Schola Cantorum Basiliensis

Research at the SCB

The Schola Cantorum Basiliensis was founded in 1933 as an Institute for Education and Research. The importance of research for historical music and performance practise was clear from the very beginning: in many cases readily-available information about instrumental/vocal technique was incomplete; the sources on music theory, fundamental to the historical approach (Historische Satzlehre) at the Schola, had to be made accessible.  Much of this material was not available in modern editions. In the meantime, research at the SCB also includes filtering through a wide variety of musicological subjects to find those which are relevant for the particular needs of musicians, and to integrate these into teaching practise. In addition, the general direction of the course of training must be examined regularly with a critical eye, in order to check, adapt, or newly-formulate conceptual guidelines. Last but not least, the Research Department picks up propositions made by faculty members and students and integrates these into their own work.

All in all, the Research Department of the SCB is a sort of ‘brain trust’ with a definite effect on practical teaching. Most of all, research at the SCB means that musicologically-trained personnel accompanies the practical musical work, thereby guaranteeing an indispensible minimum of critical feedback and control over teaching material and approaches to interpretation.  It also means that the Research Department deals with questions concerning historical performance practise within the school, and provides methodological support, with the aim of training musicians to be aware of the difference between the music in its historical framework and its artistic interpretation in the present. The students should also be taught the basic principles of musicological procedures.

There are currently three musicologists in the research Department. A specialized library and microfilm collection are part of the infrastructure. The Advisory Board for the ‘Basler Jahrbuch’ is made up of five eminent musicologists, who provide fresh perspectives on important research questions in addition to fulfilling an advisory function for the annual publication.  Personal contact between the members of the Research Department and numerous colleagues from many different regions and areas of expertise provide a constant influx of new stimulus for work within the SCB.

Fields of activity
Among the specific responsibilities of the Research Department are:

1. Musicological activities of the members of the Research Department

  • Publication of the ‘Basler Jahrbuch für Historische Musikpraxis’ (Basel Annual for Historic Music Practise)
  • Bibliography of the writings on historic music practise (printed
      in the Basler Jahrbuch)
  • Planning and carrying out an annual symposium on practise-related subjects
  • Music editions (in the series ‘Pratica musicale’)
  • Acquisition of source material and secondary literature (microfilm collection, library) as well as taking care of the collection of audio materials
  • Organizational and editorial accompaniment of recording projects in the series ‘Schola Cantorum Basiliensis - Documenta’.
  • Assistance with and supervision of special projects (opera studio, experiments related to instruments, etc.)
  • Publications and activities outside the SCB (books, articles, lectures, cataloguing work, etc.)

2. Teaching responsibilities 
The members of the Research Department teach the following subjects: Music History, Source Studies, History of Musical Instruments, and other historical subjects. They supervise student papers and Master’s theses.

Outside experts are invited to the SCB for special event series as well as for individual lectures, workshops, and exchange of experience.

3.  Research commissions 
The SCB allocates research commissions on practise-related subjects, preferably to instructors within the Institute. When appropriate, these may be supported by assistance from members of the Research Staff.  The results of such work may be integrated into publications or activities of the Research Department, for example as an article in the Basler Jahrbuch, as an edition of a musical source, as a separate bibliography, an investigation/analysis of subjects related to music theory or music history, in methodological/didactic work, or in special experiments having to do with performance practise.

The SCB has a wide variety of national and international contacts in the field of music research. The annual symposia and Forum events attract notable specialists to the SCB, and the Advisory Board of the ‘Basler Jahrbuch’ is made up of distinguished musicologists. Research at the SCB is integrated into the network ‘Research and Deveopment’ of the Swiss universities.

Furthermore, the members of the Research Department as well as instructors at the SCB pursue their own individual  research projects, leading to many contacts, lectures and publications outside the framework of the SCB.