2015-06-12 18.15.02

This text is a slightly reworked version of a keynote speech I gave in Aveiro (Portugal) during the PERFORMA 2015 Conference on Musical Performance, organized by the University of Aveiro, the Institute of Ethnomusicology (INET-MD), and the Brazilian Association of Musical Performance (ABRAPEM).



I was asked to contribute an essay to the 50th issue of the Serbian journal New Sound. And also because my wife is Serbian I decided to write a sonic postcard from Belgrade in which (Serbian) sounds, sound art, and musics converge. See: http://www.newsound.org.rs/pdf/en/ns50/21.M.Cobussen.pdf


Find below a link to a short text, an audiofile with interviews with Edwin van der Heide and me, and lots of photos made during the opening ceremony of “Fluisterende Wind”



Whispering Wind (Fluisterende wind) is situated in the new passage that cuts right under the recently renovated P.J. Veth building of Leiden University. With this passage a new pathway between the Leiden Observatory and the Hortus Botanicus has been created. The artwork consists of a wall relief of 12.5 by 2.5 meters and an 8-channel generative sound composition. The composition creates a continuum between noise and human voice which results in moments when wind seems to be whispering.

Whispering Wind was established at the initiative of Marcel Cobussen, professor of Auditory Culture at the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts. Cobussen is also the founder of Phonotonie, a center that wants to draw particular attention to improving the auditory environment in urban areas.

The official opening will be performed by Robert Strijk, alderman of Economic Affairs, Accessibility, Culture and City Center of Leiden, on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 from 4:00 pm.



In today’s RTL Nieuws EditieNL a short interview with me why Q Music‘s radio quiz “Het Geluid” was so difficult. (The text is in Dutch.)

Q Music.jpg

Finally it is there, my e-pub on improvisation and complex systems. And … thanks to Leiden University Press and the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts, it is for free as well.

Download for free:

E-PUB: http://hdl.handle.net/1887/52784
E-PDF: http://oapen.org/search?identifier=637220 


The central aim of this e-pub is to present a new approach to “the field of musical improvisation” (FMI), a theory which understands improvisation as a nonlinear dynamic and complex system. The study provocatively argues that during an improvisation more actants are “at work” than musicians alone: space, acoustics, instruments, audience, technicians, musical and socio-cultural backgrounds, technology, and the like all play a significant role. However, not all of these actants determine every improvisation to the same extent; some are more prominent and active than others in certain situations (periods, styles, cultures, as well as more singular circumstances). Therefore, the FMI theory will prove to be more than a theory dealing with improvisation “in general.” Rather, FMI emphasizes singularity: each improvisation thus yields a different network of actants and interactions, a unique configuration or assembly.


It is startlingly original in so much as it brings a philosophical/social understanding to the field of musical improvisation. I’ve not really encountered a work that does this so imaginatively and thoroughly. Indeed – reading the work – I think the whole manuscript is one wonderful set of improvisations – and as such works very well. Michael Bull Professor of Sound Studies at the University of Sussex

Marcel Cobussen offers a concise and compelling account of musical improvisation that spans – and at times transgresses – conventional notions of musical genre and academic discipline. A wonderful approach that leverages the multimodal aspects of improvisation and of learning in general. Bravo! David Borgo Professor of Music at UC San Diego



music and ethics

… more good news … after the launch of “my” MOOC Music & Society a couple of days ago, today I found on my doormat the paperback version of “Music and Ethics”, the book I wrote with Nanette Nielsen. 35 GBP instead of the 95 GBP for the hard cover. IOW, affordable for more people!


I am happy (and a bit proud) to announce that the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) my colleagues and I from Leiden University developed about Music and Society is online! If you are interested in the relation between music and society, philosophy of music, sociology of music or aesthetics, make sure to check it out! https://l.facebook.com/…/https%3A%2F%2Fwww.coursera.org%2Fl…” or directly on the Coursera site: https://www.coursera.org/learn/music-society