Publications have shown how patients present different ways of playing that relate to their psychological disorder (Smeijsters, 2005; Streeter, 1999). In addition to anecdotal evidence from clinical work, evidence of pathological play is to be found in research (De Backer, 2008; Schumacher et al. 2011; Von Moreau & Koenig, 2013). A literature review shows how it is possible that the musical co-play of diagnosed pathological groups may be used to examine specific aspects such as expression, emotional contact, motor skills, intersubjectivity, musical interaction, communication for the purpose of the development of a diagnostic or as an assessment tool. In this study we want to focus only on the music in the music improvisation in a clinical context. This is based on the research of De Backer (2008), which demonstrated how characteristic ways of playing are visible within a therapeutic process. We know that a transformation in the modality of playing entails a transformation on a psychological level. In this study, we want to differentiate between the various styles (modalities of playing) in the musical co-play of improvisation. Through this research, we will gain insight into the different characteristic improvisational styles. As a result it will become possible to explore and define musical interventions. These musical interventions are necessary for transforming the modalities of playing of the patient in a clinical context. The developing and defining musical interventions will also be undertaken in collaboration with composers. From findings related to the musical components of the clinical material, the composer will create new compositions in which transformations from one improvisation style to another can be explored. In this study, this will make a clear cross-over between clinical practice and the artistic practice of composition. Research questions are: what modalities of playing can be distinguished in a musical improvisation with psychiatric patients? What musical interventions can be developed out of the artistic practice of composition in order to make transformations in the modality of playing possible? In which ways can the composer use the specific modalities of playing from clinical settings as building blocks for new compositions or compositional styles?


  • Dr. Jos De Backer (teamleader, KU Leuven/LUCA)
  • Dr. Foubert Katrien (KU Leuven/LUCA)
  • Dr. Lowyck Bendicte (KU Leuven)
  • Dhr. Jan Van Camp (LUCA)
  • Dr. Verhaest Yannick (KU Leuven)
  • Dr. Rudi Vermote (KU Leuven)

Research Unit: Music & Drama

Duration: 2014 - 2016