Patterns and Music

Massimiliano Viel
25 May / 29 May, 2015
Cittadellarte, Biella
TOPICS/TAGS: Listening, music perception, pattern composition, history of western music, performing arts, participation, temporality

To escape the identitary cages we are surrounded by, whilst dealing with today's culture with its complexities, diversity and pervasiveness, a conscious approach to the whole range of music phenomena is fundamental both for curatorial and artistic/music practices and the perception of the habitual music listener.

The module puts forth an approach to music stemming from an analysis of listening, and proposes a series of techniques for music production as well as strategies to deal with music in its broadest acceptation. Specifically, it will trace the consequences of embracing the conceptual frame of cognitive patterns when dealing with the complexities of the evolution of music structures (from the history of Western musical tradition up to the forms and styles of the music practices in today’s media culture).

Alternating discussion of theoretical notions and listening experiences with practical laboratories (production/composition and performing with voice, body-percussion and found objects), the module is suitable for participants with any degree of music knowledge from novice to skilled musician, as no previous knowledge of music theory and music notation are required.


May 25th
Guided tour to Cittadellarte, including the Pistoletto, Arte Povera collections and temporary exhibitions (curated by Luca Furlan)
Group presentation
Introduction of the main topics of the course

May 26th
A simple technique of pattern composition
Laboratory: My first composition

May 27th
Special and notorious patterns
Laboratory: Using the voice

May 28th
A pattern history of Western music
Laboratory: My first music performance project

May 29th
What is there in music besides patterns?
Laboratory: Let’s build a collective pattern performance

The mentor will prepare a reader for participants with key texts, some of which will be discussed during the week.

Agamben G., What is an apparatus? and other essays, Stanford, University Press, Palo Alto, 2009

Besseler H., Das musikalische Haƒaren der Neuzeit, Berlin, 1959

Akademie-Verlag, L’ascolto musicale nell'età moderna, Il Mulino, Bologna, 1993

Bregman AS,. Auditory Scene Analysis: The Perceptual Organization of Sound, Bradford Books, MIT Press, Cambridge, 1990

Delalande F., Le condotte musicali, Clueb, Bologna, 1993

Foucault M., The Archeology of Knowledge, trans. by S. Smith, Pantheon Books, New York, 1969

Foucault M., The Subject and Power, on Hubert L. Dreyfus & Rabinow P., Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics, Harvester Press, Brighton, 1982

Huron D., Sweet anticipation: music and the psychology of Expectation, MIT Press, Mass, Cambridge, 2007

Margolis H., Patterns Thinking and Cognition, University of Chicago Press, 1987

Maturana H. Varela F., The tree of knowledge: the biological roots of human understanding, Shambhala, Boston, 1992

Nattiez J., Musicologie generale et sémiologie, 1987, it. trans. Musicologia generale e semiologia, EDT, Torino, 1989

Ockelford A., Repetition in music: theoretical and metatheoretical perspectives, Ashgate, London, 2005



Massimiliano Viel is a composer, musician and researcher. His manifold activities as composer, keyboard player and sound designer brought him to collaborate with ensembles, orchestras and theatres all over the world and with composers such as L. Berio and K. Stockhausen.
Besides the production of scores for acoustic and electronic instruments, from solo works to orchestra pieces, he developed his artistic path around the relationship between music and other media, realizing performances and installations in close contact with theatre, visual arts and dance.

He is member of the Italian collective “otolab”, devoted to audiovisual performance.
He is a professor at Bolzano’s Conservatory (Italy) and PhD researcher at the Planetary Collegium T-Node, University of Plymouth (UK).

download the full documentation about the module and the mentor in PDF format

Participation fee
570.00 €