Logic of Experimentation

Reshaping Music Performance in and through Artistic Research

Paulo de Assis

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Beyond interpretation: a proposal for experimental performance practices

Logic of Experimentation offers several innovative and ground-breaking perspectives on music performance, music ontology, research methodologies and ethics of performance. It proposes new modes of thinking and exposing past musical works to contemporary audiences, arguing for a new kind of performer, emancipated from authoritative texts and traditions, whose creativity is propelled by intensive research and inventive imagination. Moving beyond the work-concept, Logic of Experimentation presents a new image of musical works, based upon the notions of strata, assemblage and diagram, advancing innovative practice-based methodologies that integrate archival and musicological research into the creative process leading to a performance. Beyond representational modes of performance—be it mainstream or historically informed performance practices—Logic of Experimentation creates an ontological, methodological and ethical space for experimental performance practices, arguing for a new mode of performance. Written in an experimental style, its eight chapters appropriate music performance concepts from post-structural philosophy, psychoanalysis, science and technology studies, epistemology and semiotics, displaying how transdisciplinarity is central to artistic research. An indispensable contribution to artistic research in music, Logic of Experimentation is compelling reading for music performers, composers, musicologists, philosophers and artist researchers alike.

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Preface: A Transdisciplinary Conjuncture

Introduction: Experimentation versus Interpretation


Part 1. Assemblage Theory for Music


Chapter 1: Virtual Works—Actual Things

Rasch — The limits of music philosophy and the role of artistic

research — Music ontologies: some problems — Beyond

transcendence: approaching a Deleuzian ontology — Virtual

works, actual things: towards a new image of musical work —

Strata — Rasch25: . . . vers la nuit


Chapter 2: Assemblage, Strata, Diagram

Musical works as assemblages — Agencement, logic of assemblage,

assemblage theory — Intermezzo: a note on translation —

From structure to assemblage — Strata — Diagram — Logic of



Part 2: Experimental Systems in Music


Chapter 3: Experimental Systems and Artistic Research

An epistemology for artistic research? — A methodology for

artistic research — Hans-Jörg Rheinberger’s experimental systems

— Thought collective and ensembles of experimental systems:

MusicExperiment21 — Series of experiments and modules of



Chapter 4: Epistemic Complexity in Music Performance

Complexity and epistemic complexity — Epistemic complexity

in biology — Epistemic complexity in technology — Epistemic

complexity in music — Experimentation in music performance:

how to make the future?


Part 3. Beyond Interpretation: Bodies-in-Action


Chapter 5: Transduction and the Body as a Transducer

Transduction in music performance: relaying f lows of intensities;

— Gilbert Simondon’s various definitions of transduction —

Discharge (potentiality); — Passage (time and temporality);

— Energy (thermodynamics): potential, scales, entropy

— Information theory: structural germs and singularities

(structuration) — Haecceity: from haecceitas (Duns Scotus) to

eccéité (Simondon) to heccéité (Deleuze and Guattari) to microhaecceity

— Topology: in-formation — Corporeality: somatic

transduction — Permanent transduction: being-in-the-world and

fluctuatio animi; 11. Conclusion


Chapter 6: Rasch26: The Somatheme

The somatheme — Roland Barthes at the piano: musica practica

The impact of Julia Kristeva: phenotext and genotext —

New musical concepts: geno-song, pheno-song, somatheme —

Intermezzo: fourteen somathemes — The impact of Jacques

Lacan: signifier and jouissance — Lacan’s desire — Situating the

somatheme within Lacan’s graphs of desire — Conclusion: artistic

research and transdisciplinarity


Part 4. A New Ethics of Performance


Chapter 7: The Emancipated Performer:

Musical Renderings and Power Relations

Music performance and power relations — The dominant image

of work and the problem of interpretation — The tacit authorities:

Deleuze’s “Postscript on the Societies of Control” — Nietzsche’s

three modes of relation to history: monumental, antiquarian,

critical — A new image of work — The emancipated performer


Chapter 8. . . . at the borders of time that surround our presence . . .

What is the contemporary? — Agamben’s contemporary: Barthes

reading Nietzsche — Nietzsche’s untimely: lost in translation —

. . . at the border of time that surrounds our presence . . . — Artistic

research as the carrier of the contemporary


Appendix 1: Beyond Urtext: A Dynamic Conception of Musical Editing

On notation and time — The urtext era — Urtext editions: an

epistemological obstacle — Critical editing of music and different

types of editions — Music editing and performance practice: a

dynamic conception


Appendix 2: The Conditions of Creation and the Haecceity of Musical Material: Philosophical-Aesthetic Convergences between Helmut Lachenmann and Gilles Deleuze

Helmut Lachenmann and Gilles Deleuze: an unconnected

connection — Helmut Lachenmann: toward an aestheticostructural

methodology — Helmut Lachenmann’s three “theses”

on composing — Gilles Deleuze’s diagnostic function of art, capture

of forces, and body without organs: first convergences with Helmut

Lachenmann — Helmut Lachenmann’s four conditions of the

musical material — Gilles Deleuze’s opinion, corporeity, fold, and

latitude: further convergences with Helmut Lachenmann — The

conditions of creation and the haecceity of musical material: a

philosophical-aesthetic Erewhon




Format: Monograph - free ebook - PDF

260 pages

10 black & white images

ISBN: 9789461662507

Publication: October 19, 2018

Series: Orpheus Institute Series

Languages: English

Download: http://library.oapen.org/handle/20.500.12657/28242

Paulo de Assis is artist researcher (pianist, composer, music philosopher) and research fellow at the Orpheus Institute.
This is a remarkable work, rich in ideas and provocative in its conclusions. Assis offers a transformative approach to music performance, which serves as a paradigmatic instance of artistic research. But he also provides the conceptual framework for a general ontology and epistemology of art, one that has implications well beyond the domain of music. This is a book that deserves the attention of researchers throughout the disciplines of the arts, humanities and social sciences.
Bogue, Ronald, jar-online.net. 19/12/2019. https://doi.org/10.22501/jarnet.0023
“Reading Logic of Experimentation is an intellectual adventure. The reader comes away with a much more flexible and more powerful context for engaging in performance as scholarship, corporeality, and the manifestation of energy.” - Neely Bruce, Wesleyan University, US

“This is an outstanding book in every way. It demarcates a new field—that of artistic research as an experimental activity—and then provides an original theoretical framework within which to relate the field to music. All the chapters address issues that transcend music and are of great import for aesthetics, ethics, epistemology, ontology, psychoanalytic theory, and cultural theory.” - Ronald Bogue, University of Georgia, US