Refractions of masculinity : ambivalence and androgyny in Philip Glass's opera 'Akhnaten' and selected recent works
This study examines Philip Glass's opera 'Akhnaten' (1993) and various recent works by the same composer, on the one hand as expressions of the composer's self-world-view, and on the other as musico-cultural phenomena. A central concern is to relate the musical procedures employed by Glass to the ideational origins of the individual works as well as to their broader cultural contexts: connections with ideas in postmodern culture, gender theory, and Buddhism - which the composer practises -- are all explored. As its philosophical foundation, the study draws on ideas from the hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer and Paul Ricoeur as well as the physicist David Bohm’s idea of perception-communication. With regard to music research, the approach is strongly influenced by ethnomusicology, although the study aligns itself most closely with the precepts of poststructural, or critical, musicology The analysis and interpretation of the opera 'Akhnaten' comprises the heart of the work. An important structural principle is located in the highly ambiguous tonality that pervades much of the opera; more specifically three types of tonal ambiguity are identified: polyphonic polytonality, interpretational polytonality, and modal ambiguity. Corollaries are found in the ambiguous sexualities of the three leading characters, particularly in the androgynous title role itself. Other works, including Glass's scores to the films 'Mishima' and 'Koyaanisqatsi', the opera 'The Fall of the House of Usher', and the solo piano composition 'Metamorphosis', are also discussed, the purpose being to examine how ideas presented in 'Akhnaten' reappear and are transformed in subsequent works. ...
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