University of Surrey

Test tubes in the lab Research in the ATI Dance Research

Metaphors of the Spiritual in Music Education: A Perennialist Interpretation of Musical Improvisation.

Sansom, Matthew (2012) Metaphors of the Spiritual in Music Education: A Perennialist Interpretation of Musical Improvisation. In: 30th ISME World Conference on Music Education, Music Paedeia: From Ancient Greek Philosophers Toward Global Music Communities., 2012-07-15 - 2012-07-20, Thessaloniki, Greece..

Sansom 2012 Metaphors of the Spiritual in mUsic education MotSiME_v5.pdf
Available under License : See the attached licence file.

Download (148kB)
Text (licence)

Download (33kB)


This paper presents a model for understanding spirituality in music making from a perennialist philosophical perspective. Drawing from experience teaching free improvisation and computer-based music making, the paper aims to speak to music educators interested in finding ways of articulating something of the intuitively experienced significance and meaning of their role and practice. The paper takes a definitional approach to spirituality that emphasises the techniques and epistemologies associated with efforts to realise truths about the human condition in relation to the transcendent. Although connected with religious faith and practice, it acknowledges its relative independence by virtue of similarities in spiritual experience that cross and depart from such traditions. Another significant emphasis is the integrative potential of spirituality in terms of enhancing an individual’s sense of inner unity, and in achieving greater connectedness to others and broader reality (ultimately the transcendent). This approach exists in relation to perennial philosophy, which is rooted in the understanding that there exists shared and universally true knowledge in all authentic religious traditions and experiences throughout history. (Nelson, 2009, p. 122). On the basis of this approach, the paper presents a framework for and interpretation of the spiritual significance of musical creativity organised around the themes of (i) motivation, (ii) methodologies, and (iii) principles. Using examples from teaching and participating in improvised and computer-based musical practice, parallels are explored between the procedures and experiences of creative musicianship and the defining characteristics of the perennial tradition. As these parallels are identified and discussed, the nature of the relationship between music and spirituality according to this approach is defined. The framework and its interpretative method offer a way for those interested in the experiential connections between music and spirituality to understand the deeper significance of working in and through the medium of music: ultimately, as a metaphor that reflects and directs to the Real. Nelson, J. M. (2009) Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality (Springer)

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Conference Paper)
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Authors :
Date : 2012
Related URLs :
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 21 Jul 2017 13:02
Last Modified : 16 Jan 2019 16:47

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

Information about this web site

© The University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7XH, United Kingdom.
+44 (0)1483 300800