thumb 2 aesthetik logothumb 2 iasj logothumb 2 research logo

Aesthetics in Jazz in the 21st Century

The goal of the conference: showcasing opinions and ideas about 'aesthetics' in jazz of today. 'Aesthetics' is to be taken in the broad sense: reflections, ideas, opinions, and ways of thinking, that have come up in jazz in the 21st century.

The conference 'Aesthetics in Jazz in the 21st Century' was a collaboration between the Institute of Aesthetics in Music, the Jazz Research Institute, both in Graz, Austria, and the IASJ, the International Association of Schools of Jazz located in The Netherlands.

The conference took place on Friday 10 and Saturday 11 November 2023, in the Palais Meran, Leonhardstraße 15, 8010 Graz, Austria.


thumb trans aesthetics

Institute 14 Aesthetics of Music

The aesthetics of music engages with ideas and concepts that are fundamental to music. True to the original word meaning, it unfolds such ideas and concepts in their interplay with perception – ‘aisthesis’. What we take for granted in musical practice, in musicology and in everyday life, aesthetics turns into matter for reflection. Some of the ideas and concepts in case are peculiar to music, others it shares with further areas of thought and action, as, for instance, the idea of a work, of expression, or of form. Yet with regard to music, such more general concepts and ideas take on peculiar meaning to be articulated by aesthetics. Such meaning is not timeless. The history of concepts and ideas shapes our aesthetic access to music.


thumb trans research

Institute 16 Jazz Research

The Institute for Jazz Research in Graz, founded in 1965. It is one of the oldest and most renowned institutions of its kind in the world, and is devoted to the successful establishment and expansion of jazz research as an independent, interdisciplinary branch of musicology. Its primary research focus is the historical, cultural, and theoretical study of jazz, jazz-related, and popular music, including the music of Latin America and international folk music. One of the Institute’s most notable research achievements is an abundance of in-depth structural analyses of musical genres and individual musicians’ styles, based on original transcriptions of audio recordings.

A current focus of the institute’s vital research is an enhancement of the knowledge of jazz and popular music styles integral to cultural and social developments in major parts of the world.


thumb 2 iasj logo


The IASJ, the international Association of Schools of Jazz, is the leading worldwide network for jazz performance, jazz education and jazz research. Since 1990, the annual IASJ Jazz Meeting takes place in a different country each year. Students, educators, and directors of jazz programs meet, perform, network and exchange ideas. The 'research part of the IASJ Jazz Meetings is called the'Ongoing Dialogues'. The IASJ Journal of Applied Jazz Research grew out of the 'Ongoing Dialogues'.

In 2003 in The Hague, in 2010 in Corfu, and in 2021 in Leiden, IASJ Jazz Research Conferences took place. The 'Ongoing Dialogues', the 'IASJ Journal' and the 'IASJ Conferences' make clear that in jazz a specific kind of research is needed: applied jazz research which is shaped by and shaping jazz performance and jazz education.


Strand 2

Strand 2: The Self-Esteem and Identity of the Jazz Musician How do jazz musicians balance their careers? How much is sacrificed to play the music the jazz musician really likes? After their university studies, jazz students, perhaps more than students in other genres, are active in the music business as a primary source of income. However, a certain percentage gives up jazz and sometimes music altogether. Others devote more time than desired to a “day job” which finances their ability to play jazz, often sporadically. How do jazz musicians consider and evaluate the decisions they have to make?

Strand 3

Strand 3: The New Historiography of Jazz The succession of styles and aesthetics in jazz, one after another in every decade, as described in many history books, can no longer be maintained. From the 1980s on, a polyphony of “narratives” started to appear. In one narrative, the African American roots of dominate. Other narratives underline the global nature of jazz. In certain narratives, cultural claiming takes place, in others cultural appropriation. How does one detect and avoid biases in writing and thinking about jazz in the 21C?

Strand 4

Strand 4: The Power of Jazz in the Cultural Landscape Jazz has climbed the ladder from simple music used for entertainment in obscure venues to highly esteemed art music. In the 21C, the massive jazz summer festivals have taken over the leading festivals of classical music in their success and popularity. Jazz was and is, therefore, influencing other forms of art. What is this innate aesthetic power of jazz to undergo metamorphoses all the time and to be a dialectic with other art forms? How are these attributes of jazz currently working and what aesthetic and creative outcomes might be expected?

Strand 5

Strand 5: Media Aesthetics in 21C Jazz Every style of jazz in the past was mediated in a specific mix of media. The jazz artist in the 21C has an abundance of media to choose from: vinyl, CDs, streaming platforms, newsletters, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, a website, a blog and more. How should musicians utilize these communication options effectively? How should musicians market themselves in such a way that fits appropriately and efficaciously with the content of the jazz played? Is there a way of using the various media intelligently that will reinforce each other?

Strand 6

Strand 6: Open Strand Any type of research that is more or less linked with the keywords of the conference: aesthetics, philosophy, applied jazz research, artistic research, practice-based research, jazz education, jazz performance.

The conference 'Aesthetics in Jazz in the 21st Century'


The words 'aesthetics' and 'jazz' are seldom used in one sentence. Nevertheless, aesthetics judgements are made all the time and on all levels in jazz. Jazz musicians make aesthetic artistic choices while playing, while improvising. The audience makes judgements according to their tastes while hearing and seeing jazz musicians perform. Some jazz critics use stars rating in the reviews they write. Is jazz entertainment or art music? Should jazz be subsidized by public governments or by commercial companies?  How do the judgements in jazz competition and prizes work?


At the KUG, the 'Kunst Universität Graz' in Austria, the 'Institute for Aesthetics in Music' and the 'Institute for Jazz Research' organize several conferences per year as part of their mission. The IASJ, the International Association of Schools of Jazz, organizes bi-annual conferences to generate content for the 'IASJ Journal of Applied Jazz Research'. In the spring of 2023 the forces were joined. As a result, the conference 'Aesthetics in Jazz in the 21st Century' took place on 10 and 11 November 2023.


Andreas Dorschel: Institute of Aesthetics of Music, Graz, Austria
André Doehring: Institute for Jazz Research, Graz, Austria
Kurt Ellenberger: Grand Valley State University, USA
Ed Partyka: Jazz Institute, Graz, Austria
Wouter Turkenburg: IASJ, Leiden, The Netherlands


The call for papers covered six strands, six angles from which aesthetics in jazz can be approached. The description of the strand can be found here. Out of the proposals, the program committee selected the presenters. Their names are to be found in the program.


Pictures of the conference 'Aesthetics in Jazz in the 21st Century'

Carousel of pictures of the conference: coming soon.


Sorry, this website uses features that your browser doesn’t support. Upgrade to a newer version of Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or Edge and you’ll be all set.