This documentation presents the ideas, development, results and reflections of an artistic research project by Daniel Formo entitled “The music of language and the language of music”. This doctoral project was conducted as a part of the Norwegian Artistic Research Fellowship Programme, and carried out at the Music Department of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway. The main supervisor for this project has been Øyvind Brandtsegg, professor in Music Technology at NTNU. In addition, Diemo Schwarz, researcher at the Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM), and composer Trevor Wishart, have acted as secondary supervisors.

Research context and documentation format

This project was carried out within the Scandinavian context of artistic research, emphasising artistic over theoretical practice, and at the core of the project is the creative artistic work from the practitioner’s point of view. In the still young academic field of artistic research the norms and forms have not quite settled yet, but with regard to documentation formats a pattern is starting to emerge – at least in the Norwegian context – with artistic research expositions being presented on dedicated web sites, or on web platforms like the Research Catalogue or the peer reviewed Journal for Artistic Research. In order to seamlessly integrate the kind of sound and video examples that are crucial for understanding a project about music and performance, a web site format has also been chosen as the main documentation format for this project, available at the address

Although this web site is the recommended format due to the important media content, a portable (and printable) digital version of the text content is provided as a compact downloadable file as well, with links to the sound and video examples available online.

To guide my priorities as to how artistic research should be conducted, I have tried to look into the very foundations of the artistic research field: in general, how research is justified politically as the primary way of producing new knowledge within a field, and in particular how the field of artistic research came into being (in Europe at least) as a direct result of EU free market standardisation of higher education. I discuss this in greater detail in an essay on artistic research included in the appendix, concluding that if we are to take seriously that artistic research is meant to produce new knowledge in the field of art practice, then it has to be relevant for fellow artists regardless of academic affiliation. On this background, I do not view artistic research as separate from artistic practice in general, and this project has been carried out with the understanding of artistic research as the actual practical investigation that is carried out through artistic practice (what Frayling termed research for art but Borgdorff calls research in the arts (Borgdorff, 2012; Frayling, 1993)) and not as an academic theoretical research that is based on this practice. In line with this, it is the artistic outcomes and the potential insights gained from these that represent the results of this research, and not the accounts and reflections in this documentation, which, in the words of Adorno, merely is meant to provide the “thoughts and concepts [that] assemble around art in such a way that the artworks themselves begin to speak” (Borgdorff, 2012, p. 122).

Content and structure

This documentation is structured as a set of main chapters giving an overall account of the different background ideas, working processes and actual outcomes of this project, as well as essayistic reflections on topics that have been central to the artistic development. In addition, the web version of this documentation includes the original research blog capturing the project’s progress during its development. These blog posts serve as stills from the development process with descriptions of events and performances, and as such provide a valuable supplement of details to the overall perspective provided by the main chapters.

I have organised the content of this documentation into three main categories: the first part covers the project’s background, giving an account of the ideas behind the project in relation to the context of other musicians in the field. Then the practical results are presented, describing the creative musical processes and outcomes of this project. The last part consists of a series of wider reflections on different topics related to the overall themes of speech and music as well the results of this project in relation to relevant fields.


I would like to thank the Norwegian University of Science and Technology for giving me this opportunity for in-depth study and development, and especially the Department of Music and its unit for Music Technology for an inspiring working environment. I would also like to thank my supervisors for all the help and constructive input during the project, and not least my family for all the support and understanding.


Borgdorff, H. (2012). The conflict of the faculties: perspectives on artistic research and academia. Leiden: Leiden University press.

Frayling, C. (1993). Research in Art and Design. Royal College of Art Research Papers Series (Vol. 1). London: Royal College of Art. Retrieved from

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