Thesis Abstract

Held at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, UK

Drawing from research in cognitive science, this dissertation* investigates the cognitive processes involved in musical understanding as a composer composes. Taking a personal approach, the author’s own conceptualizations of musical meaning are examined in relation to the cognitive phenomena of categorization, image schemata, and conceptual metaphor. In three sections it is explored how 1) the capacity to perceive basic-level categories in the music one composes relates to the understanding of musical sequences and their variation; 2) concepts developed specifically to make sense of emerging music can be structured by image schemata, patterns derived from bodily experience; and 3) conceptual metaphors can provide a basis for reasoning in the composition process at both general and specific levels of musical understanding. Conclusions are drawn on how the creative imagination is focused and structured by the cognitive faculties that allow for an understanding of the world around us.

*accompanied by a portfolio of works by the author and CD recording

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