Musicality in Theatre: Music as Model, Method and Metaphor in Theatre-Making, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Musicality in Theatre

Music as Model, Method and Metaphor in Theatre-Making, 1st Edition

By David Roesner


320 pages

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Paperback: 9781138248380
pub: 2016-09-09
Hardback: 9781409461012
pub: 2014-07-02
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315597003
pub: 2016-04-29
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As the complicated relationship between music and theatre has evolved and changed in the modern and postmodern periods, music has continued to be immensely influential in key developments of theatrical practices. In this study of musicality in the theatre, David Roesner offers a revised view of the nature of the relationship. The new perspective results from two shifts in focus: on the one hand, Roesner concentrates in particular on theatre-making - that is the creation processes of theatre - and on the other, he traces a notion of ‘musicality’ in the historical and contemporary discourses as driver of theatrical innovation and aesthetic dispositif, focusing on musical qualities, metaphors and principles derived from a wide range of genres.

Roesner looks in particular at the ways in which those who attempted to experiment with, advance or even revolutionize theatre often sought to use and integrate a sense of musicality in training and directing processes and in performances. His study reveals both the continuous changes in the understanding of music as model, method and metaphor for the theatre and how different notions of music had a vital impact on theatrical innovation in the past 150 years. Musicality thus becomes a complementary concept to theatricality, helping to highlight what is germane to an art form as well as to explain its traction in other art forms and areas of life. The theoretical scope of the book is developed from a wide range of case studies, some of which are re-readings of the classics of theatre history (Appia, Meyerhold, Artaud, Beckett), while others introduce or rediscover less-discussed practitioners such as Joe Chaikin, Thomas Bernhard, Elfriede Jelinek, Michael Thalheimer and Karin Beier.


‘This is the first book to chart the history of the musicalization of theatre comprehensively in relation to writers, directors, scenographers, and performers, and it does so with great clarity and authority. … this book will secure a lasting place not only as a stimulating counter-history of twentieth-century theatre, but also as provocation to rethink the ontology of theatre itself, and the meaning of musicality.’

Music and Letters

Musicality in Theatre will serve as an important source for future studies in musical-theatrical intermediality…’

Contemporary Theatre Review

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: premises and promises; Appia - musicality and the ‘inner essence’; Meyerhold - theatre ‘organized according to the music’s laws; Artaud - the musicality of sound, voice and noise; Writing with your ears - the musicality of playwriting; Theatre and jazz; The eclectic musicality of now; Conclusion: paradoxes of musicality; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

David Roesner is a Professor at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitãt, Munich, and co-director of the European Theatre Research Network. In 2007 he won the Thurnau Award for Music-Theatre Studies for his article 'The politics of the polyphony of performance'. Recent publications include Theatre Noise (with Lynne Kendrick, 2011) and Composed Theatre (with Matthias Rebstock, 2012).

About the Series

Ashgate Interdisciplinary Studies in Opera

Ashgate Interdisciplinary Studies in Opera
The Ashgate Interdisciplinary Studies in Opera series provides a centralized and prominent forum for the presentation of cutting-edge scholarship that draws on numerous disciplinary approaches to a wide range of subjects associated with the creation, performance, and reception of opera (and related genres) in various historical and social contexts. There is great need for a broader approach to scholarship about opera. In recent years, the course of study has developed significantly, going beyond traditional musicological approaches to reflect new perspectives from literary criticism and comparative literature, cultural history, philosophy, art history, theatre history, gender studies, film studies, political science, philology, psycho-analysis, and medicine. The new brands of scholarship have allowed a more comprehensive interrogation of the complex nexus of means of artistic expression operative in opera, one that has meaningfully challenged prevalent historicist and formalist musical approaches. The Ashgate Interdisciplinary Studies in Opera series continues to move this important trend forward by including essay collections and monographs that reflect the ever-increasing interest in opera in non-musical contexts. Books in the series are linked by their emphasis on the study of a single genre - opera - yet are distinguished by their individualized and novel approaches by scholars from various disciplines/fields of inquiry. The remit of the series welcomes studies of seventeenth century to contemporary opera from all geographical locations, including non-Western topics.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / Genres & Styles / Opera
PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / General