PhD Touizrar Mohamed

120200 €

Sonic luminosity: Transmedial contour, and the narrative place of ecology in orchestral depictions of sunlight

Tieteellinen tutkimus / siihen pohjautuva työ | Nelivuotinen

For centuries, composers of Western orchestral music have created luminous depictions so compelling that they can be experienced by listeners as if music has become light. However, depictions of ‘sonic luminosity’ have received limited attention from musicologists who fail to adequately address the obvious and perplexing question: how can music be heard as depicting light? Challenging prevalent modes of musical signification, this project privileges corporeality and the integral relationship between listener and affective sonic environment. Drawing together methods derived from musicology, cognitive science, human geography, and ecocritical narratology, this project: (1) argues that the affective underpinnings of human cognition play a decisive role in hearing music as light, (2) critically examines orchestral works that claim to depict light, highlighting the immanent capacity for orchestral sonority to realize ecological narratives, and (3) proposes an expanded typology of luminous depiction. Examining both staged (opera, ballet) and symphonic works, data is collected and synthesized across several domains and sources including: (1) score and performance analysis of a wide range of works; and (2) the application of an interdisciplinary body of theoretical knowledge to interpret the data. Analytic results produce important new knowledge concerning the contoured spatial-temporal-intensive patterning of orchestral sonority, attesting to the direct affectivity and narrative capacity of music in inter- and transmedial experience. Secondly, localizing orchestral sonority within an instantiated narrative of ‘place’ demonstrates the important role that culture plays in promoting ecological awareness. This project is of special relevance for Finnish orchestral music, in which depictions of light are not only frequent but perhaps exceptionally prominent. Therefore, the project makes a novel and significant contribution to Finnish culture.