Deconstruction In Music is the title of my PhD dissertation from 2002. It was the first online, interactive and OA dissertation of Erasmus University Rotterdam (NL). It consists of five different entries to discover how deconstruction can articulate itself in/through/as music.

  • In The Gift Of Silence [donner les bruits]: On Music, Noise And Silence the apparantly clear borderlines between music, noise, and silence are questioned, mainly through the work of John Cage.
  • Specters Of Bach: On Gerd Zacher’s Kunst einer Fuge deals with a project of German church organist Gerd Zacher in which he deconstructs the first counterpoint of J.S. Bach’s Kunst der Fuge (The Art of Fugue).
  • In a totally different way deconstruction appears in the music of John Zorn. Restitutions, Shibboleth or Aporias: On John Zorn and Burt Bacharach shows how deconstruction is at work in Zorn’s CD Great Jewish Music: Burt Bacharach.
  • The Truth in Teaching: On Deconstruction in Music Education knows a different approach. Point of departure here is the practice of teaching jazz music at a music school. What can deconstruction imply for teaching materials, teachers, and students in jazz education.
  • These four parts are, as it were, framed by Outwork. Deconstruction In Music: An Introduction. Besides some important ‘credentials’ (e.g. the ethical implications of deconstruction), this part focusses on the relation between this PhD dissertation and other musicological works informed by post-structuralism and deconstruction.

Five times around music. Wandering about/along/with music. Five times. Wandering from the straight and narrow of the order, of linearity, i.e. the teleology of an end in a beginning.
Around music … Hesitating … Groping … ‘Reticence, as you know, is the figure of a deliberate keeping-quiet so that more than eloquence can be heard in it’, Derrida writes in Of Hospitality (p.95). How does one write with restraint? How is this task fulfilled?

Jacques Derrida and Marcel Cobussen

Five times around music. Not denying the existence of gaps and uncertainties, not disguising problems, not trying to be complete or rounded-off. Not a clear method that seeks to decipher a truth but a series of encounters that affirms play. No conclusions. To arrive at conclusions would be to assume an authority I do not have.
So, without any decisive ending … Not knowing where and when to end my writing around/beside/through music … Not knowing where to begin my writing … But … it has already begun. It has always already begun …

Go to the complete online dissertation