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Jonathan Harvey's Quest of Spirit through music


In this review of Jonathan Harvey's In Quest of Spirit: Thoughts on Music, special attention is given to the question of how the musical domain may be related to the spiritual one, e.g. by representation (‘giving a picture’, ‘portrayal’), symbolism, parallelism, mediation and ‘overlap’. Harvey's sources and personal experiences are discussed, and the relationships between the different parts the author plays in his book assessed: the spiritual seeker, the thinker about music, and the composer. A possible conflict between spiritual search and professional music composition is pointed out, given an implicit tendency in the former to surrender, and in the latter to mastery and control. One of the questions looked into is how music, especially by articulating contrasts, may convey insight into ‘unity’. Other issues discussed are the possible addiction to music as a spiritual means at the expense of the spiritual quest itself; the alleged special role of electronics and spectrality in the composition of spiritual music; the possibility of developing spiritual listening; and possible modernist overtones in the notion of making progress as a composer while mediating spiritual insights and experiences.

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Organised Sound
  • ISSN: 1355-7718
  • EISSN: 1469-8153
  • URL: /core/journals/organised-sound
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