Browsing Theses and Dissertations by Subject "Uncanny"
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Brahms and The UncannyThis dissertation explores the musical uncanny in the piano chamber music of Johannes Brahms. Both Jentsch and Freud explored the notion of das unheimliche, though their definitions are slightly different. Jentsch’s definition emphasizes the emergence of uncertainty (“intellectual uncertainty”), claiming “the emergence of sensations of uncertainty is quite natural, and one’s lack of orientation will then easily be able to take on the shading of the uncanny (Jentsch, 1906: 4). Freud, on the other hand, defines the uncanny as “that class of the terrifying which leads back to something long known to us, once very familiar” (Freud, 1919: 2). The study of the uncanny has fascinated scholars in fields “from the humanities, through architecture, queer studies, and postcolonial studies, to sociology and urban studies” (Collins and Jervis, 2008: 1). This dissertation contributes to such interdisciplinary discourse by discussing the uncanny in the music of Brahms. Several scholars, such as Cohn, Klein, Smith, Kramer, Petri, Dolan, Cherlin, and Venn, have contributed to the topic of the uncanny in music. Signifiers for the uncanny in music include the use of hexatonic poles (Cohn, 2004: 287), chromatic passages, the Neapolitan, and signifiers related to ombra (Klein 2005: 80). Concerning Brahms, Smith mentions the unheimlich E naturals in his analysis of the Piano Quartet in C minor, but neither Smith nor any others listed above fully develop the idea of the unheimlich nor frame it in a hermeneutical sense. This dissertation begins by defining the uncanny both in and out of music (Chapter 1), then undertakes a general survey of the uncanny in Brahms’s piano chamber music to establish it as a topic in his music (Chapter 2). The remaining chapters consist of three case studies (Violin Sonata in D minor, Piano Quartet in G minor, and Piano Quintet in F minor). To support my analyses, I use Hepokoski and Darcy’s Sonata Theory, Schenkerian Analysis, Lacan’s model of subjectivity, and Derrida’s notion of hauntology. Using these methodologies reveals how Brahms’s Violin Sonata in D Minor is haunted by musical ghosts (Chapter 3). Lacan’s notion of the symptom and the musical déjà vu in analysis of the Piano Quartet in G Minor (Chapter 4) points to a musical persona experiencing a musical narrative with troubling repetitions of material and uncertain pathways. Hauntology and the previous concepts come together in an analysis of the Piano Quintet in F Minor (Chapter 5), showing how the uncanny makes time come out of joint: the Lacanian notion that a symptom comes not from the past but from the future. The music is haunted by its future from its first phrase. The dissertation concludes with a brief indication of future research on the uncanny in Brahms’s music.