Wind and Wood, Affordances of the Wooden Transverse Flute in Swedish Traditional Music.

Projekt: AvhandlingIndividuellt forskningsprojekt


Since fifteen years, I have been deeply involved in re-establishing the wooden transverse flute in Swedish traditional music. During my practice as musician and teacher, I have been spurred to ask a number of questions about this process. At the centre of this cluster of questions lies the complex relationship between the musician, the musical instrument and the musical tradition. This is an area in need of further research: “… the expressive and communicative meanings that emerge as a result of particular kinds of embodied interaction with different instruments constitute a largely unexplored research territory” (Dogantan-Dack, 2015, p. 173). This PhD-project aims to contribute in the exploration of this area of research. The preliminary research question is:
What are the affordances of the musical instrument in the artistic and pedagogical processes when it is being (re)established in a genre?
Making use of the musical instrument as a tool for research highlights the need for a theoretical approach that elevates the musical instrument from being a passive object in the hands of the musician. Central to this approach is the concept of affordances, originally formulated by Gibson in his work on visual perception. (Gibson, 1977; Gibson, 1986). In short, affordances can be described as a set of relations between an organism and the object/environment. The object/environment conveys different meanings and possibilities depending on the needs of the organism. The concept of affordances has previously been used to study the relationship between the musician and the musical instrument:

…an instrument affords different musical possibilities to different performers; hence, the affordances of an instrument are as dependent on the individual performer as on the acoustic properties of the instrument.
(Östersjö & Coessens, 2014, p. 337)

The project consists of three sections; (A) an interview study with prominent flute players in other traditions, (B) a co-operative study performed together with an informal community of flute players, and (C) a series of autoethnographical studies using my self as a tool to explore the possibilities of the musical instrument. The methods used in the different studies are the results of experiences made through my own practice as musician and teacher.
Effective start/end date2015/02/022020/05/29