Teatermusikaliska ljudhändelser. Ett bidrag till studiet av musik och angränsande ljudobjekt i talteater och opera

Translated title of the contribution: Theatre-musical sound-events. A contribution to the study of music and adjacent sound-occurrences in spoken theatre and opera

Frithjof Lund

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


This dissertation focuses primarily on the following aspects concerning music in theatre: 1) its experienced peculiarity – ontologically grounded, 2) its sounding scope, and 3) its various kinds of functions. I argue that the difference between spoken theatre and opera is a question of degree rather than essence, and consider such an assertion being especially valid for the music of these genres. This is one reason why by the noun theatre-music (as alternative to more common, but also more limited terms) I understand all kinds of music connected with scenic-created fictional events. It ought to be mentioned that I regard recitatives and other variants of speech-song as stylized talking, not as theatrical music in a strict sense. There are two principally different categories of theatre-music, one belonging inside, and the other outside the characters’ fictive world, categories which some scholars call ‘diegetic’ and ‘non-diegetic music’ respectively, a terminology, however, that I myself question. A distinctive feature of music within scenic-created fictions (the ‘diegetic music’) is that it gives an impression of unreality. This I try to explain by means of a perception-psychological hypothesis, though not excluding cognitive aspects. A particularly intricate perceptual problem occurs when items of diegetic and non-diegetic music sound simultaneously. Another characteristic of theatre-music is that it is almost impossible to mark off from adjacent categories of sound-events, such as sound effects and instrumental signalling, but also recitatives and speech-song, cf. above. Because of this, I also introduce a wider concept, which I label “theatre-musical sound-events”. The third and most spacious of the main issues concerns the functions of theatrical sound-events, functions considered partly from the characters’ point of view, partly vis-à-vis the audience. One of the conclusions drawn in this dissertation – though maybe not very revolutionary – is that music, under certain circumstances, and particularly in opera, may threaten the possibility of perceiving fictitious reality by more or less changing the event from a theatrical one to a kind of concert performance. Another conclusion, or perhaps rather an expansion of the former, is that many musical items which are considered high-quality products as “autonomous” music, may very well be inefficient as theatre-music (e.g. as “functional” music), and the reverse.
Translated title of the contributionTheatre-musical sound-events. A contribution to the study of music and adjacent sound-occurrences in spoken theatre and opera
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
  • Cognitive Science
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date2003 Nov 3
ISBN (Print)91-631-4414-x
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 2003-11-03
Time: 10:00
Place: Wrangel-huset, room 117, Biskopsgatan 5, Lund

External reviewer(s)

Name: Wiklund, Anders
Title: Prof.
Affiliation: Göteborgs universitet


Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Philosophy

Free keywords

  • ”Trennung der Elemente“
  • illusions
  • fiction
  • communication
  • semiotics
  • cognition
  • perception
  • multimedial art-works
  • melodramas
  • musicals
  • epic music-theatre
  • opera
  • paralinguistic
  • speech-song
  • instrumental signals
  • sound effects
  • overtures
  • Zwischenaktsmusik
  • entr’actes
  • incidental music
  • fictional music
  • diegetic music
  • Theatre-music
  • functional music
  • music and emotions.
  • Dramatic art
  • Teatervetenskap
  • Musicology
  • Musikvetenskap


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