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Aesthetics & performance in electronic music


Admission requirements

An interest in music.


A Seminar on the inspiration for music made using electronic means.

Electronic music seems to be the first musical genre to have arisen without a performance practice. Is it possible to make music without a connection to performance? Is listening ultimately a solitary activity Though this situation is no longer the default, basic themes remain in dispute. Does new music demand new instruments? In the last century European music was for largely committed to its own history and to reconceiving symbolic compositional systems. But audiences and composers are now comfortable with a wealth of music coming from non-western sources, novel instruments and widely replicating hybrids such as Jazz and hiphop which are strongly rooted in performance, improvization and hands-on practice. On the other hand EDM seems to cleave closely to a purely descriptive model with possible roots in European tradition. What are the issues: the changes wrought by recording and digital media, the novelty of synthetic sounds or the relation of man to machines and artificial intelligence? We will look at the need for performance and for new instruments.

The paradigm of music creation has been under strain since the invention of recording, now it clearly fractured. Distinctions like author, score, interpretation, copy, do not produce clear lines in the mind. Copyright is a legalistic solution seldom to the benefit of creatives. Is an artist or composer responsible for negotiating these conditions or is music at the service of pre-established social norms of state and entrepreneurial sovereignty? Subsidy models put aesthetic decisions in the hands of bureaucrats. Are constructions of ownership in conflict with the need for of human communication or creative desire?

What should we seek in this new formal diversity to guide our invention of music? How has being digital revised our relation to traditional music? Is there a even a theory of electronic music? Does science and technology provide this? The history of culture reveals a myriad contexts and intentions for music from celebration to work, ritual, healing and social harmonization. Shall we seek out totally new relations or has the break with the past been greatly exaggerated?

Study requirements

Students from Leiden University hoping to acquire 5 ECTS will be expected to do a musical project or writing assignment.

Dates, time and location

Study year 2019-2020, 1st and 2nd semester.
Mondays, 16.00-18.00 hrs.
First meeting: Monday 9 September 2019.

Room SON 15., Koninklijk Conservatorium, Juliana van Stolberglaan 1, Den Haag, tel. 070 315 15 15.

Mode of instruction

Lecture and seminar


Register for this course via uSis.


Rogier Schneemann Kees Tazelaar or

For other courses in the domains of music and fine arts, please visit: Elective courses music and fine arts