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A psychoanalytical study of self-learning in music composition

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posted on 23.02.2017, 04:21 by Lavan, Daniel
This thesis approaches self-learning in music composition from a psychoanalytic (PA) perspective, specifically with reference to the work of the French theorists Julia Kristeva and Jacques Lacan. These theorists focus upon the examination of the subjective experience of self-learning. This theoretical underpinning was found to be best suited to revealing hidden aspects of subjectivity. Since the experience of self-learning addressed by the thesis is the candidates, the methodology autoethnographical, and within this context there is an adaptation of PA theory to describe and analyze an electroacoustic composition written several several years ago. The compositional aspects were selflearnt. This piece has received recognition from listeners and professionals at universities, at an exhibition and on websites. In adapting French psychoanalytic theory to approaching the question of how an autodidact could have generated this piece without formal instruction, the theoretical approach selected was difficult but promised to approach the notion of subjectivity in self-learning from an original perspective. Thus, due to the unusual nature of this approach, it became necessary to progressively outline and explain the relevant aspects of the theory, having in mind an intelligent reader who is not necessarily familiar with PA theory. Throughout there is a careful balance at key points in the exposition: between PA theory and self-learning; between PA theory and music perception and practice; and between the theory and the autoethnographic context of the thesis. These linkages are original, i.e. proposed and developed by the candidate.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Jane Elizabeth Southcott

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre



Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Education