Greitzer 2007 Voices

Title Information

Author: Mary Lee Greitzer

Title: Tormented Voices


Thesis: Ph.D. Thesis, Harvard University

Year: October 2007

Pages: 192pp.

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century | U.S. History | Representations: Music

Full Text

Link: ProQuest [Restricted Access]

Additional Information


»This dissertation analyzes four 20th century solo musical works with a common theme of personal trauma. My work explores musical presentations of the body (traumatic bodily experience inscribed upon musical structure) and bodily incarnations of music history (musical knowledge inscribed upon the kinaesthetics of music making). My methodology combines traditional analytical techniques of music theory with more recent perspectives provided by feminist criticism, as in the work of Cusick, Guck, Maus, and McClary. My conclusions about the relationships between musical poetics and musical semiotics are grounded in discussions of sound, structure, and text, all of which interrelate in creating our sense of each artist's subjectivity as performer and/or composer and/or protagonist.
The first two essays present close readings of solo voice pieces responding to sexual violence the artist experienced. Tori Amos's acapella song Me and a Gun, narrating an Any woman's tale of surviving rape which resonates with mainstream feminist perspectives, successfully models for other survivors the act of "speaking up" not only through its lyrics and self-sufficiency, but by coding complementary archetypes of Victim and Survivor into the music's form and sound. Lydia Lunch's Daddy Dearest, a sonically nuanced monologue about childhood sexual abuse which presents us simultaneously with exorcism and orgasm, demonstrates the cyclic nature of abuse by visiting onto her listeners a complex recreation eliciting feelings of revulsion, arousal, and shame. I further articulate a sex-positive reading of Daddy Dearest's controversial feminist politics.
My analysis of Milton Babbitt's Philomel explores the multi-faceted portrayal of Philomel's shattered voice. Reading the piece and its protagonist as cyborgs, I draw upon Donna Haraway's Cyborg Manifesto to advocate for "New Music" generally. In resisting the formalism-first approach to the study of serial music which typified my musicological education, I present a metatheoretical argument against such methodology.
My final essay, on Eugene Ysaye's Obsession for solo violin, argues for the importance of the performer's perspective in analysis. Playing Bach's solo violin music has lent me rich insights into Ysaye's portrait of the master's influence on him, particularly in the connections perceived through my muscle memory and kinaesthetic knowledge of music.« [Source: ProQuest]


  Abstract (p. iii)
  Acknowledgements (p. vii)
  1 Tormented Voices: an introduction (p. 1)
  opening remarks (p. 1)
  the Tormented Voices repertory (p. 2)
  methodology & background: music theory, feminism, and feminist music theory (p. 16)
  2 One Voice Singing: Tori Amos's Me and a Gun (p. 27(
  introduction (p. 27)
  the words (p. 33)
  her singing voice (p. 44)
  climax (p. 52)
  lullaby (p. 56)
  3 Love is a Crowded Theatre: Lydia Lunch's Daddy Dearest (p. 59)
  introduction (p. 59)
  insinuating: laying the groundwork (p. 62)
  happening: being molested (p. 74)
  reacting: some epic ramifications (p. 88)
  Interlude: Sex-radical Feminism, Common Sense, and Solidarity (p. 97)
  anxieties and goals (p. 105)
  (issue 1) Philomel's belonging here (p. 109)
  (issue 2) how familiar am i, and what do i mean by "knowing"? (113)
  what does Philomel sound like? (i) (p. 113)
  Hollander and the surface (p. 116)
  women's work (p. 120)
  what does Philomel sound like? (ii) (p. 122)
  (issue 3) the Tower of Babbitt (p. 126)
  who is Milton Babbitt? (p. 126)
  Post-Post-Partitions (p. 129)
  (issue 4) some thoughts on feminism and Philomel (p. 138)
  the matter of sexual violence (p. 138)
  maidens no more (p. 139)
  what does Philomel sound like? (iii) (p. 144)
  cyborg feminism (p. 147)
  potent fusions in Philomel (p. 147)
  coercing the discourse with Alarm Will Sound (p. 152)
  postscript (p. 158)
  5 Becoming Bach, Blaspheming Bach: Eugene Ysaye's Obsession (p. 160)
  introduction (p. 160)
  quoting Bach (p. 162)
  quoting the devil (p. 173)
  concluding remarks (p. 184)
  Bibliography (p. 187)
  Discography (p. 191)
  Videography (p. 192)

Wikipedia: Tori Amos, Me and a Gun, Lydia Lunch

Added: November 9, 2013 | Last updated: November 9, 2013