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Approaches to Music in Modern Theology

Lynch, Danielle Anne (2015) Approaches to Music in Modern Theology. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This thesis contends that music is a theologically significant human experience. It uses Gordon Lynch’s definition of theology as “the process of seeking normative answers to questions of truth, goodness, evil, suffering, redemption, and beauty in the context of particular social and cultural situations.” It draws from theologies of popular culture an emphasis on the embodied, social and contextual nature of musical experience, and treats music as event rather than object. The insights from an approach to popular music are applied to a study of classical music. Music is considered as more than abstract form, in general concept or as a written score, but in relation to particular works and contexts, and, most importantly, in relation to a human subject. Music is considered to be sacramental rather than sacred in this thesis, and all music, not only religious music, is considered to be a means of revealing the invisible God, as it is the nature of music rather than its quality or special qualities that allows it to be sacramental. It argues that music suspends the boundary between the human subject and the divine object, and in this way allows for experience of the transcendence of God. Three case studies of eras of Western classical music form the second part of the thesis, and demonstrate the differing relation between embodiment and musical form in each era. The Requiem is a common theme, as it shows the progression of this relationship. It is a liminal form, dealing with the most liminal of subjects, life and death, in the modern era through the most liminal musical technique, silence. Methodologically, this thesis brings into dialogue theology, musicology and composers’ own writing. It proposes that the key to interpreting music theologically is an understanding of the relationship between embodiment and musical form.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: theology music transcendence sacred revelation
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Humanities (Leeds) > School of Theology & Religious Studies (Leeds)
Depositing User: Danielle Anne Lynch
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2015 12:56
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2015 12:56
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/10698

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