Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    Active participation in the emergence of musical phenomena: a commentary and guide
    Bignell, Barry ( 1994)
    It is intended that this work be used by students of music, and specifically, by students of conducting. For that reason, it is both epistemological commentary and developmental guide. Part A of the study identifies a perceived deficiency of artistic feeling in contemporary musical life. It argues that human consciousness is a continuum which, as it evolves, develops modes of thinking which it believes to be appropriate for human existence in the world at this time, and further, that the history of humankind is, at the same time, a contraction of consciousness rather than, as is commonly thought to be the case, an expansion. The commentary argues, correlatively, that in seeking freedom from dependence, consciousness has not only developed thinking which it believes to be applicable to all human endeavour, but has unwittingly accommodated modes of thinking which are singularly inappropriate for the creation of artistic as distinct from acoustic phenomena. The discussion centres around the cognitive confusion in formal education and in musical life generally, a situation which, it is contended, has grown out of failure firstly, to recognise the abovementioned cognitive distinction, and secondly, to formulate epistemological questions in a manner which might lead to the explication of musical knowing, or that which enables us to be musical prior to any speculation about what music is. Part B of the study, which grew out of a period of phenomenological research, takes the form of a corrective to the hidden presupposition that musical artistry is an expression of self dependent on unconscious inspiration rather than a liberation of potentially perfect, and therefore, objective tone-forms, whose actualization in sound is reliant on conscious acts of imagination leading to intuition. For musical purposes, the retrieval of this lost but essential mode of thinking is possible only through the acknowledgment of a more capacious, qualitative concept of knowing, and in the systematic education of previously neglected inner faculties. As a method, Part B of the study is an experiential response to the questions, 'How does a musician know a musical tone?' and, 'Can this knowledge be drawn on to enhance performance?'