Studies in the Arts (SINTA)

Portraits of doctoral students

Robert Michler

Postal Address
Universität Bern
Graduate School of the Arts
Robert Michler
Muesmattstrasse 45
CH-3012 Bern

Robert Michler

Robert Michler was born in 1974 in Tübingen/ Germany. He grew up in the south of Germany and later spent his youth in northern Germany and Hamburg. From 1984 on, he became a pupil at the music and art oriented "Albert-Schweitzer-Gymnasium", where he took opportunity in an intense education of music, including the participation in projects of Classical Orchestral Music, Rock- and Pop-Music including Musicals. He played the instruments Piano, Clarinet and later Drums and reached the conclusion of the german degree "Abitur" in 1994. In 1997 he began his studies in Jazz-Drums at the "Folkwang-University" and from then on was involved in diverse activities of concerts, music productions and competitions, finishing his studies with the diploma of performance in Jazz-Music. He received scholarships for stays in the USA and Canada and did several touring with band sand ensembles. His first interest in cultural backgrounds of music came up by personal intentions, starting to visit the renowned Jazz Institut in Darmstadt for personal research. As a Music Performer, Robert lived and worked in Berlin from 2003 to 2010, leading his own Ensemble for Jazz- and Pop-Music as well as the work on Movie Scores and silent Movies with live Soundtrack. He moved to Switzerland in 2010, concentrating on music pedagogy and finishing the studies of pedagogy in music with the degree "Lehrdiplom für Maturitätsschulen Monofach Musik". His final thesis was entitled "Film mit Live-Musik- zum Verhältnis von Sound und Visualität" and was supervised by Prof.Dr.Britta Sweers. Since then, a further and deeper interest in research was awakened and Robert did assistent works for the project "Cult Sounds" by Immanuel Brockhaus and started the "Master of Research" at the university of Bern in 2015. The desire, to bring the diverse experiences about performing, producing and education in music in a bigger context, brought him to the work "Drum Machines – analoge Vorboten der Quantisierung", analysing how Music Technology nowadays has big impact on the interpretation and evolution of popular music.

Robert Michler currently works as an educator in music at the HKB Bern (MAS Pop&Rock) and a public school in Kirchberg/ BE.


Prof. Dr. Britta Sweers, University of Bern, Institut of Musicology (Cultural Anthropology of Music)
Dr. Immanuel Brockhaus, University of the Arts HKB (Research, Music, Further Education)

Doctoral project

Quantization: Realignement for the accurately defined groove in popular music

Since the 1980s, productions in pop- and rock-music have changed into accurate, rhythmic constructions whenewer music technologies such as Drum Machines and Synthesizers appeared and divulged on the music scene. Practise and performances have been considerably effected in approach of style and aesthetics.
The act of organising rhythmic events on a time-based grid is called quantization and therefore has obviously a large impact on the specific components, which build the groove in popular music.

In this context, diverse questions naturally appear: Why is an equal, machine-like order preferred in this type of music? Which ways, manners and interpretations of rhythmic play have been performed in the period before the mentioned technical innovations, and was there a transformation? In which way change cultural meaning and aesthetics of popular music under the circumstances of modified standards in production?

This project work will use methods of qualitive research by interviews, analysis of music and the allowance of existing theories like ANT and AMT.
It is assumed that until today, a paradigmatic change has been caused by quantisation, but has not been observed yet.
An analysis of current discourse will be made to clarify, that contemporary productions use quantization as a common tool and in a conscious way.

Research priorities

Interpretation in popular music; Musictechnology