Sounds of suffering : a creative response to human suffering and emotional pain in the form of a contemporary composition

Ghayem, Nina (2020-03)

Thesis (DPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2020.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This doctoral dissertation is intended as a contribution to the field of practice-based research in music, more specifically in the area of composition. It presents a study on the topic of human suffering in which theoretical and creative work are integrated so as to provide a view on the subject from the perspective of the researcher as composer. Throughout their history and in all cultures humans have been confronted by the phenomenon of pain and suffering as an integral part of life and have been dealing with it in various ways. This also applies to artists, who have responded to the phenomenon with the respective creative means at their disposal. For a twenty-first century composer the devices that were developed by composers in past centuries to represent or express pain and suffering are no longer viable. Therefore, to respond creatively to this phenomenon in a way that is contemporary, musically sensitive and stylistically appropriate, I explore the potential which the sounds of actual human voices expressing pain and suffering offer me for my compositions. The aim of the project, therefore, was to record and analyse the expressive quality of human voices in a state of suffering so as to understand their particular characteristics and then to exploit these characteristics for my creative work. For this purpose I undertook extensive fieldwork, during which I recorded vocal expressions of pain by people in a state of suffering, more specifically the expression of grief in the form of mourning at funerals conducted at public cemeteries. These sound samples were then analysed by means of SPEARsound analysis software. The results provided me with raw sound material for my creative work, which, in turn, led to the portfolio of compositions offered as part of this dissertation. Ultimately, the challenge was to find a theoretical basis on which to base the entire project and to integrate its various parts, i.e. cultural awareness, fieldwork, questions of compositional style, the possibilities offered by software and the actual creative work, into a coherent whole.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie doktorale proefskrif is bedoel as `n bydrae tot die veld van praktyk-gebaseerde navorsing in musiek, meer spesifiek tot die gebied van komposisie. Dit bied `n studie aan oor die onderwerp van menslike pyn en lyding, waarin teoretiese en kreatiewe werk geïntegreer word om `n blik op die onderwerp te verskaf vanuit die perspektief van die navorser as komponis. Deur die geskiedenis heen en in alle kulture is mense gekonfronteer met die verskynsel van pyn en lyding as `n onlosmaaklike deel van die lewe en het hulle op verskillende wyses daarop gereageer. Dit geld ook vir kunstenaars, wat op telkens verskillende maniere en met die onderskeie kreatiewe middele tot hul beskikking daarop geantwoord het. Vanuit die perspektief van `n een-en-twintigste-eeuse komponis het die middele wat deur komponiste in vroeëre eeue ontwikkel is om pyn en lyding uit te druk hul geldigheid verloor. Om dus kreatief op pyn en lyding te antwoord op `n wyse wat eietyds, musikaal sensitief en stilisties toepaslik is, ondersoek ek die potensiaal wat die stemme van mense in `n werklike toestand van pyn en lyding vir my skeppende werk inhou. Die doelwit van die projek was dus om die ekspressiewe kwaliteit van menslike stemme wat pyn en lyding uitdruk op te neem, te analiseer, die kenmerke daarvan te ondersoek en dan vir my kreatiewe werk te ontgin. Vir hierdie doel het ek uitgebreide veldwerk onderneem, waartydens ek die vokale uitdrukking van pyn en lyding deur mense by openbare begrafnisse opgeneem het. Hierdie klankmonsters is dan met behulp van SPEAR sagteware ontleed. Die resultate het klankmateriaal tot my beskikking gestel wat op sy beurt tot die kreatiewe werk gelei het wat ek as komposisieportefeulje by hierdie proefskrif insluit. In die laaste instansie was die uitdaging om `n teoretiese grondslag vir die projek as geheel te vind en waarby die verskillende dele, naamlik kulturele bewustheid, veldwerk, kwessies van komposisiestyl, die potensiaal van sagteware en die uiteindelike kreatiewe werk, uiteindelik tot `n koherente geheel geïntegreer kan word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/107911
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