"Tristan": The Prelude, the chord, and the implications Postlude to a musicological conundrum

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Music Theory and Composition

First Committee Member

Raymond A. Barr - Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

Paul Wilson - Committee Member


This dissertation represents the implementation of an innovative theory and methodology which invokes the holographic model of reality to solve some problems of music theory and historical musicology. The primary tools utilized in the paper are (1) Rupert Sheldrake's biological evolutionary model of the holarchy of nested morphic fields; (2) David Bohm's physical theory of the implicate and explicate orders; and (3) a set of ideas, proposed by the author, to rethink on holistic grounds some aspects of logic and mathematics. The name coined in the paper for this novel field of study is logoics. The results took the form of three related hypotheses: (1) the hypothesis of "musical taxonomy," which is an evolutionary model of musical types based on the concept of nested morphic fields; (2) the "post-Schenkerian" hypothesis, which involves a holographic revision of the principles of Schenkerian analysis; and lastly, (3) the "profundalist" hypothesis, which is an attempt at reconciling two rival approaches (the progressionalist and the functionalist) in the history of the theory of tonal harmony, a synthesis founded upon the mentioned "logoic" insights into the nature of reason and consciousness. In the dissertation, all three hypotheses are combined and brought to bear upon a notoriously unsolvable musicological riddle: the analytical problem posed by the opening progression of the Prelude to Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. The measure of success of the suggested solution serves as a simple test as to the viability of the three hypotheses.


Music; Philosophy; Psychology, General

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