Presented at the Grieg Conference in Berlin May 15, 2009
Wojciech Stępień, Poland
Ph.D., The Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music
Grieg’s uncanny – representations of Scandinavian mythical
Freud’s essay „Das Unheimliche‟ (1919) [The „Uncanny‟] provides a key reference point not only in discussions of art and literature but also of music. The term ‘uncanny’ means that something frightening “leads back to what is known of old and long familiar”. This thing is at the same time both very familiar and completely alien for observers or subjects, which renders the uncanny object disorienting and ambiguous. Amongst the most typical examples listed by Freud include human corpses, skeletons, parts of bodies, ghosts and animated spirits. Some musicologists have applied successfully the notion of the uncanny to music that represents or depicts topics such as ventriloquism, automatism, doubles and repetitive compulsion. Although the category of the „uncanny‟ in music generally concerns these topics, it can appear also in the harmonic structure of tonal music.
Download the whole paper here
Wojciech Stepien paper 2009