My artistic doctoral project at DocMus, Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki

The public examination of my doctoral project was successfully held at the concert hall of the Sibelius Academy on November, 28th 2020.

 

The artistic part, the concert series: The female soprano within baroque repertoire

Doctoral thesisSjunga-i-världen – en fenomenologisk betraktelse över sångarens inre arbete (translation: Singing-in-the-world – a phenomenological view on the singer’s inner work)

 

My doctoral thesis can be downloaded in pdf here:

https://helda.helsinki.fi/handle/10138/321227

 

The concert series:

 

The aim of my concert series has been to study the role of the female soprano within baroque repertoire during the period 1600–1750. The repertoire in the concert series has been gathered from different communities and important female sopranos within Europe, for instance from Handel’s operatic world in London and Italian nun convents.

 

My concert series has shown that during the period 1600–1750 there has been important and well-known female singers and composers. Many of these have not been visible or even known within the western classical music canon. The music of for instance the nun composers has revealed itself as rich in affects as well as profoundly embodied from the female perspective of the song texts. It has also been evident that the music holds a high artistic standard. I suggest that the singers, whose repertoire I have performed in all five concerts, were vocally on a professional level. They were also well-known in their respective societies during their time. Also, female benefactors, such as Queen Christina of Sweden, were important in creating environments where female musicians could perform.

 

The close connection between text and music in combination with the high technical demands of the singers who sang this repertoire show that both the singers as well as the composers held a high standard as musicians. This can also be read in letters of the time discussing the singers’ accomplishments and important roles in society.

 

The full programs of all five concerts can be found in the appendix of my thesis (see the link above)! 

 

Abstract of the doctoral thesis:

 

In my DocMus thesis I have studied the singer’s inner work and what precedes the voice. In my research I have utilized my experience as a singer specialized in early music and the genre’s generally intimate concert and rehearsal atmosphere. Employing the triadic concept of body–breath–mind led me to study the singer’s inner work from each side of the triangle that forms this unit. In this process the triad’s cyclical identity appears. The three parts are inseparable from each other, although the unit can be studied from these three different angles. Experience texts from rehearsals and concerts have been mirrored against phenomenological theories. Through this method the practice-based body–breath–mind is linked to the theoretical singing-in-the-worldBody–breath–mind is the foundation for singing-in-the-world, a term developed from the phenomenological tradition of Heidegger’s being-in-the-world (in-der-Welt-sein), Merleau-Ponty’s being-toward-the-world (suis à) and in recent years Skôf’s and Berndtson’s breathing-in-the-world. The first two do not discuss breath as a factor in man’s communication with the environment, while Irigaray as well as Skôf and Berndtson do. For the singer breath is equally important as body and mind for understanding and performing music. 

From the semiotic chora (Plato, Kristeva) inspiration can awaken within the singer. With inspiration meaning (le sens, Nancy) is formed and can develop in the singer through inhalation. A tone can start after a short moment of stillness. The instrument has then received the starting tone and the diaphragm activates with a ”click” before the tone is struck. In the pre-phonatory preparation the instrument remains still for a short moment before a tonebody can be lit. The tonebody is shared with the environment and can in optimal circumstances appear within body–breath–mind when the singer is in and toward the room. 

Breath is the life force of the triad body–breath–mind. In the shared environment and air (Irigaray), the singer can create a wave movement of the intertwined expansion and contraction of the instrument. Breath includes everyone in the room which makes singing inclusive for everyone present. Mind’s role to singing-in-the-world correlates with how the singer exists in and toward the world, meaning can be shaped and how the tonebody can be created through touch. From the stillness of mind, the singer can experience concentration and create optimal conditions for presence and flow. 

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