Oriol Saña: Could Jazz be the solution to your problems?

PhD Thesis

The objective of this thesis is to empirically demonstrate that violin students of classical and contemporary music of the Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya achieve a significant improvement in their interpretation of orchestral passages of classical and contemporary repertoire when applying study methods based on inherent musical characteristics of jazz.

The investigation grew out of previous experiences with violin interpretation, including both pedagogic and technical knowledge. It also comes from collaborations with the research group “Music Technology Group” of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, especially in the technological development applied to the study of violin performance. These two practices previous to this thesis led me to choose empirical musicology as a theoretical and disciplinary framework for the research, even though it is usually a subject of pedagogical studies.

The thesis supposes a meeting point between diverse disciplines, specifically the sciences of sound, being technologically oriented and related to engineering studies, and the sciences of music, being sociologically oriented and related to the humanities. Given that the languages of both disciplines are different and highly specialized, the dialogue between them, in which this case study is based, has created a first draft of an epistemological critique, affecting both musicology and sonology. In this way, the approach of this thesis has led to a revision of the traditional processes of both types of musical investigation.

Empirical musicology is a trend which revived less than two decades ago, within the context of a technological growth never seen before in computer media. Nevertheless, there are still great difficulties to be overcome, especially when it comes to presenting results. The positive results of this thesis, although quantitatively inferior, have shown that the defended hypothesis cannot be falsified, and encourage more study in a wider, international context. On the other hand, the negative results have indicated a path towards correcting errors rashly accepted in similar research approaches, and confirm that implementing empirical musicology to the pedagogical development of violin performance was a correct decision.