Abstracts and Papers

1st Global Conference
Music And….Death

Saturday 2nd December 2017 – Sunday 3rd December 2017
Vienna, Austria

Conference Abstracts and Papers



Black Metal’s Representations of Death
Camille Béra
University of Rouen, France

Key Words:
Black Metal – Heavy Metal – Thanatophilia – aesthetics – underground

For around three decades, Black Metal has been a growing genre worldwide within the Heavy Metal scene. It started as an underground movement, first embodied by a first wave, led by bands from various Europeans countries such as Hellhammer, Venom, Bathory and Mercyful Fate. Those first wave bands would not identify themselves as Black Metal, but they paved the way for younger acts like Mayhem and Burzum, who developed their own aesthetics and music during the late 80’s and early 90’s, initially as a divergent branch of Death Metal, creating their own new genre, characterized by a lo-fi sound production, high-pitched vocals and several specific instrumental techniques.

From its start, death was one of Black Metal’s main themes. Nowadays, physical, metaphorical and mythical death, remain dominant topics in Black metal, present in the whole genre’s spectrum. According to us, Black Metal’s relationship with death appears to be such an important matter, that the genre’s thanatophilia can hardly be argued.

In this paper, we will start by identifying some of death’s main representations, mainly focusing on how death is musically depicted, how musicians attempt to embody and stage death, and finally observe the extra-musical mentions of death (in lyrics, songs and album titles…).

To go further, we will try to draw conclusions from these observations, and make an attempt to figure out the reasons why death is such a crucial theme in Black Metal, and what kind of deeper meaning it holds.

For this analysis, considering the large amount of branded Black Metal productions, I will mainly focus on European bands, and albums released prior to 2005.

Healing the Mother Wound: Metal Performance and Grief Management
Jasmine Shadrack
University of Northampton, UK

Key Words:
Death, Grief, Performance, Mourning, Feminism

Metal saved my life. It is not the first time and it probably will not be the last. The murder of my mother when I was twenty-one, meant I was alone and if it had not been for metal, my grieving process may have been the end of my story. The death of course is one thing, but mourning is something that characterises many years after the event. If I had not bought my first guitar the year she died, the last seventeen years of my life would be a very different narrative.

I firmly believe that metal and metal performance, prevented my suicide and any plans for revenge. It matched my pain, sonically, texturally, musically and aesthetically. It initiated a cathartic process that I have returned to since, because it offers me emotional and psychological balance that other music forms do not. This may be a purely subjective engagement but that is precisely the point.

Remembering this time in my life is not easy, and can often come in hesitations, blanks and painful memories. By using interpretive performance auto-ethnography, a methodology that Richardson calls CAP or creative analytic practice (2000b, p. 929) means, [it] allows the researcher to take up a person’s life in its immediate particularity and to ground the life in its historical moment. We move back and forth in time, using a version of Sartre’s progressive-regressive method. Interpretation works forward to the conclusion of a set of acts taken up by the subject while working back in time, interrogating the historical, cultural, and biographical conditions that moved the person to experience the events being studied’ (Denzin, 2001 p. 41).

Through this methodological application, this paper seeks to analyse how metal and metal performance helped me write my trauma into a performing life that ultimately liberated me from my grief.

Music in the Mourning: on the Ritual use of Funeral Folk Songs.
Marek Jeziński
Nicolai Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland

Key Words:
death, mythology, social anthropology, folk culture, rituals, grief, mourning, funeral songs

 In the paper I undertake the issue of musical illustration of funeral rites and ceremonies as well as songs related to mourning of the deceased. The death of a man in many cultures is perceived as an important point in life of a given community (especially a family), hence, people tend to express feelings of this kind in art. Songs sung at funerals and during the mourning period have been used by human beings for centuries as expressions of emotions and feelings related to social situation in which alive family members have been found. Grief and mourning, associated with the loss of a loved person, are culturally manifested primarily by the costume (color, covering face and body), behavior (crying, loud bragging of the deceased, restraint in gestures, psychological/physical stupor), and dietary practices (eating certain kind of food and avoiding other ones).

