Artistic Reflections on Composition and Improvisation

PhD dissertation

Ilya Ziblat

Academy of Creative and Performing Arts
Leiden University, The Netherlands


Abstract: Between Freedom and Fixity: Artistic Reflections on Composition and Improvisation is a practice-based research project that aims to highlight the role of freedom and fixity in music and to develop a discourse based on these two concepts. The research suggests a creative approach based on the interrelationship between freedom and fixity, for example their combination, juxtaposition, and tension, and describes them as abstractions or placeholders for musical agents such as rhythm, notes, structure, timeline, and interactive computer systems. Another important notion is the inherent coexistence of the two concepts, and proposing the constant oscillating between them as a creative musical approach. Furthermore, the research aims to establish the use of freedom and fixity as a productive paths for extra-musical disciplines. Four works by the author are used as case studies to examine the integration of the research concepts as tangible musical forms. In each of the case studies freedom and fixity are embodied differently, and the relationships between them develop into distinct paths. This study relies on the author’s experience and experimentation as a composer, performer, improviser, and electronic-music practitioner, and draws inspiration from works by other musicians and scholars.


Promoter: Prof.dr. Marcel Cobussen (Leiden University)

Co-promoter: Prof.dr. Richard Barrett (Royal Conservatory of The Hague/ Institute of Sonology/ Leiden University)


Promotion committee:

Prof.dr. Gary Peters (York St. John University)

Prof. Frans de Ruiter (Leiden University)

Prof. dr. Henk Borgdorff (Leiden University)

Dr. Ruta Vitkauskaite

Dr. Henrik Frisk (Royal College of Music in Stockholm)

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