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Understanding Michael Pisaro’s Solo Piano Music through Alain Badiou’s theory of the Event

Alghanem, Qais B A M S M (2019) Understanding Michael Pisaro’s Solo Piano Music through Alain Badiou’s theory of the Event. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Pi (1-2594) for piano.zip - Examined Content
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Abstract

This thesis focuses on the works of the composer Michael Pisaro and their connection with the concept of truth as outlined by the philosopher Alain Badiou (Being and Event, 1988). The main concern of this research is with the relation between silence, Pisaro’s piano music, and Badiou’s theory of the event. The thesis argues that Badiou’s faithful subject can be mapped onto the performer’s faithful interpretation of Pisaro’s composition, and involves the performance of many of Piasro’s piano works: fields have ears (1), Les Jours, Mon Aubépine, floating, drifting, C. Wolff, half-sleep beings, time, presence, movement, pi (1-2594), Fade, distance (1) and Akasa. The thesis argues, taking Badiou’s and Pisaro’s arguments through to their logical (if sometimes seemingly extreme) conclusions, that it is in the performance (and recording) of these pieces that the research ‘proper’ of the thesis rests. I begin with a discussion of Pisaro’s encounter with the music of John Cage – one of the most famous and leading experimental composers – and the influence it had on Pisaro in terms of using silence as a contingent part of his music. Pisaro’s compositions reveal a kind of respect for silence; silent moments reflect an openness to the world of truth, which is expressed in the form of incalculable events. As such, Pisaro’s encounter with Cage is conceived as a sort of truth process, in the terms Alain Badiou describes. It is not a coincidence that Badiou is, alongside Cage, one of the seminal influences on Pisaro, and the relationship of Pisaro’s compositional work to Badiou’s thought is a central aspect of the written portion of the thesis. Through employing Badiou’s philosophy, this research argues that, though representation and its entire pursuit of beauty in art may be regarded as being at the outset of artistic truth procedures, representation in and of itself is not and cannot be integral to a truth procedure. The thesis concludes that to accept that Badiou’s philosophy represents a profound and significant influence on Pisaro’s music means that the performer must take, almost dogmatically, a faithful attitude to Pisaro’s scores. Furthermore, it demonstrates that by understanding Pisaro’s music through Badiou’s theory of the event, new events (in the form of silences) intervene in performance situations, keeping in mind that the performer can only act faithfully on the basis of the demands of Pisaro’s scores, and thus cannot ‘force’ silence to produce truth, but can only act in the faith that that will have happened.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Michael Pisaro, Alain Badiou, experimental music, the silence, the event, the truth, the subject, fidelity.
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Music (Leeds)
Depositing User: Mr Q B A M S M ALGHANEM
Date Deposited: 01 May 2019 10:57
Last Modified: 01 May 2019 10:57
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/23754

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