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Students will study critical reasoning – the interrogation of their own thought – sixteenth century counterpoint – the formal manipulation of musical materials – and the principles of coding and computation – the operational foundations of knowledge and action in our own culture. These subjects are both technical – their study requires instruction and practice – and culturally fundamental to the contemporary study of music. They raise specific issues and yet afford a level of abstraction that will inform every research topic. Students will pursue all three courses over a week of intensive teaching and learning, with a lesson and homework each day in each area. These courses will be taught by experts in their field – highly experienced teachers, each with an original, challenging and inclusive approach that allows them to address participants regardless of their prior experience or expertise.

Critical Reasoning – Marianne Talbot (Oxford University): Are you rational? Is your cat rational? Is that radiator rational? Most people would answer ‘yes’, ‘maybe’ and ‘no’ respectively. But why is a radiator not rational? We can think of it as wanting to keep the room warm and believing that a certain temperature counts as ‘warm’, so why not as coming to the conclusion that it should turn itself on when the temperature drops, and as its turning itself on as an act performed for a reason? And why are you so sure you are rational? The empirical evidence is mounting for the view that we are nowhere near as rational as we think we are. Could it be that we are not actually rational at all? During the sessions on Critical Reasoning we will reflect on what it is to be rational, consider what being rational enables us to do, particularly in our pursuit of musical excellence, and finally we’ll look at how, if we are rational, we might get better at reasoning.”

Sixteenth Century Counterpoint – Markus Roth (Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen): Why study counterpoint? – The concept of this workshop not only follows the idea that the training of contrapuntal thinking in contexts of Sixteenth-Century Music is a perfect school of combinatory skills and therefore for composition and ‘creative thinking’ in general: In addition, the engagement with both musical Practise and Theory of the Cinquecento can offer fascinating impulses for our own today’s musical experience and thinking. Themes/aspects amongst others: The hexachordum as source of inspiration, Learning from Isaac, Creativity and obligo, A Madrigal in a nutshell, Canon techniques, The ‘Open Partition’, Praise of the paradoxon.

Programming in the arts: practice and reflection – Magno Caliman (Orpheus Institute, Ghent): Computer code can be seen, at first glance, as a cold and deterministic layer hidden behind our everyday digital devices. A strictly defined set of rules (the infamous algorithm), optimized and carefully designed to achieve well defined goals such as posting a picture on Instagram, or calculating a missile trajectory. In this workshop we will subvert that view, by treating code as a plastic and malleable entity, an object to be speculated with by the artist, and therefore embedded with creative potential. While programming experimental instruments capable of sound generation and manipulation, the fundamentals concepts of computer science – such as functions, variables and control structures – will be presented, discussed, and experimented with. From those ‘hard science’ topics, broader conceptual discussions will be proposed, where we abstract computational principles in terms of a conceptual model to help us understand the world around us. Regardless of whether your area of research is HIP, electroacoustic music, or anything in between, you will see in this workshop how the practice of programming can provide you with tools to help you reflect upon your artistic and intellectual practice.