Between Couch and Piano: Psychoanalysis, Music, Art and Neuroscience

Between Couch and Piano: Psychoanalysis, Music, Art and Neuroscience

Between Couch and Piano: Psychoanalysis, Music, Art and Neuroscience

Between Couch and Piano: Psychoanalysis, Music, Art and Neuroscience

Synopsis

'Between Couch and Piano' links well-established psychoanalytical ideas with historical and neurological theory to help us begin to understand from a psychoanalytic perspective some of the reasons behind music's ubiquity and power.

Excerpt

Gilbert Rose's book is full of fascinating and sophisticated insights about the musical experience. As a music theorist, composer, and listener, I have learned a lot from what he has written. Since my knowledge of psychoanalysis is rudimentary, I no doubt have a partially skewed view of his work. But this is inevitable: as Rose explains, each reader creates in his/her mind a unique version of a verbal text (more on that later). and so I write as a musician, reading this book and taking from it (and constructing out of its words and ideas) something of value to me.

Some parts of the book naturally speak to me more directly than others, and it is those about which I am writing. I am pleased to find many of Rose's ideas on communication, for example, paralleling my own. Furthermore, his centralizing of time in the musical experience certainly wins the warm approval of the author of a book called The Time of Music! I also find his explanations of the therapeutic powers of music to be fascinating.

Communication

In Chapter 3, Rose bravely tackles a challenging and problematic question: does music communicate? Are a composer's ideas actually in the music, and if so do they emerge through a performance in order to reach a listener? Does the listener hear what the composer has “said”?

In attempting to answer these difficult questions, we need to be aware (as Rose clearly is) of the distinctions between music as conceived by a composer, as represented in the product of the composer's activity (what music theorist Jean-Jacques Nattiez calls the “trace”), and as understood by a listener (Nattiez, 1990:10-

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