Master Thesis – Improvisation and new playing techniques in contemporary sacred music
Improvisation and new playing techniques in contemporary sacred music
New sacred music and its characteristics
Mag. Simon Zöchbauer
The Master’s thesis at hand focuses on composed and improvised contemporary instrumental music that deals with the question of the sacred and the spiritual within its content and intention. The aim of this thesis is, on the one hand, to determine which influences and topics make music sacral, religious, spiritual, and on the other hand, to find out with which musical means (focusing on improvisation and new playing techniques) these ideas are realised.
Subsequently, different systems within the framework of evolutionary psychology serve to examine the degree or frequency of human consciousness and the associated image of God. Based on this image of God, in turn, conclusions are drawn concerning its musical exploration.
Based on the factors level of consciousness and derived image of God, characteristics of this music that I call New Sacral Music are defined. In the next step, this work attempts to find these aspects in the musical work of Olivier Messiaen, Arvo Pärt, Markus Stockhausen and Arve Henriksen – on the one hand to confirm them, and on the other hand to show them in the work of the respective artist. This goal is approached by analysing the work and written sources by and about the respective artists.
The characteristics found and their fields of application in the music of the examined artists refer to musical realisation as well as states of experience: Transrational focus of work, integration of different musical eras and styles, use of historical sacral sources, focus on the present moment, search for an experience of unity, music practice is perceived as a spiritual practice, communication of sacral topics takes place.
Finally, this thesis examines the music of my own album Achad, released in 2019, in the light of a new sacral music, and defines the aspects found.