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Towards an Aesthetics of the (in)formel: Time, Space and the Dialectical Image in the Music of Varèse, Feldman and Xenakis

DE-HENAU, JORIS,ANDRE,ODIEL (2015) Towards an Aesthetics of the (in)formel: Time, Space and the Dialectical Image in the Music of Varèse, Feldman and Xenakis. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis addresses the issue of the modernist musical artwork, specifically in terms of the spatialization of musical time, in aesthetic and music-analytic terms. Firstly, it focuses on the notion of musique informelle as it was expounded in Adorno’s essay ‘Vers une musique informelle,’ (1961) and its place in Gianmario Borio’s elaboration of this in terms of an aesthetics of the informel. Secondly, it proposes a further expansion of these aesthetics via a double strategy: a comparative reading of Walter Benjamin’s critique of philosophies of time (including the work of Henri Bergson), language and objects, and furthermore a reconceptualization of both Adorno’s and Borio’s aesthetics in terms of a new theory of the object (as sound-object) in light of a new reading strategy. This reading is based on Walter Benjamin’s notion of the dialectical image, which proposes a new form of philosophical interpretation. The theorizations of the sound-object and the dialectical image furnish a basis for a re-conceptalization of the (in)formel, allowing for the interpretative reading of the music of three composers in particular: Edgard Varèse, Morton Feldman and Iannis Xenakis. Particularly, the study of a number of their works, including Intégrales (Varèse), On Time and the Instrumental Factor and Words and Music (Feldman), and Duel (Xenakis), reveals what Adorno terms their (truth) content, in their mediation of rationalization and intuition. Finally, it is argued that these modernist works can in turn bring new insights into Adorno’s aesthetics of the modernist work of art.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Walter Benjamin, Theodor W. Adorno, Edgard Varèse, Morton Feldman, Iannis Xenakis, György Ligeti, Music Aesthetics, art informel, musique informelle, dialectical image, spatialization, musical time
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Music, Department of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:02 Dec 2015 14:30

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