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‘Evolved’ traditions: The role of music in contemporary spiritual practices

Febrer Coll, Eulalia 2018. ‘Evolved’ traditions: The role of music in contemporary spiritual practices. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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The role of music in the pursuit of spirituality is linked to sound’s affective, socialising, and structuring affordances. However, with the progressive decline of traditional religious structures, actualised ways of relating to the otherworldly have emerged, in accordance with new technology and the needs of a 21st century public. From the incorporation of non-Western elements to the possibility of modifying sound in situ, the sacred continues to develop through ritual configurations. In this thesis, I explore the role of music in the affordance of spiritual and transcendental shifts of consciousness through an analysis of three case studies, with music at their heart: Guided Breathwork, Energy Centres Systems, and the Dance of the Vajra. I emphasise the relevance of the structure that merges the sonic, the physical, and the contextual, for the affordance of a holistic experience in each case. I contrast the mechanisms underlying each practice’s musical discourse to find common threads that bind them to their social environment, from their construction as a ritual of passage to their use of music as a delimitator of the sacred. Departing from a reading of the essential concepts at the foundation of each practice as well as at their wider social level, and from a close analysis of data gathered in the field, I reframe the scoped practices under the term ‘evolved’ traditions. Likewise, I explore the rituals’ underlying strategies in the affordance of what are perceived as spiritual shifts of consciousness, focusing on their musical structures, and define the elements involved in their successful edification. To do so, I draw attention on both the micro and macro levels of the rituals, in relation to their specific use of music – beats per minute, volume, character –, and their role in the society where they belong, respectively.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Music
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Funders: Fundacio Josep Ma Fericgla, ESCEN, International Dzogchen Community
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 May 2019
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2022 01:57

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