Music, used to emphasize the feelings grief and sorrow, the funeral mood, and the aesthetic fulfillment of a sense of loss, can express strong emotions associated with funeral and mourning. Music, as a social phenomenon, is always present during funeral rituals and it is used to fill the physical acoustic space during the ceremonies.
The lyrics of the mourning songs accompanying the funeral rituals constitute a specific mythology of death expressed through music. The main problem discussed in the paper refers to such phenomenon: I shall examine Polish folk songs as regards the manifestation of mourning in them. Such songs outgrow with Christian traditions but they are supplemented by the elements rooted in the Slavic folklore. Their main themes: are the praise of the deceased, the grief of the remaining family, the preparation of the dead one to the eternal life, or the attempt to treat the one’s transition to a state of death in ironic (or even humorous) way. Such songs as: „Żegnam cię mój świecie wesoły” (“Goodbye my merry world”), „Żegnam was mitry i korony” (“I swear to you mithra and crown”), „Opuścić drodzy muszę was” (“I must leave you my dear”), „Życie przemija” („Life is passing”), „Już idę do grobu smutnego” („I’m going to the sad grave”), „Anielski orszak” („The Angelic procession”), „Na smętarzu mieszkać będę” („On the cementery I will live”), „Na wieczny sen” („For an eternal dream”), „Umarł Maciek, umarł” („Maciek died, he died”) are supposed to present the soul’s journey to the underworld, to show how people imagine death itself. Therefore, from anthropological point of view, their main function is to socialize with the phenomenon of death and help overcome the loss and they are interpreted as the attempts to overcome the fear of the unknown undertaken by particular human group.

The Posthumous Nephew: Belated Mourning and Fresh Divinations.
Gary Levy

Deakin University, Australia

Key Words:
music, death, posthumous, melos, spirit, Vienna, emergent design, anti-Semitism, auto-ethnography

The young K flees Hitler’s Germany, then returns to Europe ten years after the Allied victory. He studies conducting under the famed Swarowsky at the Vienna Music Academy and begins to build his career. The ghost of Mahler haunts him, as the roots of anti-Semitism have not been extracted. As he plans his exodus, he falls victim to the influenza epidemic, and is buried, without family, or ritual. His beloved, far-away sister, has just given birth to her second child. She grieves, and grieves, K’s sudden and permanent absence. The musical (im)pulse freezes. The pain excruciating. The posthumous infant becomes both the object through which the grief is mediated, and the subject of consolation and unreachable hope. The child’s soul remains stunted into his teens, until Mozart and Beethoven announce themselves, fissuring the thickened heart, insisting on the primacy of melos. The affair of the amateur musician commences. The softening and leavening process continues, gradually, for decades and decades to come. Unsurprisingly, concerts and recordings of ‘art music’, along with the occasional funerals, provide the time-space within which the tears of grief and Song of Life can start to flow more freely, and trustingly, and knowingly, together.
The Music And…Death Conference provides this re/searcher with an opportunity to visit Vienna for the first time; to explore the potent, personal, connection between Music and Death that were, by chance, constitutive in/of his early infancy. Arriving in Vienna a week ahead of the Conference, the re/searcher will to seek to meet the spirit of his uncle, who lived there from 1955 until his untimely death in 1960. The re/searcher will glean whatever traces of musical performances, individual and collective memories, distant echoes, faintly related associations, critical appraisals, fragments of experience, fresh thoughts, current dreams, and other artefacts happen to present themselves at the time. He will be listening for the sweetness of Keats’ ‘unheard melodies’, and will gather/record/notate/compose these as text, in sound, perhaps also in images, and patterns of movement. At the Conference, the re/searcher will present a short ‘montage’ of these fresh events, simultaneously inviting participation and input from delegates, towards further iterations of this auto-ethnographic, emergent inquiry (Morgan, 2008). The exploration will be framed by Nietzsche’s (2003) claim that ‘without music, life would be a mistake’; and Del Nevo’s (2014) Schopenhauer-inspired suggestion that music ‘attunes us to the truths of the metaphysics of night’.

