the practice, reflecting on it and on one’s acts (Hannula et al., 2014, p.
16).
Artistic research methodology is in the process of development. For example, it is still
questionable whether it should be bound to a word to a written work. Though, it is a fact that
the alternative to the scientific research, it contributes to development of the field. Johan
Verbeke (2013) states that
The arts, design and architecture are not involved in an exact logical understanding of our
world (as are the exact sciences), but they complement this with a knowledge field which
builds on human experience and behaviour and is interwoven with cultural and societal
development. As with any other discipline, the arts, design and architecture build on their
own specific positions in relation to reality. Additionally, they contribute to projecting into
the future and are an important part of culture (p. 123).
It is because of this special importance and role that artistic research has already been
implemented at the academic level in several countries.
1.1.1. Artistic Research in Music and Georgia
There has been no precedent for conducting artistic research in the field of music in Republic of
Georgia. The authors of the present paper, pianists Nino Jvania and Tamar Zhvania together
with a composer Eka Chabashvili conduct the very first artistic research in Georgia - The Piano
of the 21st Century and its Future Perspectives. It comprises the analysis of development of the
instrument in the 20th and 21st centuries in the context of historical development of academic
music of the same period, as well as experiments with piano, aiming at finding new methods of
sound-production and some ways of modification/transformation of piano. However, artistic
research is not officially recognized research form by the state and the aim of the given project is
to contribute to popularization of artistic research in Georgia, preparing future successful
implementation of artistic research in the county. The research will serve as a Case Study which
will support this process.
Though, as we already mentioned, Tbilisi State Conservatoire offers to performers and
composers special doctoral programs Performing Arts and Composition that give doctoral
students the opportunity to examine issues related to performance and composition practice
2
.
2
The doctoral programs Performing Arts and Composition grant the academic degree of Doctor of Musical Arts,
while the doctoral program Musicological Researches grants the academic degree of Doctor of Art Criticism
that is equivalent of PhD. (V. Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatoire, n.d.). The same degrees are granted by
similar doctoral programs at several other universities in Georgia.
European Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 2(4):31-37, 2019
33
The doctoral dissertations defended in the framework of those programs are to some extant
related to artistic research, though they don’t represent this particular research form.
Table 1.
List of dissertations defended in 2011-2019 at Vano Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatoire
Name, Surname
Thesis Title
Year
Ana Mamisashvili
The 20th-century solo violin sonata
(Aspects of theory and performance)
2019
Medea
Kavtaradze
Performing difficulties of the a cappella choral cycles by
Sulkhan Nasidze (on the examples of “PLEA” and FROM
THE PERSIAN POETRY”)
2018
Levan Gomelauri
The application methods of the verbal text as a part of the
composition techniques in the works of contemporary
Georgian composers (R. Kiknadze, L. Gomelauri, M.
Virsaladze, E. Chabashvili)
2016
Mariana Asrieva
Some aspects of the baroque violin performance technique
2014
Levan Bagration-
Davitashvili
The functions and methods of usage of percussive
instruments in works by Georgian composers (1960 - till
present)
2014
Zaira
Vadachkoria
Issues of Interpretation of choral works by Joseph
Kechakmadze
2012
Tamar Zhvania
Three-part inventions by J.S. Bach: issues of interpretation
2012
Natalia
Volchenko
Vocal methods by David Andghuladze: a defense
mechanism of phonetic apparatus
2012
Mamuka
Sikharulidze
Piano etudes by F. Chopin: issues of interpretation
2012
Irina Aivazova
The vocal cycle by Mussorgsky Songs and Dances of
Death (some aspects of theory and performance practice)
2012
Natia Azarashvili
Place and role of Kindertotenlieder in Mahler's work in
relation to performative tasks of an accompanist.
