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Call For Papers

Symposium Composition & Research
13.-15. March 2023
Gustav Mahler Privat University of Music Klagenfurt, Austria

Composition has a long tradition of critical reflection on its own artistic practice and a self-perception that sees research as part of compositional processes: be it the search for new sound possibilities and forms, the deconstruction and reconstruction of instruments, the use of new technologies, phenomenological investigations of musical events or the compositional exploration of natural processes.

The fact that this composition-immanent exploratory approach does not arise from artistic curiosity alone, but feels the urge to contribute to the further development of music, is shown by numerous attempts to articulate verbally and in writing and also to theorize new insights gained from composition. The book series published by Bärenreiter on the technical possibilities of various instruments, for example, presents results that have been gained not only from compositional practice but also from the collaboration of composers and performers in a laboratory-like setting. In the sense of an experimental approach and the Beckettian maxim Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. failure—a genuinely artistic category—is an essential category here. There are various examples of theorization: Rameau's Traité de l'harmonie is representative.


Increasingly, however, a position is being advocated that questions or even emphatically negates the research character of composition. In his article composition is not research, John Croft argues that research in the field of composition is artificially constructed in order to continue to legitimize the subject of composition academically and to secure project funding. In an academic research environment, the autonomy of art is no longer given. His conclusion: art and research are two fundamentally different fields.


Many questions arise in this discussion: How is a compositional concept of research to be interpreted? Where in the composition process does research take place? On which levels? What is being researched? What are the perspectives and potentials of a research-immanent understanding of composition? What can be gained for the composition process through autoethnography? What do developments in the field of artistic research mean for the subject of composition?


The topic of Composition & Research allows for a multi-perspective approach. In this three-day symposium, the possibilities and potentials of research in the field of composition in the second decade of the 21st century will be discussed. The topicality of the subject in the international scene is undisputed, particularly with regard to the developments and discussions in the field of artistic research and the implementation of doctoral programmes at German-speaking music universities, which could cause a structural change in the subject of composition that would be existential. 




Three keynotes will be given:

1)     Prof. Dr. Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf (HMT Leipzig)
Was heißt künstlerische Forschung und was heißt künstlerische Forschung?

2)     Alberto Posadas (Madrid)
Redefinition and hybridization through an archaeological approach.

3)     Dr. Pia Palme (Vienna)
On composition as ecology. A posthuman tractate.


The abstracts of the lectures and information on the speakers can be found under programme.


Composers, performers, artistic researchers, musicologists and music philosophers are invited to submit proposals on topics related to composition & research.


Topics could be:

-Presentation of one's own compositional practice with inherent research character

-The relationship between composition and research in history, present and future

-Composition methods and techniques

-Composition and theory formation

-Sound research

-Computer-aided composition, electronic and electro-acoustic composition, new technologies, artificial intelligence, hybrid forms

-Composition and research in a transdisciplinary context

-Field research and autoethnography

-Rehearsals as sites of compositional research

-Interaction between performers and composers as research processes


-Composition and truth research

-Impacts of artistic research as a discipline on the understanding and self-perception of composition and education at conservatoires/universities of music

-Theories and methods of practice-as-research, practice-based research and artistic research in relation to composition



The following formats can be submitted until 10 October 2022:

-Papers (20 minutes + 10 minutes discussion)

-Lecture Recitals (up to 30 minutes)

-Impulse Lectures (10 minutes + 20 minutes discussion)

-Panels with 3-4 papers (90 to 120 minutes)

-Discussion panels with 3-4 participants (45-90 minutes)


Interested applicants should send an abstract (max. 300 words and 5 keywords), a short biography (max. 100 words) and contact details to Confirmation of receipt will be sent. Presentations can be given in German or English.


The selection by the international committee will take place in November. All applicants will then be notified.


A publication with selected papers is planned for the end of 2023 by Wolke Verlag.

Univ. Prof. Dr. Hakan Ulus ( will be available for questions.


We are looking forward to your submission!




Review Committee:

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Gratzer (University Mozarteum Salzburg)

Prof. Jakob Gruchmann (GMPU Klagenfurt)

Ass.-Prof. Dr. Michelle Lou (UC San Diego)

Prof. Dr. Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf (HMT Leipzig)

Dr. Pia Palme (Vienna)

Univ. Prof. Dr. Hakan Ulus (GMPU Klagenfurt)





Prof. Jakob Gruchmann (Vice Rector and Professor of Composition)

Christoph Suttner (student assistant)

Univ. Prof. Dr. Hakan Ulus (Professor of Composition)

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