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Portfolio of compositions with commentary

Portfolio of compositions with commentary
Portfolio of compositions with commentary
The portfolio of compositions (part one) offers a selection of the composer’s most significant contributions to the body of creative human knowledge during four years of PhD study. The accompanying commentary (part two) has two objectives:

1. Exposition of the principal technical apparatus and aesthetic interests of the portfolio.

2. Investigation into the nature of poietic Ideas, music’s capacity to exemplify or embody Ideas, the analogising tendency in aesthetic experience and the impact upon the Idea of factors both intrinsic (technical, organological) and extrinsic (social and interpersonal) to the work. The commentary addresses compositional problems relating to large- and small-scale organisation and the perceptibility and expressive import of such features of a work, the problem of relating present work to past cultural achievements in the contemporary capitalist and pluralist Western world, and the problem of the social and educational situations that lead to composers’ loss of status as cultural assets and the marginalisation of the Idea.

The thesis of the commentary is largely ‘anti-abstractionist’. It proposes that, through the analogising experience, music can express Ideas, not merely ‘abstract’, temporal geometric relations, but experiential, social and linguistic Ideas. These Ideas can be generated within the material organisation of a work, through cultural resonances associated with musical borrowings, or through the focusing influence of text. Contingent circumstances can serve to limit an Idea or to render it more precise. The commentary also argues that certain vicious circles in music-making and music education serve to damage musical culture, and suggests some causes for these phenomena.

A Philosophical Introduction surveys attitudes and theories towards the Idea and musical expression and meaning; Arnold Schoenberg, Ferruccio Busoni, Arthur Schopenhauer, the claims of the logical positivists and Ludwig Wittgenstein, Milton Babbitt and Benjamin Boretz, the expression theories of Nelson Goodman and Jerrold Levinson and the relationship between music and physical movement all feature. Chapter One discusses the main technical apparatus of the composer, and the importance of Janusian thinking, harmonic architecture, canon, microtonality and spectralism. Chapter Two discusses musical borrowings and the significance of the past for the creative artist. Chapter Three discusses text as a powerful ‘designator’ (Kramer) of metaphorical meaning in music and possible text-music isomorphisms. Chapter Four discusses factors influencing composerperformer- listener interaction. A Preface and Afterword offer an anecdotal conte by the languages of contemporary art music.xt to this body of research and adumbrate future pathways for the composer. Together, the portfolio and commentary offer a conceptual framework for understanding 1. The nature and communication of poetic Ideas through music, and 2. The difficulties of audience reception engendered
Holloway, George
12cbc530-ff87-487b-b829-385b9ce61c8f
Holloway, George
12cbc530-ff87-487b-b829-385b9ce61c8f
Finnissy, Michael
69c241dc-e0d5-43c6-a83c-fcd5ecd4a728
Gordon, Michael Zev
e02ac3e7-ba40-43b2-9a74-33cd3352516f

Holloway, George (2011) Portfolio of compositions with commentary. University of Southampton, Faculty of Humanities, Doctoral Thesis, 392pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

The portfolio of compositions (part one) offers a selection of the composer’s most significant contributions to the body of creative human knowledge during four years of PhD study. The accompanying commentary (part two) has two objectives:

1. Exposition of the principal technical apparatus and aesthetic interests of the portfolio.

2. Investigation into the nature of poietic Ideas, music’s capacity to exemplify or embody Ideas, the analogising tendency in aesthetic experience and the impact upon the Idea of factors both intrinsic (technical, organological) and extrinsic (social and interpersonal) to the work. The commentary addresses compositional problems relating to large- and small-scale organisation and the perceptibility and expressive import of such features of a work, the problem of relating present work to past cultural achievements in the contemporary capitalist and pluralist Western world, and the problem of the social and educational situations that lead to composers’ loss of status as cultural assets and the marginalisation of the Idea.

The thesis of the commentary is largely ‘anti-abstractionist’. It proposes that, through the analogising experience, music can express Ideas, not merely ‘abstract’, temporal geometric relations, but experiential, social and linguistic Ideas. These Ideas can be generated within the material organisation of a work, through cultural resonances associated with musical borrowings, or through the focusing influence of text. Contingent circumstances can serve to limit an Idea or to render it more precise. The commentary also argues that certain vicious circles in music-making and music education serve to damage musical culture, and suggests some causes for these phenomena.

A Philosophical Introduction surveys attitudes and theories towards the Idea and musical expression and meaning; Arnold Schoenberg, Ferruccio Busoni, Arthur Schopenhauer, the claims of the logical positivists and Ludwig Wittgenstein, Milton Babbitt and Benjamin Boretz, the expression theories of Nelson Goodman and Jerrold Levinson and the relationship between music and physical movement all feature. Chapter One discusses the main technical apparatus of the composer, and the importance of Janusian thinking, harmonic architecture, canon, microtonality and spectralism. Chapter Two discusses musical borrowings and the significance of the past for the creative artist. Chapter Three discusses text as a powerful ‘designator’ (Kramer) of metaphorical meaning in music and possible text-music isomorphisms. Chapter Four discusses factors influencing composerperformer- listener interaction. A Preface and Afterword offer an anecdotal conte by the languages of contemporary art music.xt to this body of research and adumbrate future pathways for the composer. Together, the portfolio and commentary offer a conceptual framework for understanding 1. The nature and communication of poetic Ideas through music, and 2. The difficulties of audience reception engendered

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More information

Published date: December 2011
Organisations: University of Southampton, Music

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 374740
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/374740
PURE UUID: 7e8897b1-de1d-4147-a5d3-53a7fde7cd8f

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 14 Sep 2015 09:44
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 21:23

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Contributors

Author: George Holloway
Thesis advisor: Michael Finnissy
Thesis advisor: Michael Zev Gordon

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