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Title: Recognising absurdity through compositional practice : comparing an Avant-Garde style with being avant garde
Author: Halay, Alannah Marie
ISNI:       0000 0004 6349 8002
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2016
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‘avant garde’ and ‘Avant Garde’: one term denotes artistic progression, the other describes a fixed concept. These terms are easily and often confused, and this contributes to blurring the boundaries between being progressive and adhering to a style. Unknowingly adhering to the Avant-Garde style, under the false guise of being ‘new’, perpetuates a Sisyphean nature in Avant-Garde practice today. Such practice has become inward-looking, separated from the majority of society, and therefore fails to be the ‘advance post’ it proclaims. In Camus’s terms, this is absurd. Rather than proving and accepting this absurdity, I explore the unfolding of such absurdity through compositional practice, and attempt to avoid it. This involves recognising the absurdity (and maintaining an awareness of it) as well as examining and comparing the mechanics behind the formation of the Avant-Garde style with being avant garde by way of an introspective examination of my compositional process. This practice-led method is supported by theoretical, musicological, and analytical research into existing practice. My research is supplemented by the following topics: Meno’s paradox; Heidegger’s hermeneutic framework as a development of Meno’s paradox; Adorno’s notion of naïveté; détournement as a means of recognising absurdity through practice. Examining my own compositional process, in relation to existing practice, allows me to propose that the Avant-Garde style is based on two interacting hermeneutic frameworks between ‘unfamiliarity’ and ‘familiarity’, and creative ‘freedom’ and ‘restriction’. If one is to overcome these frameworks and be genuinely avant garde, subversion of technique cannot be an end in itself but should support the truth content of a musical work; this is because a musical work is defined by its context more than its constituent musical characteristics. Subversion must happen in relation to the context of a composition, not the composition itself. Adherence to an Avant-Garde context, perpetuated by the expectations of practitioners with a knowledge of that context, prevents compositional practice from moving beyond that context and being genuinely avant garde. All one can do now is recognise this absurdity. This is not a solution, but should pave the way for future developments in this area. For now, ‘there is no longer any art that has remained inviolable.’
Supervisor: Iddon, Martin ; Spencer, Michael Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available