Pulling off the Shroud: Benjamin Britten’s Posthumous Biographers and the Dissolution of Privacy.
Thornton Miller
University of Illinois, USA

What belongs in a deceased person’s biography? Which of the subject’s secrets should be made public and what should be left in private? What should the reader know in order to gleam a fuller understanding of the biographer’s subject? What place, if any, do biographers’ theories—or speculation—have in the biography itself? The British composer Benjamin Britten (1913-1976), has had a relatively large number of biographies written about him (especially so for a twentieth-century composer). He was a publicly accessible composer who became the central figure in British classical music for much of the mid-twentieth century, and his compositions (particularly his operas and the War Requiem) are still frequently performed. Britten consistently kept the details of his personal life out of the public sphere. In addition, there has been a great interest in his private persona among both scholars and enthusiasts, particularly regarding the open secret regarding his decades-long relationship with the English tenor Peter Pears (1910-1986). While it was well known that he shared a house with Pears, Britten never publicly announced his homosexuality. During his life, critics and musicologists generally maintained the distinction Britten demarcated between public work and private life. But, after the composer’s death, musicologists, such as the late Philip Brett, began publicly discussing the composer’s sexuality in order to create a fuller biographical account of his life. Moreover, accounts of Britten’s private life were analyzed as evidence to draw connections in causality between the man, his place in society, and his compositional output. In this paper, I will discuss Humphrey Carpenter’s, Paul Kildea’s, and Neil Powell’s recent biographies of Benjamin Britten, and consider the differences in their methodologies and assess their posthumous treatment of the composer’s private life.

Death in Search of the Musician.
Sramana Chatterji
Jawaharlal Nehru University, India

Key Words:
Music, Death, Kalikaprasad Bhattacharya, Life, Folk, Inspiration, Musician

Death is an unanswered question for humanity, the question that always remains unrequited because it lies beyond human experience. Music represents one of the most thoughtful ways in which humanity struggles, nevertheless, to accommodate death within the scope of the living by giving a voice to death and the dead and a voice that responds. Music has always helped in understanding the origins and the nature of emotions. The world would be a silent and dreary place without music. Music wraps us in a blanket of comfort, encouraging us in moments of loneliness and sorrow. It is the melodious expression of people’s thoughts and passions which is utilized as a meaningful and complex expression of universal communication.

Few occasions in life are connected with such tough and strong memories like when someone dies an unnatural death, some affected by serious sickness, especially when this happens to someone close, friends, family or an idol. During such difficult times, music protects us by channelizing our feelings, distracting negative thoughts, consoling, creating meaning, and giving strength to move on in life.

Similarly, my paper will be an attempt to focus on the Legendary Musician Late Kalikaprasad Bhattacharya, who died in a sudden road accident on 8th March 2017. He was not only a famous folk artist but also a researcher and a traveler who inspired many, from urban to rural households, to grow an interest in folk music and explore the deep roots hidden underneath it. His death has shaken the entire world, especially me as he was my teacher, whom I have never met but his works and music motivated me to discover new journeys of music. Though it is immensely difficult to bear the pain of his death, but his music has kept me going and helped me in coming out of the affliction.
My paper therefore, would deal with how a musician even after his/her death stays alive in people’s heart; how music helps in speaking or responding to human mortality; how are death and the dead made present to us through music, with a special reference to Late Kalikaprasad Bhattacharya.

Mahler and the Theory of Grief in the Symphony No. 2.
Benjamin Lassauzet
GREAM, France

Key Words:
Mahler, Kübler-Ross, grief, approaching death, resurrection, symphony.

In 1969, the psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross wrote On Death and Dying. In this influent essay, she presented her now famous 5-stage model of approaching death, which can be modelized into a downward trajectory (1. shock and denial, 2. anger, 3. bargaining, 4. depression) followed by a symmetrical psychological rise (5. acceptance).
In 1888-1894, in response to Hans von Bülow’s death, Gustav Mahler composed his Symphony No.2 (subtitled « Resurrection »), in which the idea of death is omnipresent : it opens with a funeral march based on a symphonic poem called Totenfeier (« Remembrance Ceremony ») containing a Dies Irae motive, and closes with a very long finale inspired by Klopstock’s Die Auferstehung (The Resurrection). The structure of the finale itself is quite similar to the symmetrical mechanism described by Kübler-Ross, which can be summarized in the symphony by this verse sung by the choir : « Sterben werd’ ich, um zu leben ! » (« I shall die, to live ! »). With this « death and transfiguration » movement, the orchestra experiences every single step of the model: from a « cry of despair » in the first bar (1. shock) to a horn call without response (2. denial), to the depiction of a rivalry between the Dies Irae motive (« death ») and what will be the Resurrection theme (3. bargaining), to a grieving section (4. depression), and to a long rising towards an optimistic climax at the end (5. acceptance).
Even though the death acceptance process was far from being formalized in Mahler’s days, this symphony shows that more than seventy-five years before Kübler-Ross, the composer, who had experienced mourning since his youth (facing his brothers’ and sisters’ death), had the intuitive knowledge of the different steps of approaching death…

