When theories of psychology and composition intersect : a case study of Schoenberg, Dutilleux, and Lansky
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Although music had been understood for centuries to affect and even express certain psychological states, the method of observation and study essential to the evolving field of psychology and neuroscience in the twentieth century ushered in a profoundly different approach to considering the sense of self, the world, and creativity. Consequently, knowledge about psychology appears to have affected creative activities. It then follows that, as the discipline of psychology--made manifest specifically in cognition and memory--evolved in Western society, its morphing theories flavored the perspectives of musicians in their craft. The objective of this thesis is to examine the effects of psychology on three prominent twentieth-century composers in the context of one musical work by each: Six Little Piano Pieces, Op. 19 (1911) of Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951), Metaboles (1964) by Henri Dutilleux (1916-2013), and the chatter series (1985-1988) of Paul Lansky (born 1944). These compositions serve as successive representations of psychological influence, in which it becomes apparent that societal views of psychology can play a subtle but powerful and reflexive part in music creation. Each work was composed for a different instrumental medium and represents a separate national tradition. In essence, I am proposing a new kind of case study, in which the composition of art music can be evaluated as a fulfillment of creators who are interacting to some degree with their own personal knowledge of contemporaneous psychology, whether explicitly or implicitly.
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