Skip navigation
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: Embodying Meaning and Imagining Sound in Nineteenth-Century Piano Music
Authors: Robb, Hamish James Alexander
Advisors: Burnham, Scott
Agawu, Kofi
Contributors: Music Department
Keywords: imagined sound
musical embodiment
musical meaning
Subjects: Music
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: In this dissertation, I argue that the musical experiences, and thus meaning formations, of an embodier (listener, performer, analyst etc.) are shaped by three mutually influential factors of musical embodiment: the real sounds made by performers, the embodier's real or imagined bodily movements and states, and the embodier's imagined (supplemental) and/or filtered sounds. My conception of imagined, supplemental sound includes not just the internal mimicking of real sounds, but the supplemental sounds we "perform" internally (even when engaged in a sounding performance) in order to make sense of real sounds and render performances personally meaningful. I argue that our bodily engagements¬—as shaped by the real sounds performers make—in turn shape our imagined (supplemental) and/or filtered sounds. While my discussion centers on the modern-day embodier, I provide evidence throughout of significant resonances between my model and nineteenth-century ways of embodying piano music. Chapter 1 outlines basic mechanisms of musical embodiment, such as imagining the actions needed to produce sounds, and attributing intentionality to sonic forms in order to conceive of musical "objects" or "bodies" moving through "musical space." I also introduce my five "modes of embodiment." Each mode draws on a different type of implicit bodily knowledge, involves a fundamentally distinct type of bodily engagement, and entails a unique manner of imagining supplemental sound and/or of filtering sound. Chapters 2 and 3 center on the first mode of embodiment (the "fluidly traversing" mode), which is the focus of this project. Chapter 2 traces the historical and modern day concepts of the "singing" piano and of imagined, supplemental sound in piano performance and reception. The second half of the chapter introduces the concept of "techniques of illusion." These are performance techniques that shape an embodier's bodily engagements and imagined, supplemental sounds, and are particularly important in the first mode of embodiment, which involves embodying a fluid sonic "path." Chapter 3 presents examples of different "techniques of illusion" pianists commonly use to encourage embodiers to inhabit the first mode. Chapter 4 covers the remaining four modes of embodiment: the "tolling" mode; the "marking/striking" mode; the "containing" mode; and the "scintillating/kaleidoscopic" mode. Chapter 5 considers more complex embodied experiences, and chapter 6 offers further implications and conclusions.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Music

Files in This Item:
This content is embargoed until 2019-06-23. For more information contact the Mudd Manuscript Library.

Items in Dataspace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.