Death in Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia: Between Convention and Innovation.
Giulia Lorenzi
University of Bergamo, Italy

Key Words:
Italian opera, Donizetti, Lucrezia Borgia, death of son, romantic opera

Donizetti in Lucrezia Borgia reveals his gusto for violent situation, indeed in this opera the author maintains a dramatic mood for all the time of the actions (Ashbrook 1987) (cfr. Maffio Orsini, signora, son io). In this period of Donizetti’s production, he begins to take the distances from the convention of bel canto, which Henriette Méric-Lalande, the first soprano who sings in the role of Lucrezia, wants to be respected. Donizetti satisfies the request of Méric-Lalande and writes for her a final rondo di bravura” for the scene of death of Lucrezia Borgia’s son, but he re-writes many time the conclusion of this opera. In the situation of Gennaro’s death and the previous poisoning, it’s revealed the romantic emphasis on the extreme emotions and feelings, typically present in later Verdi’s production.
The aim of this talk is present and analyse the Gennaro’s poisoning and the various versions of Gennaro’s death in the re-writing of the opera, comparing the musical solution, the type of versification and the lexical choice of the libretto. Lucrezia Borgia has an incredibly long series of variation caused by censorship, by unavailability of musicians and by singer’s desire (Saracino 1996) and I want to present many different way in which in the same opera is express the most terrible tragedy for a mother: the loss of her son.

Draft Conference Paper (pdf)

Ravel’s Great War
David Mosley
Bellarmine University, USA

Key Words:
commemoration, re-animation, trace, mechanized sound, erasure, uncanny, performed absence, Maurice Ravel, Paul Wittgenstein

Maurice Ravel’s musical response to the Great War was more sustained, drew upon a greater variety of musical genres, and was expressed in more diverse musical styles than any other composer of his generation.  The six baroque dances of Le Tombeau de Couperin (1914-17) both entomb (mettre au tombeau) and re-amimate seven fallen (tombés) comrades.  Ravel’s Frontispice (1918), a musical miniature printed as the frontispiece to a collection of wartime poetry by Ricciotto Canudo, exists in the text as a silent graphic representation.  However, in as much as the composer indicated the piece was to be performed by the pianola – a mechanism whose 88 pneumatically powered hammers strike the keys of a conventional piano – Frontispiece is a musical work always already without an aura. The most famous of Ravel’s wartime works is the un-danceable dance La Valse (1919-20).  In it the French composer’s willful erasure of the idiomatic Viennese dance form announces the end of the ending known as the fin de siècle.  Finally, in Le concerto pour la main gauche (1929-30) commissioned by the Austrian pianist Paul Wittgenstein – who lost his right arm in the first days of the war – Ravel composes a stunning trompe l’oreille.  When Wittgenstein performed the concerto audience’s heard a two-handed piano part but saw the pianist’s empty sleeve, i.e. they experienced the performed presence of absence.  In this presentation, and the larger project on Ravel’s Great War from which it comes, I argue that these works represent the composer’s material thinking about death, a thinking in tones about commemoration and re-animation, the silent trace and mechanized sound, ending and erasure, and the uncanny presence of absence.

