Musical composition and mystical spirituality

Inglis, Brian ORCID logoORCID: (2019) Musical composition and mystical spirituality. In: Enlivening Faith: Music, Spirituality and Christian Theology. Boyce-Tillman, June, Roberts, Stephen and Erricker, Jane, eds. Music and Spirituality, 9 . Peter Lang, Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Mein, New York, Wien, pp. 25-44. ISBN 9781788746205, e-ISBN 9781788746229, e-ISBN 9781788746212, e-ISBN 9781788746236. [Book Section] (doi:10.3726/b14571)

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Mystical and visionary states are often associated with sound and music, from the thoroughly multimedia visions of St Hildegard of Bingen (which reportedly gave rise to her chant compositions) to Margery Kempe’s auditory vision of heavenly melodies and sweet birdsong. As a composer and scholar I am drawn to those who have experienced visions consistently, and written them down systematically. From this starting point, here I examine compositional processes and outcomes of myself and a selection of composers from different times and places (Hildegard of Bingen, François Couperin, Arvo Pärt, Peter Maxwell Davies) through the lens of mystical spirituality. The theoretical frame for this is drawn from literature, in the traditions of both religious studies and musicology, by William James, Albert Blackwell, Jonathan Harvey and Michael Tippet. I interrogate this and other literature (referencing in passing Ivan Moody and Peter Bouteneff) to consider notions of mysticism, spiritual ecstasy, and its musical encoding, for which a semiotic methodology is employed.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts > Performing Arts > Music group
Item ID: 24997
Notes on copyright: This is an Accepted Manuscript that will has been published in Enlivening Faith: Music, Spirituality and Christian Theology edited by June Boyce-Tillman, Stephen Roberts and Jane Erricker in the series Music and Spirituality.
The original work can be found at:
© Peter Lang AG, 2019. All rights reserved
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Depositing User: Brian Inglis
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2018 14:39
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 18:55

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