Seminars & Events

The Research Department regularly organises research seminars, symposia and other events. Please find below information on the current seminar series and other forthcoming events.

Research Seminars

Research Seminars take place on occasional Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 17.00 in the Lecture Theatre, Laban Building and are followed by drinks in the Laban Bar - all welcome!

The 2013-14 series commences with seminars by Trinity Laban's rececently appointed Readers:

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Prof John Irving (Trinity Laban)

Revisiting An Eighteenth-Century Conversation: filming Mozart's 'Kegelstatt' Trio

In 2012 John Irving made a documentary film with Ensemble DeNOTE about performance practice issues in Mozart's 'Kegelstatt' Trio for Clarinet, Viola and Piano, K.498 (composed in 1784 for Mozart himself, his colleague Anton Stadler and his piano pupil Franziska von Jaquin). Among the issues discussed were the scaling of performance gestures and sound production in chamber music played on period instruments; performer creativity (especially improvised embellishment); and the relation of period instrument technology to Mozart's musical language.

This seminar will introduce the film documentary, including the preparatory stages, scripting and editing, and attempt a reflective assessment - one year on - of what it set out to achieve, touching inevitably on the question: 'So how would we do it differently next time?' The documentary will also be screened.

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Dr Sam Hayden (Trinity Laban)

Composer-performer collaboration and computer-generated notation: (pre)compositional strategies in Sam Hayden's 'surface / tension'(2012) for oboe and piano

'surface / tension' (2012) for solo oboe and piano was composed in a close performer-composer collaboration with Christopher Redgate, as part of his AHRC-funded project New Music for a New Oboe  (see: The piece evolved from a dialectical relationship between the sonic possibilities inherent in new Redgate-Howarth oboe (an instrument developed specifically for the performance of contemporary repertoire) and computer-generated notation using IRCAM's OpenMusic. In particular, the underlying material for this piece was the product of two distinct (pre)compositional strategies, yielding two different kinds of 'found objects' which became the starting points for the piece: (a) the spectral analysis of multiphonics unique to the instrument was used to generate microtonal pitch fields; and (b) the algorithmic generation of artificial (inharmonic) spectra and complex rhythmical structures. As well as discussing (and demonstrating) the OM patches themselves, this paper will show how the collaborative process overall and the (pre)compositional strategies in particular, shaped directly both the notation of hyper-virtuosic material and approach to form, taking the piece in directions unanticipated by the composer. Much computer-music research has focused on aspects of digital sound synthesis. In this case, the composition of an entirely acoustic piece is nevertheless inseparable from computer-assisted compositional tools and new instruments. The use of such digital tools aids the creation of new musical ideas, sounds and modes of expression, beyond existing paradigms of musical culture. Such musical formalization creates a hyperawareness of the structural constraints within which one is working, and therefore the possibility to transcend them.

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Charles Linehan (Trinity Laban)

Charles Linehan's recent commissions include Dance Umbrella, Brighton Festival, Probe, and work for his own company of dancers. In this seminar, which introduces the speaker as the new Reader in Dance at Trinity Laban, he will show and discuss some of his own work in addition to that of some of his influences, which include Trisha Brown and choreographers working in the Central European tradition. Charles will also discuss the importance of lighting in his choreographic research process and work in general.

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Dr Tomas McAuley (University of Indiana)

Roll over, Wackenroder: Friedrich Schlegel's Position in the History of

According to the predominant Enlightenment (1680 - 1800) view of music, the purpose of music is to move the emotions of listeners in order to them to ethically correct behaviour. This view gave way in German-speaking countries in the years around 1800 to a newer conception of music according to which its purpose is to provide non-linguistic knowledge, particularly into the nature of ultimate being. The earliest source of this new view has been traditionally been regarded as Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder's /Confessions of an Art-Loving Friar/ of 1796. I argue, however, that this pivotal position in music history belongs rather to the philosopher Friedrich Schlegel. This reflects a deeper reevaluation of the source of the dramatically new view of music that arose in late eighteenth-century Germany. This view, associated with the amateur musician Wackenroder, has traditionally been presumed to be a response to contemporary music, particularly that of Beethoven. Mark Evan Bonds has challenged such presumptions by suggesting that changes in musical thought around this time were driven driven rather by a new conception of all the arts (/Music as Thought/, 2006), in which Wackenroder was a keen participant. I go further and suggest that a driving force behind these changes was, as exemplified by Schlegel, and with no substantial role for Wackenroder, the development of philosophy initially unconcerned even art in general.