Sounds of salvation: the iconographic representation of music in Roman Catholic ossuaries.
Anna Hoepflinger
Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Germany
Yves Mueller  
Photographer and Musician, Switzerland

Key Words:
Charnel chapels, ossuary-music, photography, architecture, music and religion, material religion, death and salvation, normativity

Death is difficult to define on a theoretical level. From a philosophical point of view, as Thomas Macho argues, it is impossible for a system to conceptualise its own end without contradictions (Macho 2000, 91). The concept of death can therefore only be represented in a metaphorical or symbolical way based on cultural- and time-specific mediatisation-processes. In this context various media play an important role, e.g., images, music, architecture, rituals, films. These forms representing death are often connected in intermedia dependencies. In our paper we elaborate upon the interrelation between music, architecture, and images representing the idea of mortality. We have chosen to deal with this topic using the example of Roman-Catholic ossuaries in Central Europe. Ossuaries are sanctified religious buildings which are used to store human bones (see Koudounaris 2011). In these chapels music is represented in a couple of different ways: On the one hand, the danse macabre motif can be found frequently with cadavers being depicted playing the so called “ossuary-music”, while engaging humans from different genders and social classes in the dance of death. On the other hand, a promise of salvation is closely connected with the representation of music, such as the blowing of the trumpet for the Last Judgement, which is used, on many occasions, as a symbol for eternal life. Based on these examples, we have focused on a cultural-historical perspective with an interrelation between the representation of music, architectural spaces of death, and the formation of normative ideas, specifically regarding a “good” life.

The Blood Vote.
Jenny Game-Lopata
Swinburne University, Australia

Key Words:
circus-opera, suffragette, anti-conscription, feminism, composition

Kiss Me, My Son opens a new Australian circus-chamber opera The Blood Vote, by composer Jenny Game-Lopata and Circus performer and director Zebastion Hunter.
The Blood Vote was the title of a 1917 Anti conscription Campaign poster. The circus–opera is based on the life Vida Goldstein, Australian suffragette, anti-conscription campaigner and the first woman in the British Empire to stand for election to a national parliament. The Blood Vote highlights intersections between death, politics and feminism through the medium of the human voice and extreme circus performance. In her Special Appeal by Women to Women Vida Goldstein entreats mothers to vote against conscription in an upcoming 1917 plebiscite:

You, who give life, cannot, if you think deeply and without bias, vote to send any mother’s son to kill, against his will, some other mother’s son. You may, if you choose, send your own son, but you are guilty in the first degree if you take upon yourself the responsibility of forcing someone else’s son to break the Sixth Commandment, and, defying God, say to him Thou Shalt Kill (Australia’s Day of Degradation: Proclamation Day, Oct. 2, 1916).

Kiss Me, My Son laments the ancient, omnipresent, agony of mothers who lose their

sons in war. Death defying circus arts form a physical collage representing death-inwar over many eons to accompany the lament. The awe-inspiring, genuinely

dangerous physically feats keeps the senses fully alive dramatically increasing the

impact of the lament. Music has traditionally been used to increase the suspense,

intensity and sense of danger in circus. In The Blood Vote, music and circus interact as equally partners to generate a highly charged new work.

‘I Can Fly, My Friends’: Mercury’s Message to Go on With the Show.
Marie Josephine Bennett
University of Winchester, UK

Key Words:
Freddie Mercury; Illness; Lyrics; Mortality; Music; Queen; Songs

Freddie Mercury rose to fame as the lead singer of the pop group Queen.  The group started working on tracks for their fourteenth studio album between the spring of 1989 and November 1990, and Innuendo was finally released in February 1991.    Progress on recording the songs was slow as Mercury, who had been diagnosed with AIDS, was unable to work for more than a few days at a time.  As early as 1986, a UK tabloid newspaper had published a story alleging that Freddie was ill, although this was strenuously denied.  However, despite his new reclusive lifestyle and evident gaunt appearance during the BRIT awards ceremony in February 1990, Mercury did not reveal that he was dying from an AIDS-related illness until the day before his actual death, in November 1991.
Innuendo was the last Queen album to be released during Mercury’s lifetime, and ‘The Show Must Go On’, is its final track.  Its placing is arguably significant, given that the remaining band members must have assumed that this would be their last album together.  Main writer of the song, guitarist Brian May, has stated that he was unsure Mercury would be strong enough at the time to record the vocal.  Explaining that he and Mercury ‘decided what the theme should be and wrote the first verse’ together, he has stated that he believed the song ‘would be important because we were dealing with things that were hard to talk about at the time, but in the world of music you could do it’.  In this paper, I will present an analysis of the song’s lyrics and music with reference to Mercury’s illness and his wish to contribute vocals for as long as he possibly could, knowing the seriousness of his condition at the time and the fact that this would be one of his last recordings.

