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A Phenomenology of Music Analysis

Description: Many of the early writings and lectures of the German phenomenological philosopher Martin Heidegger involve investigations into the question of Being. An important part of these investigations is his examination of how we go about the everyday business of existing--doing our jobs, dealing with things in our environment, working through problems, thinking, talking--and what our ways of operating in these everyday activities tell us about our Being in general. Musicians have their own everyday musical tasks, two of the most prominent of which are composing and performing. Composers and performers, like everyone else, have a 'world'--Heidegger's word for the structure of relationships between equipment, persons, and tasks and the way in which a person is situated in that structure--and that 'world' allows them to cope with their musical environment in ways that enable them to make music as composers and performers. Analyzing music is an activity that a Heideggerian approach sees as derived from the primary musical activities of composing and performing. A music analyst trades the possibility of primary musical involvement for a kind of involvement that points out determinate characteristics; hence in adopting an analytical stance, the analyst trades doing something musical for saying something about music. In making such a trade, however, a prior musical involvement--a basic musicality--is always presupposed. Every way of analyzing music has its own way of making determinations, and after detailing the manner of the derivation of the general analytical attitude, this study examines several types of analysis and the ways in which they exemplify the derivative nature of analytical activity. One extended example, an analysis of Jean Sibelius's The Swan of Tuonela, provides several opportunities for discussion (via interspersed passages of commentary) of a view of music analysis drawn from Heideggerian phenomenology.
Date: December 1995
Creator: Anderson, Andrew E. (Andrew Edwin)
Partner: UNT Libraries