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Music as Action


Anders Tykesson


Music as Action. Analysis, Musical Interpretation and Performance. With a Study of Anders Eliasson’s Quartetto d‘Archi

Dissertation in Musical Performance and Interpretation, 2009.


The aim of the dissertation is to illustrate the potential musical analysis has in the development of artistic questions with regard to the interpretation and performance of western art music. The analyses of the dissertation focus on Quartetto d’Archi, by the Swedish composer Anders Eliasson, and discussions of music as action, music as emotional expression, music as motion and music as mimesis are based on the four movements of this string quartet. The methods which are used are the very ones the project examines, namely the analysis of and the reflection on the musical work.

The author has attempted to gain a deeper knowledge of the work and its possible interpretations by means of a comparative study of other music and literature within the theory of music and within philosophical think- ing. The hermeneutics of Hans–Georg Gadamer and Paul Ricoeur are significant to the thesis. For example, the author claims that Ricoeur’s concept of interpreta- tion, in which understanding interacts with explanation, and where the inter- preter “appropriates” the text, could be applied to musical interpretation. Refer- ences in music, or in artworks in general, to phenomena, actions and concepts may be explained through the concept of mimesis. Within the doctoral project, the author has worked with chamber ensembles in the form of seminars at the Academy of Music and Drama, the University of Gothenburg.

One of the central claims of the thesis is that the musical work opens up to the possibilities of interpretation through its own way of being, in the way it expresses itself in its structures. Questions of the significance of music must be posed to the musical work itself, which answers through different categories of interpretation; it is by means of these categories of interpretation that the meaning and signifi- cance of a musical work can be interpreted. Four categories are presented: proces- sual interpretation, narrative interpretation, characterial interpretation and emo- tional interpretation.

Keywords: musical analysis, musical gestures, musical interpretation and performance, musical meaning, musical narrative, music theory, music as emotional expression, music as action, music as motion, music as mimesis, music and lan- guage, musical hermeneutics, musical phenomenology, musical semiotics, artistic research, Anders Eliasson, Hans-Heinrich Eggebrecht, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Robert Hatten, Ernst Kurth, Paul Ricoeur, Bo Wallner.

This is thesis no 12 in the ArtMonitor dissertation series.

ISBN: 978-91-977757-7-9


This dissertation is published in Swedish with an English summary.

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The dissertation is e-published

The dissertaion is e-published in GUPEA (Göteborgs universitets publikationer - Elektroniskt Arkiv). Download the dissertation

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