Popsongs: a New Interpretation of Death?
Janneke Bruin-Mollenhorst
Tilburg University, The Netherlands

Key Words:
music, repertoire, interpretation, function, death, cremation, funeral, Netherlands

 Time to say goodbye (A. Bocelli) and Dutch popsongs like Can I be with you (Mag ik dan bij jou by C. de Breij) and Take me to the water (Breng me naar het water by M. Borsato featuring M. Simons) frequently sound during cremation rituals in the Netherlands. Next to this more or less standardized repertoire, there is a more personal repertoire that reminds the bereaved family of the deceased. As a result, a wide variety of musical genres, from classical music to rock, comes to sound, although nowadays a major part consists of pop music. Popsongs increasingly replace the religious and classical repertoire that was played during the 20th century. In my research about music during cremation rituals in the Netherlands, I found that the music has several functions. For example, during one of my observations a grandchild of the deceased held a speech after which we listened to the Dutch popsong grandpa (opa by M. Borsato). Here, the music was an extension of what was said before. At the end of a cremation ritual, when people pass by the coffin and pay their respect, often Time to say goodbye (A. Bocelli) sounds, emphasising the moment of the final farewell. The songtext of many other, especially popsongs are not only about ‘saying goodbye’ or ‘not being alone’, but also about a road or destiny. Have these songs replaced the religious interpretation of death? Based on observations of cremation rituals and an analysis of music that sounds during cremation rituals in the Netherlands, in my presentation I will discuss the question ‘Have popsongs provided a new interpretation of death?’.

Music of the Fears.
Christopher Buckingham
Aston University, UK

Music reaches beyond the intellect, with a direct line to our emotions. This gives it huge redemptive potential for people with mental health difficulties but it is underexploited in clinical services. We are redressing the balance by integrating music within the Galatean Risk and Care Environment, GRaCE (, which is a software system for detecting and managing risks such as suicide and violence that are often associated with mental health problems.
There are now over 200,000 completed suicide risk assessments by practitioners using GRaCE in England as part of normal clinical practice every day of the week. Each one consists of many questions relating both to suicide directly and to underlying mental, social, emotional, and historic issues in people’s general life circumstances. Mathematical analysis of the input data and output clinical risk judgements means GRaCE can evaluate suicide risks and give appropriate advice on how to manage them, which is now being done for people using the self-assessment version, myGRaCE.
The idea is to build music both into the therapeutic advice from myGRaCE and as a direct representation of the myGRaCE reports. The numbers for each answer equate to levels of risk (0 is no risk influence, 10 is maximum risk influence) and rules can be created for how the numbers are converted into musical notes on a score. This means a person’s report can be listened to as music, with different experiences depending on the mix of numeric scores across the answers. The conference presentation will “perform” the reports and explore how music within GRaCE can help people move away from suicidal thoughts and impulses. We will also demonstrate how we are extending the approach to multimedia “son et lumiere”, where the same idea of converting numbers to music can be effected for numbers to coloured lights and pixels.

The Impact of National Tragedy and Death Thoughts on the Selection of Sad vs. Happy Music.
Nathan Heflick
University of Lincoln, UK
Annemieke van den Tol
De Montfort University, UK

Past research indicates that while people generally prefer to listen to happy music over sad music, this is less the case when people are in sad mood states (e.g., when experiencing sad life events) prior to choosing to listen to music. We experimentally tested if Americans are more or less likely to listen to sad music on the anniversary of a national tragedy (the September 11th terrorist attacks that killed 2917 victims), and when reminded of their own mortality. This was done by asking Americans either on Sept 11th, 2015 or 2016, or on dates weeks before or after those dates, to choose to listen to any song they want, under the stipulation that it either reflect sadness or happiness. Participants across all dates were additionally asked to write about their own death or pain (in 2015) or uncertainty (in 2016). The results indicated that writing about one’s own death had no significant impact on the selection of sad or happy music, nor did the influence of death writing differ based on whether the choice was made on Sept 11th. However, participants were more likely to select sad music compared to happy music on September 11th than on the other dates. This suggests that, although people turned more towards sad music on a day of remembrance for a national tragedy, this was not due to this day heightening thoughts of one’s own death. Further, this effect was found to not differ if people were high or low in personal need for structure (a measure of a person’s preference for consistency and routine), although people high, but not low, in need for structure experienced more negative affect on September 11th. As such, it does not appear that negative mood itself can explain in this instance why people chose sad music over happy music more on September 11th.

