Wendelin Bitzan

Wendelin Bitzan

Cooperation and Competition

I am currently working on a paper concerning the relationship of the academic disciplines of musicology and music theory in a broader sense. The main focus will be on possible aspects of cooperation / collaboration and competition / rivalry between the two subjects. If you have experienced certain situations, projects, employments, or structural issues in your work that can shed light on either relation, and if you are willing to share your insights, please feel free get in touch! My perspective is mostly concerned with the situation and academic tradition in Germany, but remarks and observations from other countries are welcome as well.

Preparatory Workshop in Music Theory

I will be offering a preparatory workshop soon again for music theory entrance exams at music universities in North Rhine Westphalia, organised by Deutscher Tonkünstlerverband NRW. Please notify your students who consider an application in Cologne, Detmold, Düsseldorf, Essen, or Münster!

» Thursday and Friday, 16–17 May, 2024 | 3–7 pm
» online via Zoom | participation fee: EUR 65
» click here for the registration form

Performances by Young Harpists

My composition Song without Words for solo harp will be included as a compulsory piece in the 10th Competition for Harpists of the Verband der Harfenisten Deutschland. The event takes place in the Thüringer Landesmusikakademie Sondershausen, 1–5 May 2024. If you happen to be in Thuringia at the next weekend, please stop by! The piece will be performed by about 15 young contestants, aged 10–12 years, on 4 May, 9 am to 4 pm.

Thoughts on Generating Music with AI

Up to now, artificial intelligence that aims to produce ›music‹ means little more to me than something to toy around with. On the fields I am most interested in as a lecturer and researcher—such as model-based historical composition, methodology of music theory, and analysis of music informed by scholarship from the time of its origin—AI does not have to offer much. Also, I don’t see any danger of obsolescence or redundancy of human creativity when it comes to producing acoustical ›recordings‹ of music inspired by traditional models of form, harmony, and voice-leading. In this respect, the results I have encountered so far are dull and uninspiring, and lack stylistic adequacy a great deal. While tools like Suno or Udio may yield an impressive outcome in some popular music styles, they desolately fail at tasks like generating, say, the beginning of a three-part fugue or a keyboard sonata exposition with two themes, modulating transition, and proper motivic treatment. See this link for one result of my painful attempts to have Suno produce the beginning of a classical piano sonata that moves from the I to V.

As long as generative AI models, prompted with text inputs, suffer from those obvious restrictions, they appear largely irrelevant for academic education in historically informed music theory. Still, I am curious what will happen in the near future. If we imagine that AI were able to generate something that sounds like an ideal-typical textbook example of a historical paradigm of musical form—say, a 16-measure small ternary, or a simple minuet with recapitulation of its initial idea—we might perhaps obtain something that could illustrate the function of a mere compositional model, plainly represented by the AI production for want of any existing musical embodiment. If we then confront this product with an actual piece of art that is based on the same model but transgresses the ideal-typical ›rules‹ in various aspects, and only then appears as an individual creation, such a comparison might in fact be beneficial as it could help students assess and better understand the role of formal and contrapuntal schemata for the genesis of a composition.

Streaming Releases #6–9

Some more releases of my music are now available on various streaming platforms, such as the following compositions:

I will upload some more recordings from the last two decades by and by. If you happen to take a fancy in any of these pieces, feel free to leave a like, bookmark, or playlist add—your support is much appreciated!