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Title:An exploration of verbal description and reflection as a means of exploring how musical meanings are shaped and understood in light of theories of Thomas Clifton and Michael Parsons
Author(s):Stubley, Eleanor Victoria
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Music
Abstract:Building on the phenomenological assertion that meanings shaped in experience may be explored through description and reflection, the purpose of this study was to explore to what extent differences in descriptive and verbal responses to music may be used to interpret differences in the ways in which musical meanings are shaped in experience and understood through reflection.
Sixty-seven subjects having varied musical backgrounds were asked to describe six musical selections representing three contrasting musical styles. Selections were repeated so that the effects of repetition could be explored. Reflection at the end of each selection was encouraged through a series of open-ended questions focusing on significance, form, style, thwarted expectations, the composer's motivations, and aesthetic judgements. Follow-up interviews were conducted with nine subjects to study further the effects of repetition. Analysis of descriptive responses was guided by Thomas Clifton's phenomenological account of the musical experience. Michael Parsons' cognitive developmental account of aesthetic understanding in the visual arts guided analysis of reflective responses.
Descriptive responses were found an effective means of identifying differences across subjects in terms of the temporal and spatial dimensions of the musical experience, the significance attached to change, and the role Clifton's six musical essences (colour, movement, gesture, form, play, and feeling) play in the musical experience. Reflective responses distinguished the general developmental factors underlying Parsons' five stages of aesthetic understanding.
Common relationships between descriptive and reflective responses suggested that differences in the ways musical meanings are shaped in experience and understood through reflection need to be evaluated along two distinct, but related, continua. The musical continuum considers ability to differentiate and respond to the development of musical gestures within the context of a whole. The reflective continuum considers general psychological achievements which enable musical experiences to be shaped within a shared social context having its own traditions and conventions. Differences in the complexity of musical selections and the types of musical experiences stimulated by different musical styles prevented identification of a definitive interpretative framework detailing distinct stages of understanding similar to those proposed by Parsons' developmental account of aesthetic understanding in the visual arts.
Issue Date:1989
Rights Information:Copyright 1989 Stubley, Eleanor Victoria
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI8924949
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI8924949

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