Masters Profile: Classical performers

In an interview in August 2000, Pierre Boulez said:

“If the rhythms and phrasing that are peculiar to contemporary music would be taught in the best conservatories in an intensive way, the future of contemporary music would certainly change and performers and general public would really start enjoying pieces by Berio, Xenakis or myself. The lack of accuracy in orchestras is the biggest obstacle for communication between composers and public”.

As mentioned in the introduction, the programme for classical performers addresses the problems that may arise in many contemporary music pieces from Stravinsky, Bela-Bartok or Varesse to Xenakis, Boulez, Elliot Carter, Ferneyhough or Ligeti, as well as more recent composers. The main objective is to provide rhythmic tools that will help the student  achieve a higher degree of accuracy and confidence. South Indian classical music not only makes use of one of the most complex rhythmical systems but, in addition, has very clear and practical teaching and exercise methods.

The masters profile will be comprised of the following elements:

  • Following the so-called ‘Reading Ensemble’ each year.
  • Individual coaching in order to prepare 3 pieces of contemporary music (between October and March) and for the performance in mid-June of pieces with a duration of, at least, 20 minutes. How to use Karnatic techniques to perform contemporary pieces and to work out a general methodology for the student to apply to a wide variety of pieces are the ultimate goals of this coaching.
  • Attendance to bi-weekly sessions where the ‘roots’ of the material, as well as what other creators have done or are doing with Karnatic rhythmical concepts, will be listened to and analysed within a musical context.
  • Alternatively, the student could also choose to follow an Improvisation ensemble. In this case, a smaller number of contemporary pieces could be worked out, and some coaching time could be used to work on improvisational aspects.

The student will be awarded with 30 credits as part of the main subject (15 credits per year).

Structure of credits distribution in the classical department:
-Main subject               50 credits
-Masters profile            30 credits
-Masters elective          20 credits
-Research/thesis          10 credits
-Individual credits         10 credits

Therefore, students specialising in ‘Karnatic rhythm in western music’ are not exclusively taking courses on this subject, but they are quite free to also choose other subjects of their liking.

All pieces prepared in these two years can be used for the MA1 exam as well as the graduation recital.