Death Vision (on a January Day)
Silvia Teles
Universidade de Aveiro, Portugal

Key Words:
Music composition – Vision – Sound – Time – Death

In this paper, we discuss the relation between death and time, from the author’s music composition piece “Death vision (On a January day)” for solo transverse flute.
This work is about a vision of death that is described as follows in the score program notes: “This piece is about the mental concept of death on a day of January. Possessing the specter of death is like to slowly enter a labyrinth where time has been forgotten, where our perception border lines are constantly changed, reshaping the meaning of everything that surrounds us.”
This description of a death vision occurs from a daydream that the author situates on a January day, from which precisely the vision occurs. According to the Portuguese philosopher José Gil (2016) “daydreaming transforms things”, (…) “the subject does not stand in front of the object, but rather floats with it” (…) “The vision sees, so it can be prophetic or amnesic. It is the rhythm, the pulsation and the acceleration that transform the images into visions.”
From the apparently ambiguous description of the previous vision, it was possible to define the whole structure of the piece, as well as the composition materials: cells, rhythms, attacks and sound production, which we will analyze and listen to the recording.
We will see that it is not in the instant of the real confrontation with death that this image is generated, but in another time and space that are not present, situated outside the temporality itself, and that in the program notes is given by the concept of the labyrinth, that path whose exit is unpredictable.
We will see how this type of vision opens the way not only for the sonic realization of the vision but also for the understanding of the ways the sonic artist relates to matter.

Death as Negation: Black Metal’s Disturbing Apophatic Insight
Niall Scott
University of Central Lancashire, UK

Where the theme of death in the subgenre of black metal has been written about descriptively, it is less frequent to find conceptual philosophical or theological analyses of death. In this piece I aim to show how black metal’s presentation of death lies in line with death as negation, instilled with strong links to Christianity’s mystical apophatic theology.  I will argue that this view on death shows it cannot be properly in terms of affirmative language. Even where death is treated as a physical death, rather than metaphorical, it is a celebrated expression of negation. However, unlike the Christian apophatic tradition, black metal’s death is not a renunciation of the physical, rather it is a complement to it. In a complex sense, even negating negations, black metal’s expression of death is disturbing precisely because of its dual acceptance of death as metaphor and as physically fully realised.

You’re Nothing: Punk and Death
David Gracon  
Precarpathian National University, Ukraine

This personal essay examines the punk subculture and themes of death in five interconnected sections: The first section You’re Nothing concisely maps out the defining essence of the punk subculture and its fragmented connections to the Situationist International, dada, anarchism; and on an intrapersonal level, feelings of anomie, despair, alienation and ultimately finding life (in the form of punk communities, punk lyrics etc.) in death within an oppressive and ultimately destructive neoliberal society.  The second section Existence is Suffering explores punk’s gritty relationship with death in terms of the signifieds of band names such as Death, The Dead Kennedys and Millions of Dead Cops and Death Grips.  I will then proceed to explore some sample punk lyrics that further exemplify the defining characteristics presented in the first section and more specifically, punk’s connectedness to death and dying.  The third section Who’s Punk and What’s the Score? addresses the authenticity debates surrounding the supposed death of punk alongside its articulation and eventual commodification by way of the spectacle of mass cultural institutions and late capitalism, and its eventual or debatable re-birth (this is debatable as some have claimed punk being dead and done after the Sex Pistols attempted to end all forms of rock and roll in 1978) into the various off-shoots of post punk, afro-punk, riot grrrl, queer-core, hard-core, post hard-core, noise, strands of indie rock and the continued and multifarious splintering of the punk subculture in contemporary society.  In the last section titled You’re Something I will explore how the punk music subculture personally helped me deal with the death of my mother (from cancer) when I was a high-school student by going to shows, slam-dancing in gritty clubs, writing a fanzine and by embracing the punk ethos of resistance, survival and seeking out beauty in a dying world.