Samuel Peruzzolo Vieira

INET-MD: Aveiro University

Composing in collaboration: A hermeneutic approach on composition and notation

Hermeneutics can be understood as a theory that effectively acts over the process of understanding written and verbal communication through the establishment of suitable rules for the interpretation. By evidencing the nature of critical perception through an ontogenetic perspective of context and meaning, hermeneutics comprises both the interpreted object and the interpreter’s position. In music, the hermeneutically structured performance is obtained not only by the development of a coherent musical comprehension of the written score but primarily by realizing the complexity of the phenomena that result from a string of epistemological situations involved in music practice. However, although musical interpretation in hermeneutic sense has been discussed from over a hundred years, little has been said about the composer’s point of view so far. Moreover, as the relation between composer and performer has been solidly increased through collaboration and practice- based researches, the need to answer the critical question about the benefits of modern hermeneutics inflecting the compositional process of the living composer becomes evident. By understanding the benefits of the hermeneutics and the open interpretation (to use an expression coined by Lawrence Kramer in Interpreting Music, 2007), this theory can work as a platform for composers to develop new forms of communicating their intentions and interacting directly with recreation and performance. Thus, a paradigm emerges from this discussion as it faces a yet more substantial question: if hermeneutics presupposes open interpretation, how can this theory contribute to works written in non-traditional notation where, similarly, an open interpretation is expected? This paper considers the creative and collaborative potential for modern hermeneutics not only to contribute as an interpretative method to expand the structural base of a performance but ultimately as a compositional strategy to develop new systems of communication, reportedly on the development of alternative forms of notation. As a hypothesis of solution, three scores composed by the author will be discussed in-depth, focusing on the problem solutions found by composer and performers when working together for deconstructing hierarchies and reconstructing musical intentions.

Keywords: hermeneutics, musical communication, notation.


Percussionist and composer Samuel Peruzzolo-Vieira graduated with Bachelors in Music/Percussion at Federal University of Santa Maria– Brazil in 2005 and Masters in performance at Texas A&M University–Commerce, in 2010. Previously, Mr. Peruzzolo-Vieira occupied the chair of principal timpanist of PUC/RS Philharmonic Orchestra for almost four years, simultaneously working as a chamber  musician of Twentieth and Twenty- first century’s music in Brazil. He is a PhD candidate at the University of Aveiro (Portugal), with a research focusing on the correlations between composition and interpretation, more specifically about alternative notation and musical hermeneutics. While in college, he studied composition with Martin Lichtfuss (Vienna), Jack Fortner (USA), Dimitri Cervo (BR), Amaro Borges (BR) e Ted Hansen (USA). His compositions have been performed in Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Croatia, USA, France, England, Italy, Norway and Portugal, having works recorded in five CDs in Brazil and USA. Peruzzolo-Vieira is a member of INET-md (Portugal) Institute of Music and Dance as a fellow researcher, having contributed with groups such as POST-IP, Performa, Research “Hands on” and IMPAR. Currently Samuel is a percussion professor at JOBRA. In 2010 Samuel was one of the selected winners of Funarte’s Biennal Composition Competition, one of the most influential prizes for composers in Brazil and in 2011 he earned the first prize of the Percussive Arts Society Composition Contest-USA.