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PhD Defence

The Polyphonic Touch

Wednesday 22 June 2016
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden

Public Defence and artistic presentation

On Wednesday 22 June 2016 docARTES researcher Andrew Wright will finish his PhD trajectory with the public defence of his thesis 'The Polyphonic Touch - Coarticulation and polyphonic expression in the performance of piano and organ music'.

The day before, on Tuesday 21 June 2016, he will present the artistic outcomes of his research project in the form of two lecture-recitals at the Grote Kerk in The Hague (organ) and the Koningkerk in Voorburg (piano).

Short Description of the PhD research

Different performances of the same work can communicate more or less polyphony through the employment of expressive divergence. Rather than being a purely cerebral experience, this expressive divergence is situated in an ecological relationship between keyboard and player where the gestural dynamics of technique and musicianship overlap. Specific body schemata relating to expressive divergence are therefore foundational to the interpretive freedom of the performer in creating polyphonic expression and feature transparently in the musical result.

This dissertation theorises expressive divergence by examining the embodiment of single voices through the hierarchical structuring of coarticulation, and by showing how these multi-layered gestures combine in the polyphony of expression. This performative view of polyphony is contextualised not only in musical practice, but also in the wider interdisciplinary use of polyphony as a metaphor, leading to a consideration of agency and subjectivity. Besides verbalising and theorising polyphonic expression, this dissertation and the artistic outcomes of the research trajectory provide experiments and exercises useful for developing such a practice, as well as examples of its application. 


Prof. Frans de Ruiter
Dr. Vincent Meelberg


PhD defences are accessible without registration.

PhD dissertations

PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally after the defence through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

Press contact

Inès van Arkel, Scientific Communications Adviser, Leiden University
+31 71 527 3282

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