Musical disembodiment: a phenomenological case study investigating the experiences of operatic career disruption due to physical incapacity

Jane Oakland, Raymond MacDonald, Paul Flowers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This paper explores the relationship between music and body in the context of a professional music career. The participant, a singer (Joe) lost the use of his legs while working as an opera singer. Two in depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with Joe to explore the background to his condition and the ways in which he made sense of a disrupted life. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) highlighted conflicts between Joe’s expectations of the power of music to positively influence his own need for status and recognition as a musician. Three overarching themes are presented: ‘Music is Master’; ‘I Love Music but I don’t like to Sing’; ‘Staging a Life’. These themes highlight how changes in musical aspects of a performer’s working life can impact significantly upon psychological factors. Connections are made between Joe’s perceived loss of musical control and his physical loss of control. Issues surrounding the relationship between psychosomatic and somatic symptoms experienced by musicians are also explored.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-55
Number of pages17
JournalResearch Studies in Music Education
Volume36
Issue number1
Early online date5 Feb 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2014

Keywords

  • identity
  • music career
  • interpretative phenomenological analysis
  • career transition
  • illness
  • opera singers

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