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Redefining coherence: 
interaction and experience 
in new music, 1985–1995

Hutchinson, Mark Aled (2012) Redefining coherence: 
interaction and experience 
in new music, 1985–1995. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This thesis presents an analytical exploration of a number of works from 1985 to 1995, many of which have not previously received detailed attention. Although they stem from quite varied stylistic and aesthetic backgrounds, all these pieces are situated in a particular position within the tradition of Western art music: they show an approach which is neither ‘avant-garde’ in its commitment to continual formal and technical novelty, nor clearly associated with any other existing compositional school. Instead, they engage with a diverse range of models, both musical and external; intra-musical connections range from the legacy of the broader Classical and Romantic common-practice tradition to the varied timbral and formal developments of the twentieth-century avant-garde, whilst extra-musical connections seem almost endless, encompassing fields from art to astronomy, literature to horticulture. Alongside this stylistic and referential plurality, they display an often seemingly intuitive approach towards structure and system, with their most striking musical effects often arising out of layered, non-hierarchical interactions between different materials and processes. As such, they present clear challenges to traditional conceptions of analysis, which are often based around the systematic generation of clear (albeit often very complex) organisational structures. It is argued that this music, in spite of these challenges, displays a striking level of expressive and aural coherence; conventional ways of understanding this term – whether they be based around unity of material or form or process – need to be redefined to take this into account. Chosen works are approached by way of a ‘patchwork’ of different perspectives and techniques: the core of the thesis is a series of four case studies which connect narratives of listener experience with analytical and contextual detail, making particular use of the clarifying potential of metaphor. These close readings are interleaved with chapters which consider the wider challenges and implications for the study of this repertoire, drawing upon a number of strands in contemporary musicological and philosophical thought.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: music, contemporary, analysis, pluralism, post-structuralism, philosophy, context, metaphor, form, perception, experience
Academic Units: The University of York > Music (York)
Depositing User: Mr Mark Hutchinson
Date Deposited: 01 Aug 2012 10:51
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:49
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2636

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