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Title: A cry of (little) death :a polyphonic account of mysticism, sex and self-dissolution
Authors: Brozzoni, Vera
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Sexual and mystical ecstasy can be linked to experiences of loss of self; they are thus instruments for an individual to reach a higher dimension through a process that encompasses body and mind. These ideas can also be expressed through music; Theogyny, the composition accompanying this writing, is an a cappella polyphonic piece delivered entirely by my voice to express a woman’s dissolving identity during a mystical sexual experience. I contend that a female voice sonically extended to the extremities of its range is the most appropriate instrument to reflect this. First of all I formulate a “theogonic hypothesis” that posits how the idea of God was born in mankind following its experience of sexual ecstasy, not of natural phenomena as commonly believed. I then examine the experience of loss of self and how it can lead to the union with God, mainly focusing on three instances: dismemberment, mystical ecstasy, sexual jouissance. I illustrate how the dissolved self can reach the divine dimension and will explain why mystical experiences necessarily need to come to an end. After these points are established, I explain why human voice is the best instrument to express jouissance, especially when expressed not in the melody but in the cry. I describe how human voice was traditionally both used to pray God and feared as a demonic power, then I concentrate on women’s voices and genderless, pansexual voices. In the third part I focus on my own work: after an overview of my musical aesthetics and career, I prove how the philosophical and musicological ideas expressed so far can be found in my music and will give an in-depth look at some of my most notable compositions; finally I describe the compositional and performance process of Theogyny. Just like Theogyny itself, this dissertation presents itself as a gradus, a progress towards a cathartic end.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Arts and Cultures

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