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Loop aesthetics: repetition in the work of Bernhard Lang

Dysers, C. (2019). Loop aesthetics: repetition in the work of Bernhard Lang. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


This dissertation considers the different types and effects of musical repetition in the oeuvre of Austrian composer Bernhard Lang (b. 1957). The study aims to develop an understanding of Lang’s ‘loop aesthetics’ in both analytical and philosophical terms. In that respect, the study seeks to contribute to the ongoing debates on the practices, aesthetics, analysis and philosophies of repetition in contemporary music, and, as such, to contribute to the emerging field of repetition studies. Drawing on recent scholarship from the fields of music theory, cognition, and psychology, as well as on post-structuralist philosophy, archival research, and interviews with the composer, the study addresses current debates about the experiences of musical repetition and develops new approaches to repetition as a concept in music-analytical discourse.

Repetition is traditionally thought of in terms of sameness, similarity, and stability. In most musical discourse, the phenomenon is commonly considered to indicate the mere re-iteration of a previously explored idea. To speak and think of musical repetition in such reductive terms, however, stands in conflict with the more permeable and fluid ways in which repeated objects appear to the listener in experience. This study takes a different view and argues that musical repetition is not a singular, but an inherently multifaceted phenomenon, which can embody many different shapes and forms, and engender a multitude of experiences. Concentrating primarily on the various types of displacement that can be effectuated by musical repetition in experience, the study argues repetition to be a space in which radical instabilities can occur.

Using Lang’s Monadologie IX: The Anatomy of Disaster (2010) as an analytical case-study, the thesis establishes that repetition can give rise to radical instability and displacement, and that it can do so in different ways and on different hierarchical planes. Finally, the study asserts Lang as a Deleuzian artist-philosopher, whose musical oeuvre and idiosyncratic loop aesthetics give rise to philosophical notions of non-identity and non-essentialism, multiplicity, and becoming.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Performing Arts > Music
Doctoral Theses
School of Communication & Creativity > School of Communication & Creativity Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Dysers thesis 2020 redacted.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
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