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Title: Vertical listening : musical subjectivity and the suspended present
Author: Haworth , Christopher Paul
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis comprises a body of theoretical and practical work that asks, broadly, what it means to listen 'in the present'. However, the question is less about whether such a thing: is possible and more one of why it should emerge at all; what does 'presentness' stand for in the listening strategies of John Cage, or in the instantaneous forms of La Monte Young? And why does it appear with such urgency in the music and sound art of the last sixty years? I argue that the aesthetics of presentness should be understood in relation to two dimensions of music and sound art; one, an objective dimension relating to time, form and musical history; and the other, a subjective one relating to musical experience in everyday life. In the first case, presentness is considered amongst ideas of temporality and non-temporality that pass between visual art and music through the late 20th Century, where space comes to be extolled and time is equated with finitude. In the second, it is placed in conversation with ideas about emotion, autobiographical memory, and power. Here, presentness represents a path to emergent experiences that are not steered by the emotional contour of the music, whilst also giving: permission for alternative listening states such as trancing. These themes are explored over four sections that each take in a variety of perspectives, engaging literature, film theory, critical theory, philosophy, and perceptual and cognitive science. These ideas are sounded out and critiqued through my own compositional practice, which draws on the sciences of psychoacoustics and music psychology to render audible to the listener the mechanisms of audition. In these spatial sound works, auditory illusions and perceptual anomalies coalesce to 'choreograph' both general and particular aspects of auditory perception, dramatising the present of listening.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available