Per Anders Nilsson presents his thesis in artistic research: A Field of Possibilities, Designing and Playing Digital Musical Instruments

In my thesis I focus on a set of digital musical instruments I have designed and developed with ensemble improvisation in mind. The intention is not to create a universal improvisational instrument, but rather to create a set of instruments which each realize one musical idea. My research addresses the meaning and relations between activities in two stages, what I call “design time” and “play time”. In short, design time is conception, representation, and articulation of ideas and knowledge outside of chronological time, whereas play time takes place in real-time and concerns bodily activity, interaction, and embodied knowledge. In this work aesthetics play a crucial role, and here signify what is important for me. At design time my aesthetic preferences guide the design process, whereas in play time, a subjective aesthetic tenet is that musical improvisation has strong similarities to gaming and play. One hypothesis states that choices made during the design process at the development stages of a digital musical instrument significantly influence ensemble improvisation and musical results at play time. A digital instrument in this work constitutes a field of possibilities, which in play actualizes the aesthetic decisions of its designer, and in cases where the designer and player are one, during play there will be a double influence: directly through the player’s actions, and indirectly through the nature of the instrument.

Per Anders Nilsson (1954)
Improvising musician and electroacoustic composer from Gothenburg, Sweden. Studied saxophone and electroacoustic music 1981-87 at the School of Music at University of Gothenburg. In 2011 he finished his PhD thesis A Field of Possibilities: Designing and Playing Digital Musical Instruments. In the 70s and 80s he managed his own bands as well performed occasionally with musicians such as Willem Breuker, Anthony Braxton, Palle Mikkelborg, Karin Krog and John Surman. In 2009 Nilsson toured Sweden with the legendary saxophone player Evan Parker. Nilsson has been played at several ICMC: Aarhus, Banff, Thessaloniki, Beijing and Miami as well as been commissioned at GRM, Paris and has also been a visiting scholar at CNMAT in Berkeley, CREATE in Santa Barbara as well as CCRMA at Stanford. Nilsson was also music coordinator for ICMC 2002. Nilsson has released several CDs since the nineteens: the solo CD Random Rhapsody in 1993, the group Natural Artefacts released CDs in 2001 and 2005 plus Strings and objetcs with Nilsson/Sandell, Duo duo pantoMorf with Palle Dahlstedt (, in 2008 and in april 2009 with Beam Stone on the English label PSI (

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012, 6:00pm to 8:00pm