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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Revisiting Dionysus : Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault DiPasquale, Steven Dean


This thesis challenges the traditional, Cartesian understanding of musical performance through a phenomenological investigation of aural experience. Whereas conventional approaches to musical performance prescribe separating 'work' from 'event' in order to ascertain musical meaning, we seek to reveal this dualistic framework as a limited knowledge paradigm and argue for a more situated account of performance that includes the myriad contingencies of its 'presentation.' To achieve this end, the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, and Michel Foucault are examined in order to construct a 'hermeneutic' framework for an interdisciplinary exchange between relevant works in philosophy, musicology, and acoustic science. A variety of contemporary rock, punk, postpunk, and electroacoustic performances are analyzed within this tri-partite model. Beginning with Nietzsche's concept of the Dionysian, we focus our attention on the musical event as a space of volatile, collective energies that can potentially be channeled into acts of mob violence, or into more positive forms of community. As we continue with the interdisciplinary dialogue, Heidegger and Foucault critique and refine Nietzsche's understanding of the Dionysian through their various analyses of human listening, mood, shared attunement, technology, power, and the body. B y charting Nietzsche's concept of the Dionysian as it is reinterpreted by Heidegger and Foucault, a much broader, more differentiated understanding o f musical experience is achieved.

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