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Dissertation Defense

In this dissertation, I explore how the notational content of the score document can be a

catalyst for the formation of a performer’s subjecthood. Verbal notation is an extreme example of

a kind of western art music composition that allows for subject formation. In verbally notated

scores, Cartesian Mind/body binary performers become practitioners, ones that assume the roles

of listener, performer, and audience, often simultaneously. When performers become practitioners,

the subjecthood so formed repairs the damage of the Cartesian Mind/body binary laced into

musical training. Repair here moves well beyond Elizabeth Spelman’s definition of repair (from

her book Repair (2002)) as the process of returning something back toward its original function.

Rather a performer’s move into a composer’s or audience member’s role allows them to realize

selfhood in an entirely different manner than in conventionally notated scores. The fluidity of and

focus on roles form the first type of score facilitated selfhood, a repaired, formerly Cartesian,

performer. The second type of selfhood, a practitioner-self, is formed through the perspective of

embodied self-awareness. Both of these selfhoods can be created entirely through the process of

engaging with verbally notated scores. I focus my analysis on two verbally notated works—

Pauline Oliveros’s Breaking Boundaries (1996) and Jennifer Walshe’s THIS IS WHY PEOPLE

O.D. ON PILLS (2004). I show how a repaired performer is constructed by these scores through

an analysis of listening—as an embodied process of attention, interpretation, and understanding—

and time— as a recognized labor and embodiment of the present, the past, and the future. I show

how a practitioner is formed through exploration of notational components that facilitate

awareness through models of attention. Through these two analyses of self, I demonstrate how

verbal notation can facilitate a performing person’s repair and self-formation.