Musical Improvisation, Heidegger and the Liturgy - A Journey to the Heart of Hope

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This book locates musical improvisation within an ontological framework, which is both scientific and Heideggerian, and ultimately encompasses the whole Christian understanding of reality. Part One deals with historical and cultural issues surrounding musical improvisation. Part Two initiates the author’s philosophical and theological proposal that, from the time of foetal and infantile experience, every human person’s fundamental integration with reality is inseparable from improvisatory musicality. His argument is interdisciplinary, involving music history, critical musicology, 20th-century continental philosophy, ideas from infancy studies and music therapy, and finally ideas from a Christian theology which is both ecumenical and rooted in the Catholic tradition.


“[This book is an] informed and informative study of a musical interpretation, especially in a liturgical context. Insightful writings concerning music and metaphysics; music and proto or pre-natal existence; the improvisation and fundamental hope of “Dasein”; liturgy and Christian hope; and a great deal more fill the pages of this theological and in-depth interpretation which is an especially recommended resource for advanced scholars of music appreciation within a liturgical context.” – The Midwest Book Review “Dr. Love is working at the forefront of the interdisciplinary study of music-theology, and his book encompasses many of the salient features of the topic. His book is one of the few studies to look closely at the issue of musical improvisation, both historically and theoretically, and in that regard it will be of use to both historians of music and more theoretically orientated musicologists. In addition, the book’s overarching theological orientation provides a methodological framework with applications for theologians, as much as musicologists of liturgy, church music and ecclesiastical history….This book is testimony to his profound intellectual insight, and will no doubt become a central influence in music-theology.” – Dr. Bennett Zon, General Editor, Nineteenth-Century Music Review; Director, Post-Graduate Studies in Music, University of Durham

“…represents a significant advance on current conceptualisations of improvisation, and the ontological discussions of improvisation in relation to Christian theology are highly original, not least in the practical implications of a such a connection. The manuscript is of an exceptionally high standard. The breadth of the study in terms of the literature consulted and the competence evinced in the diverse disciplines broached, attest to the quality of the work. The prose style is of a consistently high standard, often poetic in beauty.” – Dr. Alastair Borthwick, Director of Studies, Department of Music, University of Hull

“Drawing on a vast interdisciplinary knowledge encompassing ethnomusicology, performance studies, contextual history, literary theory and liturgical theology, he re-positions improvisation from the periphery to the heart of liturgical and musical expression. His profile of Charles Tournemire provides a rich grounding for the ambitious theoretical scope of the discourse. This publication will be welcomed by the growing number of scholars revisiting the conceptual and practical world of improvisation, particularly in the performing arts and the social sciences, as well as those interested in interdisciplinary approaches to research.” – Dr. Helen Phelan, Course Director, MA Chant and Ritual Song, Irish World Music Centre, University of Limerick

“He offers one of the best cases for music-as-culture I have come across, as well as for Improvisation as a human Universal. I find these arguments very convincing. Love takes enormous philosophical risks while carrying his discussion across genetics, human culture, aesthetics, philosophy of being and meaning, misguided historical developments, and the continually complex difficulties encountered by the Church in making its practices relevant to contemporary society. There is sufficiently striking argument and material in this book to revive the most experienced scholars from lethargy and to lead new graduate students who come from a range of different fields to exciting interdisciplinary inquiries of their own. At the risk of sounding trite, Andrew Love’s book is a tour de force.” – Dr. Harold Fiske, University of Western Ontario

Table of Contents

Table of contents (main headings):
Foreword; Preface
Part I: Investigations in Musical Improvisation
1. Improvisation and Human Universals
2. Improvisation in the Modern West
3. Rewriting Improvisation: An Experiment in Demarginalising Discourse
4. Music and Metaphysics: Discovering the Hidden Heidegger
Part II: Musical Improvisation as the Place Where Being Speaks
5. Music as the Place where Being Speaks
6. Improvisation and the Fundamental Hope of ‘Dasein’
7. Improvisation and Christian Hope
Appendix: Heidegger in Theological Writing
Bibliography; Index

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