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January 2022

On musical cognition and archaic meaning schemata

Journal/Book: Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review. 1985; 8: 95-113.

Abstract: Discusses the paradox that music is the most nondiscursive of all art, yet it is said to contain "the whole human life" or whatever subject can be expressed by musical means. Manifold isomorphisms that exist between the early infantile experiences revealed through psychoanalysis and the means of musical expressions are illustrated. These isomorphisms exist in relation to various affective and emotional states and the ways they have been treated during various epochs and in different social conditions. The idea that music represents abstract forms of feelings without any specific content is examined; these forms are thought to be based on preverbal bodily experiences called archaic meaning schemata by L. Szekely (1962). It is suggested that these bodily schemata gradually integrate with the symbolic process. This development probably starts early and creates an almost inexhaustible store of affective-cognitive operations that are used both in scientific and artistic work. The task of sciences is to use these archaic meaning schemata in order to build a formalized model free of contradictions and thus true in another way. Psychoanalysis is situated somewhere between these two. There is both "music" and attempts at formalized theories in it. (33 ref)

Note: psychoanalytic interpretation of music cognition

Keyword(s): Music ; psychoanalytic interpretation

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