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Mimetic Transpositions: An Aesthetic Theory of Composition Linking Music and Speech

  • Author(s): Schnurr, Andrew Alan
  • Advisor(s): Krouse, Ian
  • et al.
Abstract

For centuries, the potential connections between music and speech have captivated the imagination of vast numbers of researchers, theorists, and musicians alike. My inquiry into speech-music connections is based on intuitive creative musical practice exploring common acoustic traits shared by both phenomena. My creative process as a composer involves transcriptions of recorded speech that depend on acoustic perceptual judgments of intonation and rhythm in speech melody. My analysis linking the two phenomena together is constructed philosophically, and by the mimetic transposition of speech through music composition, illuminating common ontological characteristics in speech and music. One of the goals in securing my thesis is to construct a model of understanding that illustrates this common connection set apart from denotative models of speech-music association such as the Baroque Doctrines of Affects that cemented a representational schema potentially detrimental to musical creativity. My evaluation puts forth speech-music linkage, illustrating their shared potential as forces of human imagination and as purveyors of ethos. This analysis illuminates how through their respective modes of composition, utilizing shared materials (of melody, and rhythm), both music and speech uniquely form and express affective tonalities that have deeper meaning and ontological force, going beyond denotation and semantic representation to the formation of unique mimetic expressions with the potential for human transfiguration, unlocking new potentials for feeling, and therefore, being. The best support for my theory is produced by examples of recorded oration expressed as music; speech transcribed as melody and rhythm, mimetically transposed, adapted, augmented, and recomposed into musical works, amplifying the ontological vehemence of the original speech melody.

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