Temporality of the Impossible
: exploring the multifaceted process of preparation of complex pieces from the late 20th and 21st centuries

  • Dejana Sekulic

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


​​Temporality of the Impossible is a research project about my artistic practice on performing late 20th- and 21st-century solo violin repertoire with multi-dimensional difficulties. Within this repertoire, I focused on pieces that, despite minute-detailed annotations in the score, intentionally escape the extreme fixity that they at first glance seem to be designed to achieve. As such, they impose a novel approach to the interface between performer, instrument, notation, movement, and sound, and thus demand redefining of performance practice and practicing.

The challenges begin from the notation and range over destabilased sonic identity of the instrument, extreme combinations and successions of techniques, challenging meanings of physical actions and gestures, and going as far as using the non-linear passing of time and using performance space as part of the musical material. With these kinds of challenges as a starting point, the sounding outcome of each of these pieces can greatly vary from one performance to another.

The following thesis is an account of the process, in which my explorations aimed to reexamine, deconstruct, and reconfigure understandings and approaches to the interpretation and performance practice of a classically trained violinist in relation to this chosen repertoire. Through the process of deconstructing and unlearning, I had to develop methodologies that facilitated learning how to retain, navigate, and channel surplus amounts of information which was often contradictory. My main aim was to establish ways that would allow for embodiment of potentials of all the material of the piece individually, rather than fixing one interpretation during the preparation process and thus imposing undesired hierarchy between the material. In this way, the material could continue to evolve and organically build the interpretation always anew in the moment of the performance, according to the design of the pieces. Accepting this continuous process as the necessary tool of the performative vocabulary in the pieces and its protean nature was a significant part of the research.

The research outcomes presented here include recordings of performances alongside a detailed account of the process leading to performance. Both the performances and the methodology can feed into current thought on performance practice, and the methodologies could be adopted by other violinists dealing with works from late 20th- and 21st-century solo violin repertoire.​
Date of Award22 Feb 2024
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMary Bellamy (Main Supervisor)

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