2012
Ketevan Eliava
Problems of chamber vocal performance and vocal works
by Hugo Wolf
2012
Nino Kasradze
Problems of sound-production in piano music of the 20th
century on the example of work by O. Messiaen,
2012
Maya (Maka)
Virsaladze
Aleatoric techniques in contemporary Georgian professional
music (on the example of works by N. Mamisashvili, R.
Kiknadze and E. Chabashvili)
2011
Eka Chabashvili
On the concept of multi-topophonic composition technique
2011
Source: http://www.tsc.edu.ge/index.php?m=535&lng=geo
Even the titles imply that the majority of dissertations relate to a certain extent to artistic
research, representing mostly results of the research of the artistic practices. Despite the fact that
they imitate musicological researches, copying particular academic stereotypes, the topics of
dissertations imply participation of the researchers in the practice as an insider. Paraphrasing
Jonathan Impett (2017), within doctoral programs mentioned above, performers and composers
mostly conduct research through making music and not about making music (p. 11).
European Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 2(4):31-37, 2019
34
Participation in practice is represented also by another obligatory part of the doctoral programs:
performers have to perform certain works at concerts, composers - to compose works of certain
genres. However, neither concerts nor works have to be related to dissertations.
3
The so called
"artistic" parts of doctoral programs just continue corresponding master’s programs, only
complicating requirements. Doctoral students specializing in solo piano, for instance, have to
study a particular piano repertoire and to present it at concerts; and this repertoire does not have
to be related (and mostly is unrelated) to the topic of the dissertation. Though, the works
analyzed in their dissertations for the most part are represented in their repertoire. The same
could be said about other specialties.
In contrast, the artistic research programs at many European universities, first and foremost,
encourage artists to analyze the artistic practice of their own, and present conclusions in form
of art. Consequently, there are researches in the field of music that result in compositions,
audio and video recordings, concert series, lecture courses, with different types of a written
report being only a part of research results. This research form seems to be much more useful
for the majority of practicing musicians.
That is why, Nino Jvania, Eka Chabashvili and Tamar Zhvania conduct a project
Development of Artistic Research Methodology on the Example of Exploration of the Piano
of the 21st Century and its Future Perspectives that aims to enrich the doctoral programs
mentioned above with elements of artistic research.
The project comprises two related parts:
1. The study of artistic research methodology, participation in its development;
2. Artistic research The Piano of the 21st Century and its Future Perspectives which will
serve as Case Study for the future implementation of a new research form in Georgia. It
consists of several components:
Scientific (musicological) research - The development of the expressive abilities of the
piano in the context of development of academic music in the 20th and 21st centuries;
Research of expressive abilities of piano; experiments with instrument;
Composition of a large-scale piano piece, based on the results of the research, its
performance and video-recording.
In the present paper we aim to present the central part of the project - the artistic research.
2. Artistic Research Piano of the 21st Century and its Future Perspectives
Piano music has come to an end and something quite different is coming. I sense it clearly:
with the claviers made up to this time, there is nothing new to discover anymore, Karlheinz
Stockhausen (1993) declared on October 24th 1992, at the auditorium of the Pädagogische
Hochschule in Weingarten (p. 138). It is difficult not to agree with the German composer
who still composed for piano before and after 1992. Though, the fact is that contemporary
composers more and more rarely engage themselves with piano, especially solo piano, and
the process started in the 2nd half of the 20th century.
Nino Jvania (2011) states that
The piano performance has always been associated with emotional expressiveness.
Owing to the specific character of its sound the piano has become a main instrument of
musical Romanticism. But the radical changes taking place in the aesthetics of New
Music set new challenges not only to performers but to the instrument itself, especially
to its sound (p. 47).
3
At Ilia State University, though, the students of PhD Program in Music are obliged to contextualize in their
dissertations/written comments works represented in the creative part of their doctoral portfolios (Ilia State
University, 2018, p. 3).
European Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 2(4):31-37, 2019
35
The piano and its sound represent a result of a reevaluation of the priorities taking place in
the 18th century art. Against the background of global subjectivization of art, as the inner life
of an individual a subject gradually became a central theme in art and in music
particularly, the spirit of the new epoch demanded rather spontaneous reflection of
emotions (Savshinsky, 1961, p. 179). The necessity to express flexible emotions created a
need for a new instrument producing more dynamic and flexible sound than a harpsichord
the leading keyboard instrument of the preceding era. As a result, the piano offered a wider
range of possibilities to the performer to interpret the score in a subjective manner that
emphasizes the subjective nature of the instrument. This nature was in a full accord with the
subjective expression of musical Romanticism, which, consequently, assigned a central
position to the piano throughout the 19th century (Jvania, 2011, p. 47).
However, the present epoch compels the pianists to deprive the piano sound of its immanent
feature, as it is this subjective nature that is out of accord with new priorities of the new age.
Here is one of the most important of those priorities - almost every important representative
of New Music talk about liberation of music from the individual, with his taste, emotions and
tendency to self-expression in whole, from the subjectiveness. “Time of exaggerated
emotions in music is over,” declared Karlheinz Stockhausen in a conversation with Nino
Jvania (N. Jvania, personal communication, January 20, 2006). John Cage, inspired by Zen
Buddhism, almost in each of his writings and lectures rejected the idea of music serving as
the primary means of self-expression of composers and interpreters. Christian Wolff
considers a concern for objectivity, almost anonymity as a basic one of New (Experimental)
Music:
“The ‘music’ is a resultant existing simply in the sounds we hear, given no impulse by
expression of self or personality. It is indifferent in motive, originating in no psychology
nor in dramatic intentions, nor in literary or pictorial purposes. For at least some of these
composers, then, the final intention is to be free of artistry and taste (Nymann, 1999, p.
30).
Of course, this is not the only factor that initiated the ongoing diminution of interest in piano.
This could be caused by quite radical reevaluation of the concept of musical sound (resulting
into integration of all kinds of sounds and noises in music) on one hand, and quite active
employment of technologies in music production and composition, on another hand. As a
result, to quote Stockhausen (1971), “timbre and timbre-oriented pieces gain in importance,
whereas monochrome pieces are almost ignored” (p. 348). The inability of piano to overcome
the restrictions of equal temperament makes it even less attractive for composers of the 21st
century.
It's worth mentioning that some composers of the 20th and 21st centuries enriched the sound
production abilities of piano, modifying the mechanism of the instrument as well as
performance technique. It is quite difficult to imagine what kind of innovations the acoustic
piano could present to listeners, even in case of employing electronic technologies. Has piano
music really come to an end? The question is quite topical nowadays, especially for lovers
and researchers of piano music. One of the best ways to answer it is to conduct the artistic
research.
Any unconventional form of employment of piano in music composition be it preparation,
intentional alteration of tuning, employment of different types of extended technique - could be
considered as a result of the process resembling artistic research. Comments, interviews and
texts by John Cage, Helmut Lachenmann, Karlheinz Stockhausen and some other contemporary
composers of great importance support this statement. The last piano cycle by Stockhausen
“Natural Durations”, for example, could be considered as a result of the artistic research aiming
to explore the nature of a piano sound. In an unpublished conversation with Nino Jvania
mentioned above he described some methods of his research for instance, measuring the
European Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 2(4):31-37, 2019
36
duration of the sounds characterized by the same parameters (pitch, intensity, attack) on
different types of piano. As a result, the 24 short pieces of the cycle have the initial concept of
letting the tempo and rhythms of the work be determined by how long notes sustain. Factors
such as pitch register, attack intensity and use of the sustain pedal also are considered. Thus, the
end result of the research is the piece of music that presents a new perspective on piano the
instrument of special historical importance that is regarded by the majority of contemporary
composers as almost the obsolete one. The same could be said about the prepared piano of John
Cage or the quarter-tone piano of Alois Hába.
