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The Nothingness of Presence: Sound, Ritual, and Encounter in the Music of Into Your Hands

Description: The ritual music written for the Compline service of the Liturgy of the Hours, Into Your Hands, is analyzed using an ontological and phenomenological approach, which seeks to answer how such sound/musical phenomena wed to the specific ritual dynamics of Compline in their own right can create a potential for encounter with the Divine. The Jewish philosopher Martin Buber’s understanding of encounter is used to show that the sound/musical phenomena in itself bears similarities with the nature of the Judeo/Christian God, and such a nature is revealed to be both irreducibly non-conceptual as well as an entity that establishes the ontological actuality of one’s being. Studies in the beginnings of humanity at large as well as the beginnings of the individual fetus reveal that an integrated expression of music and ritual can be said to have formed the impetus of such ontological beginnings through encounter. Therefore, one of the first sounds heard in the womb - that of water (or amniotic fluid) - constitutes what may be an archetypal sound of encounter. The phenomenological effects of such an archetype are analyzed in the music of Into Your Hands through topics such as the loss of aural perspective, immersion, dynamic swells, cyclic harmonic progressions, and simultaneity. Works of other composers who use similar techniques are discussed.
Date: May 2015
Creator: Evans, Eric
Partner: UNT Libraries