Bad Music in Oslo?

Can a piece of music can be inherently bad, or are all such judgements purely subjective? Associate Professor in Composition Matthew Shlomowitz reports on a recent premier in Oslo addressing such issues.


I was commissioned by the Ultima Festival in Oslo to compose a forty-minute work for the Plus Minus Ensemble, a group I direct with English composer Joanna Bailie. For this commission I decided to do something different: instead of writing a piece, I wrote a ‘lecture-piece’. Drawing on scholarship from the fields of psychology, philosophy, music cognition and cultural studies, the work explores what is going on when we make aesthetic judgements. I perform the role as lecturer along with four musicians who present musical demonstrations and recreations of psychological experiments.

Here is a video of the performance at the Norwegian National Opera.

The piece will be performed again at the Turner Sims Concert Hall at 1pm on Monday 2nd November, and in London at Café Oto on 3rd November.