The artistic research Piano of the 21st Century and its Future Perspectives is conducted by
the composer and two pianists who intentionally co-work to create a piece of art based on the
research. The artistic research consists of the historical analysis of development of the
instrument in the context of development of academic music, as well as experiments that aim
at finding new methods of sound production and ways of transforming/modifying piano. The
research will result into a large-scale piano piece/performance composed by Eka Chabashvili
(in cooperation with Nino Jvania and Tamar Zhvania) for two pianos, one transformed piano
and the virtual piano orchestra (realized with the help of video-installations and live video
broadcastings via social networks). Interestingly, the artistic researchers intend to engage
only with acoustic pianos, avoiding any employment of technologies (except of
amplification) to modify the piano sound.
The piece reflects on one hand the evolution of the instrument through the centuries (this
evolution will be described in a book accompanying the piece), and on the other hand the
experiments conducted by the artistic researchers. The basic layer of the work is the sound of
the 21st century piano, while the other layers consist of allusions of various historical periods
and styles related to the history of piano music - starting from 1732 when an Italian composer
Lodovico Giustini composed the very first pieces - 12 Sonate de cimbalo di piano e forte
exclusively for a new instrument piano. The artistic researchers aim to display the panorama
of the piano music from the perspective of the contemporary epoch. The important part of the
piece is an interaction with listeners - it is planned to engage them in the performance.
Thus, the research will result into a piece of art/music and not (only) in a theoretical work.
The whole process will serve as a Case Study for the future implementation of a new research
form in Georgia.
3. Conclusion
The most important long-term aim of the project participants is to establish the Artistic
Research Program on institutional level at Tbilisi State Conservatoire. The establishment of
the program will provide young musicians with a new opportunity to reveal their artistic
potential, contributing at the same time to development of composition and performance
schools in Georgia. It is obvious that it will take time to implement this idea, but the first step
could be enrichment of doctoral programs with the elements of artistic research. For instance,
combining the artistic and scientific parts, making it obligatory to relate them with each other
could bring the doctoral programs closer to the essence of artistic research. Besides, this
could serve as an example for young researchers not only at Vano Sarajishvili Tbilisi State
Conservatoire but other institutions of higher education in art and music in Georgia.
The establishment of Artistic Research Program in artistic educational system of Georgia
generally will contribute to integration of intellectual potential of Georgia into international
system of cultural values. We do believe it is necessary to share this experience with other
countries worldwide that are on the way of implementing artistic research in their educational
systems.
European Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 2(4):31-37, 2019
37
Acknowledgments
This paper is an output of the research project Development of Artistic Research Methodology
on the Example of Exploration of the Piano of the 21st Century and its Future Perspectives.
The project, as well as this work is supported by Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation
of Georgia (SRNSFG) [grant number FR-18-4275].
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ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
Full-text available
It is hard to disagree with Mark Twain, insisting that all generalizations are false, including this one. Nevertheless, it is generalizations that help one to perceive if not the essence, then at least the nature of any phenomenon. Despite the vulnerability of generalizations, the present paper aims to contribute towards a better understanding of some fundamental principles of the contemporary (new) piano performance by means of chains of generalizations. Against the background of a general historical analysis of piano performance, the paper considers some topical aspects of modern musical language, philosophy and aesthetics that influence contemporary piano performance.
Pianist i ego rabota
  • S Savshinsky
Savshinsky, S. (1961). Pianist i ego rabota [The pianist and his work].
Tbilisi State Conservatoire. (n.d.). PhD Programs
  • V Sarajishvili
V. Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatoire. (n.d.). PhD Programs. Retrieved July 10, 2020, from http://www.tsc.edu.ge/index.php?m=567&lng=geo
The Intrinsic Value of Artistic Research
  • J Verbeke
Verbeke, J. (2013). The Intrinsic Value of Artistic Research. In M. Wilson & S. van Ruiten (Eds.), SHARE Handbook of Artistic Research Education (pp. 123-125). Valand Academy.