What is Psychoanalytic Musicology?

Psychoanalytic Musicology is the study of music and musicians using theories and practices of psychoanalytic theories and philosophies stemming from Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and their followers. Although they have been relatively musical, neither did Freud nor Jung include music in their theoretical studies. The subsequent generation of psychoanalysts, including Theodor Reik, Jacques Lacan, Donald Winnicott, Melanie Klein, Anna Freud and Julia Kristeva, have only briefly mentioned music in their larger oeuvres. This discursive lacunae has thus been left open until the late 1980s when the intersections between Music and Modern Languages studies took place. Prominent themes usually revolve around subjectivity, desire, meaning and the voice. Listed below are a dozen contributions mostly from Anglophone writers.

Stuart Feder, Richard L. Karmel and George H. Pollock, Psychoanalytic Explorations in Music. Madison: International Universities Press, two volumes, 1990 and 1993.

Andre Michel, Psychanalyse freudienne du fait musique: de l’affect a l’acouee. Paris: Gentilly, 1991.

David Schwarz, Listening Subject: Music, Psychoanalysis, Culture. Durham: Duke University Press, 1997.

Sebastian Leikert, Die vergessene Kunst: Der Orpheusmythos und die Psychoanalyse der Musik. Giessen: Psychosozial Verlag, 2005.

David Schwarz, Listening Awry: Music and Alterity in German Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006.

Richard Middleton, Voicing the Popular: On the Subjects of Popular Music. London and New York: Routledge, 2006.

Sebastian Leikert, Den Spiegel durchqueren: Die kinetische Semantik in Musik und Psychoanalyse. Giessen: Psychosozial Verlag, 2008.

Bruno Florence, Musique, Semiotique et Pulsion. Paris: L’Harmattan, 2008.

Francois Regnault, Psychoanalysis and Music, The Symptom 11, 2010.

Freya Jarman, Queer Voices: Technologies, Vocalities, and the Musical Flaw. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011

Sebastian Leikert, Schonheit und Konflikt: Umrisse einer allgemeinen psychoanalytischen Asthetik. Giessen: Psychosozial Verlag, 2012.

J.P.E. Harper-Scott, The Quilting Points of Musical Modernism: Revolution, Reaction, and William Walton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Kenneth M. Smith, Skryabin, Philosophy and the Music of Desire. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2013.


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