“Re-Assembling Extracts” is a four-year research-creation project that explores the possibilities of sustained, inter-traditional music-making in Montreal and Berlin. Due to migration and the transnational flow of people, ideas, and sounds, both cities have become fruitful sites for collaboration. Musicians from different traditions are able to encounter each other through their everyday, urban experience. Although several inter-traditional ensembles have emerged over the past 50 years, most of them have been short-lived and have contributed little to knowledge production, reflection, and meaningful collaboration among musicians. This project strives to develop and comparatively examine long-term, innovative approaches to inter-traditional music-making in Montreal and Berlin. Such approaches are grounded by the context of the multi-cultural city — its unique sense of place, socio-political condition and cultural environment — and the music traditions present within it.
The project will focus on two inter-traditional ensembles, the Berlin-based Ensemble Extrakte and The Sound of Montreal (an expansion of the renowned Ensemble Constantinople), to build on the inter-traditional musical explorations and arts practices currently taking place in these cities. Each ensemble will form a research team with local musicologists and anthropologists to engage in dialogue and critical analysis over the course of the project. Dr. Jin-Ah Kim (Humboldt University, Berlin), Dr. Oliver Seibt (Goethe University, Frankfurt), Dr. Raimund Vogels (Hildesheim University), and Dr. Julio Mendívil (Hildesheim University) will be working with Ensemble Extrakte in Berlin, while Dr. Jonathan Goldman (Université de Montréal) and Georgina Born (Oxford University, McGill University) will be observing the work of The Sound of Montreal. Julie Delisle (Ph.D., Musicology) and Ofer Pelz (Ph.D. candidate, Music Composition) will also be working with Dr. Goldman on the project, and MA student Stefan Blum will be assisting Dr. Kim.
Both research teams will participate in three yearlong cycles of musical collaboration, conceptual development, and systematic and cumulative reflection. Through a series of workshop phases, the research teams will explore the practical and theoretical implications of transcultural music-making in a multi-cultural urban space. The aim of each collaborative cycle is to produce a rich body of creative techniques, scores, recordings, and analyses that demonstrate and establish new avenues for trans-traditional, multi-traditional, and inter-traditional music-making. Following each yearlong cycle, both ensembles will create an evening-length performance shaped by the musical traditions present in each city and focused on a specific issue in inter-traditional music-making.
Throughout the project, musicians will deeply immerse themselves in new musical traditions to consider alternative expressions of time, space, pitch, and sound with the aim of creating a robust inter-traditional music language specific to each city. Each ensemble will invent new tools, communication modes, and musical cues, and will negotiate musical incompatibilities. Musicians involved in the project and academic observers, who have expertise in the theoretical questions and applications of inter-traditional and inter-cultural music-making, will write journals, analyses, descriptive and prescriptive texts, and essays around this process. These written accounts will form an apparatus of systematic reflection on and feedback to the ensembles’ developing practices.
For the first two years of the project, both sets of ensembles and local academics will work separately, exchanging information, scores, videos, and recordings digitally and meeting only once a year for a final outcome workshop. Each research team will focus predominately on each city’s unique musical traditions and the social and political contexts that inform them throughout their musical collaboration. Invaluable insights will be gained on the interdependency of globalized music-making and the transnational, multi-cultural urban spaces where it actually happens. This will be accomplished by conducting the research in two separate places at the same time, comparatively analyzing how musicians in the two cities react to the same score, and translating rule-systems developed by one ensemble to the other.