The Theory

While working as a professional jazz pianist, I have also pursued an academic project, so far culminating in my thesis for the cand.philol. degree in musicology (equivalent to something in between the Master degree and the Ph.D.) at the University of Oslo.

In musicology, my main field of interest is the psychology and phenomenology of improvisation. Although recognizing the importance of established jazz analysis and jazz history, I try to develop this field of research in directions that are not covered very well in jazz theory as we know it. I draw heavily on the psychology of relationships developed by German psychoanalytic Helm Stierlin and Norwegian psychologist Anne-Lise LÝvlie Schibbye, both of whom offer a very exciting approach to the ancient notion of dialectics. It's all about living the paradoxes of life and art dynamically and fruitfully. It's about coming to terms with contradictions recognizing both sides of polarities without getting stuck in the middle-of-the-road. It's about synthesizing – locally, non-monolithic and (if you like) "post modernist" – your dilemmas. It's about moving creatively in a neo-Hegelian "Aufheben" kind of way. I approach dilemmas like closeness vs. distance, moment vs. duration and gratification vs. frustration, and I try to explore them combining empirical jazz research (interviews and analysis) with contemporary "scenic" music theory, psychodynamic theory and dialectical philosophy. I focus on the stimulating analogies between physical, social, and musical intimacy in this respect; where the challenges of coming to terms with controlling vs. being led, of recognizing otherness while keeping a centered sense of self etc., are crucial and constitutive of our being-in-the-world - our being in a social group, our being in a relationship, and: our being in the dialectical erotism of improvisational music.

My thesis (hovedoppgave) was entitled "Improvisasjonens dialektiske utfordringer", and you can order a copy by placing me an e-mail at, or you can click at the title to read a more in-depth abstract. The thesis is in Norwegian, but I have now also written an essay in English outlining its main issues: "The Dialectical Eroticism of Improvisation". Click on the title to read or download (pdf format).