Wednesday 29 January  2014

Dr Jonathan Owen Clark (Trinity Laban)

Aesthetics and Historicity

This paper concerns the intersection of art and aesthetics with what is termed 'historicity'- the ways in which human subjects have access to their own cultural and personal past. It will cover two ways in which this term is commonly understood in phenomenological history, namely both as the immanent sense of the past and present in first-person experience, and via the handing down of cultural narratives, which create layers and sedimentations that are handed across generations. We also suggest a third understanding of this term, provided through the historical survival of works of art and other artefacts. Drawing on the work of Alois Riegl, Jakob Burckhardt and Edmund Husserl, we define the role played in historicity by aesthetic 'cross-sections' of the past, which, it will be claimed, afford transhistorical linkages between 'subjective' and 'objective' historical experience.

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Prof Richard Wistreich (Royal Northern College of Music)

Music Books and Sociability

In The Order of Books, published in 1992, the French historian Roger Chartier pointed out that scholars risk misunderstanding the cultural function of early modern books by ignoring two interrelated aspects of the act of reading itself: first, that reading is an embodied practice and second, that at that time it was almost always a social one. Modern musicians, of course, know this still through their everyday experience: written music orders not just the sounds but also the interactions of most classical, and many other performers. And 'using the music' is a form of reading aloud of a particularly dynamic variety. This talk uses the evidence of sixteenth-century literature, pictures and notation, to throw light on the sociabilities that written music both enables and shapes.

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Prof David Kirsh (University of California, San Diego)

Creative Cognition: how we think in groups and with things

In dance and music, cognition happens at both an individual and group level. Choreographers and composers regularly think privately and then pass on their ideas to companies and ensembles.  But that is not all that happens before a performance.  Dancers and musicians have a role to play in determining the creativity shown in a performance.  In this talk I will explore how the intense interactivity between choreographer and dancers, and conductor and musicians is part of the creative process that goes into the final performance.  There really is a distributed version of creative cognition.  It happens whenever we work with our partner to perform a duet 'just right'.  It also happens every day when we make sketches - whether on paper or in our bodies.  Distributed creativity is not confined to groups of people. To discuss this I will use footage from an extensive study of Wayne McGregor | Random Dance, as well as other research studies I have done on sketching and collaboration. 

Wednesday 5 March 2014

Wayne McGregor (Wayne McGregor | Random Dance)

In conversation with Dr Jonathan Owen Clark (Head of Research, Trinity Laban), focussing on the choreographer's creative process and collaboration with cognitive scientists over the last ten years.

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Dr Kate Wakeling (Trinity Laban)

"Returning to a new self": Transformation, memory and the 'virtual' self in older people's music and dance

This seminar outlines current research into Trinity Laban's 'Retired not Tired' programme, a dynamic and exploratory outreach scheme which offers creative dance and singing activities to older people. The seminar will discuss the possibilities and processes of transformation which the programme has initiated among participants. It will explore the means by which performance can 'actualise' potential memories in older participants, examining how and why this kind of expressive activity has been found to animate the idea of 'virtual' selves among the programme's participants with such intensity. Drawing together theoretical approaches in gerontology and performance studies, the seminar will consider how these expressive interactions might shed light on existing theories of 'actualisation' and 'becoming', while also offering a fresh alternative to the impact-driven studies so ubiquitous among research into older people's arts activities.

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Dr Julia Beauquel (Université de Lorraine, Nancy)

How Dance Thinks

Dance has a history of being considered or reduced to an exhibition of graceful movements illustrating narratives and/or musical structures. Nowadays, it is equally likely to be conceived as a messenger of ineffable, affective and personal experiences. On the one hand, dance is reduced to an expression that is not autonomous or meaningful in itself; on the other, dance is identified as an impenetrable art, manifesting subjective states that cannot be intellectually understood or linguistically expressed. We will suggest that both these two broad perspectives tend to misconceive the nature of dance. Dance is neither an empty, purely technical and formal accompaniment for music, nor an abstruse form of the expression of deep, mysterious or hidden entities. Rather, the idea of a kind of "thought in action" is particularly relevant to dance. We will defend the rationality of dance learning, practice, creation and interpretation as artistic activities. Dancing involves dispositions and capacities that, although practical and seemingly hard to language, reveal a complexity that is proper to rational beings. An application to dance performances of the concepts of thought and rationality, we will maintain, is a benefit for both philosophy and dance, in encouraging to abandon traditional dichotomies (intention/action, expressed/expression, mental/physical, internal/external) and to refute the widespread tendencies to underestimate or to overcomplicate dance.


Please contact the Research Administrator if you have any queries:

Banner image: Artist Jaimie Henthorn, Photographer Rachel Cherry

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