Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Music Criticism


James Deaville


The very mention of the word deconstruction is sometimes enough to throw its opponents into deep depression, its supporters into a state of intellectual overload, and almost everyone into varying degrees of confusion. The concept of deconstruction has not been examined by musicology in great depth. It is the purpose of this thesis to demonstrate that deconstruction can offer important new perspectives to the study of music in general, and to hermeneutics in particular.

The first chapter of my investigation examines what deconstruction is (and is not). This begins with a survey of the origins and history of deconstruction, as well as a description of the major characteristics which help to define deconstruction's goals. The second chapter concerns itself with how deconstruction has been applied to musical scholarship. This includes a brief consideration of various sources which make limited use of deconstruction, and then focuses more intensely on works by Steve Sweeney-Turner, Lawrence Kramer, and Rose Rosengard Subotnik. The final chapter concerns musical hermeneutics and deconstruction. This chapter examines how deconstruction, specifically the concept of misinterpretation, affects musical interpretation. In order to provide a framework which can cope with deconstruction, while taking into account postmodern concerns (particularly the body), I use philosopher Mark Johnson's theory of embodied meaning.

McMaster University Library

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