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Music, Mind and the Serious Zappa Volgsten, Ulrik.
Kompendiet, Gothenburg, Sweden
ISBN: 91-7265-020-6
Pages: 250
Language: English Category: About


From: "Johan Wikberg" <>
 This is a Ph. D. assertation in musicology from the University of Stockholm, 1999 - it was up for oral defense today, December 16. It's in three parts, and the third part (some 60 pages) has to do with Zappa: there, the author applies the methods put forward in the first two parts to some of Zappa's "serious" music, particularily "Sinister Footwear" (especially the third movement) and the piano introduction to "Little House I Used to Live in". Yours truly has helped the author with an article, and is thanked in the preamble. :)

Here's the abstract, from their web site (


 This dissertation argues that music is always ideological. For this thesis two lines of argument are given. The first states that music is always ideological because it requires verbal discourses about itself. The second line of argument states that music is always ideological because it influences the listener affectively.

 That language is necessary for talk about music is trivial. The point is rather that talk about music is necessary for auditive behaviour to turn into complex cultural artefacts. Without language humans would have no more music than birds, whales or duetting apes.

 At the other extreme, musical experiences are affective in nature. To have a musical experience is to experience an affective unfolding through time. Affect (as distinguished from the emotions) refers to the amodal properties of perception - such as intensity, shape, rhythm - and lies at the heart of human communication. With its roots in early mother-infant interaction, affective communication is inherently social. Together with discourses about music, the affective properties of musical experiences makes music into an extremely subtle, and thereby efficient, ideological manipulator in various types of social contexts.

 Finally, the theoretical conclusions reached will be exemplified by introducing a virtual listener, the various facets of whose listening experiences are captured by different analytical methods and listening reports as applied to some of the "serious" music by Frank Zappa. Central for the explanation of these listening experiences are the "passions," that is, the affects, moods and emotions that the music evokes in the listener, or that the listener takes the music to express.

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