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Plenary Session Presentation: Meditation, Mystique, and Mignon: Tracing Practices of Interiority in Music

AMS Allegheny Chapter: Cleveland State University

Presenting in conjunction with Woodrow Steinken [Berg] (University of Pittsburgh) and Codee Spinner [Schubert/Schumman]  (University of Pittsburgh)

Musical interiority is an enigmatic concept. An idea of inner space or inward nature, it is a key component in theories of absolute music, musical aesthetics, music composition, and performance. When sound as music generates a sense of interiority in listeners by transporting, transforming, or transcending its boundaries, it gains the capacity for a genuine, active art/human experience. What happens, then, when interiority is generated spuriously? Or when musical interiority functions to create the allure of a crafted persona? What happens when performers rather than composers generate interiority? The consequences of these generated interiorities have shaped how we as musicologists discuss, think about, and listen to music.

In this plenary session, we highlight how ideas of interiority play a distinctive role in shaping musicological discourse, compositional and performance practices, and listening techniques. Starting with Schubert and Schumman’s setting of Goethe’s text “Kennst du das Land” in critical dialogue with Lacan’s theories of order and the concepts of interiority generated from facets of Mignon, the singer of the text. Then examining interiority in Alban Berg’s Lyric Suite. Finally examining interiority’s fragmented legacy in late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries through the works of Pauline Oliveros, Stephon Montague, and Jennifer Walshe.