MA Musicology Cardiff University 2009-2010
Schoenberg & Kandinsky: Music & Painting 1907-1914
This dissertation concerns the relationship between the composer Arnold Schoenberg and painter Wassily Kandinsky and raises questions of interpretation of the work of both in light of this relationship. Until 1911, they were unaware of one another and their work, despite it sharing a striking ideological parallel. Kandinsky recognised this on hearing a concert of Schoenberg’s music in January 1911, marking the beginning of a close friendship and short yet historically significant period of artistic dialogue. Chapter 1 investigates the modernist context in which this dialogue is located, and the expressionist ideals with which both were identified. Kandinsky is the focus of Chapter 2, which considers his treatise Concerning the Spiritual in Art (1911), in order to determine the reasoning behind his aesthetic ideology and its practical implementation through three of his most renowned paintings: Impression III: Concert, Improvisation 19: Blue Sound, and Composition VII. Chapter 3 is primarily concerned with Schoenberg’s ideological journey towards atonality, explored via Pierrot lunaire and Fünf Orchesterstüke: works that are rarely considered in this context. A limited selection of his paintings are also considered, and are evaluated in relation to the emancipation of dissonance. Finally, Chapter 4 seeks to examine the parallels between these two important artists and whether we can reinterpret their works through a contextual understanding of their relationship and beliefs, as well as revaluating the recurring aesthetic issues of representation and meaning that this investigation generates.
BMus Cardiff University 2006-2009
Sound-Colour Synaesthesia and Music
This dissertation examines the long and complex relationship between music and the Sound - Colour form of the neurological condition known as synaesthesia, drawing on the research of both medical and musical avenues of study. As a Sound - Colour synaesthete myself, I have always had a deep personal interest in this topic. Recent scientific and media investigation into the condition has prompted many new and interesting questions for further research, some of which I have aimed to highlight throughout the course of this dissertation. Chapter one focuses on the medical and psychological contexts of synaesthesia, and seeks to examine a history of links between music and colour. Chapter two discusses individual cases of synaesthesia during the nineteenth century to the present day, in particular looking at composers such as Aleksandr Skryabin and Michael Torke, and aims to investigate some of the aspects of their creativity in relation to their condition. The third chapter explores Olivier Messiaen’s Sound - Colour synaesthesia through a selection of orchestral, ensemble and piano works, and presents alternative interpretations of his works through the importance he placed on sound-colour relationships. Finally, chapter four considers the wider perspectives of synaesthesia in relation to performance, absolute pitch, music therapy, health care, and education. In culmination of this dissertation, it also suggests salient points that direct towards recommendations for further research.
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