Music in the Psychoanalytic Ear: Thinking, Listening and Playing

Research Day at the Institute of Musical Research

The Court Room, Senate House Library, London (WC1E 7HU)

9:00-17:30, Saturday 19th May 2018

A number of scholars in music studies have recently drawn on psychoanalytic ideas to make sense of musical experiences and meaning. At the same time, there are long-established links between music therapy and psychoanalysis; a large number of psychoanalysts, analytic psychotherapists and others working in this ‘talking’ tradition have themselves considered what music might mean in light of their clinical practice. However, despite influencing one another, these disciplines tend to operate independently, with practitioners of each rarely directly engaging those across the disciplinary divides. Musicologists, music therapists, and psychoanalysts have talked about music, but rarely do they speak to one another about music. This IMR research day addresses the need for interdisciplinary dialogue by asking: what can we learn about music when these disciplines begin to speak and listen to one another?

Organisers: Dr Rachel Darnley-Smith (University of Roehampton); Dr Samuel Wilson (Guildhall School of Music and Drama)


Panel 1 – Communities and Identities:

Chair: Helen Odell-Miller

Psychoanalysis beyond the Spoken Word: Musical Attachments in Therapeutic Communities — Kate Brown (Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist)

Using Lacan, Listening to the Tragically Hip: Pop Music, National Identity and ‘Objet a’ —Alexander Carpenter (Musicologist, University of Alberta)

Two Kinds of Music Therapy — Luke Annesley (Music Therapist)



Panel 2 – Technique and Method(s):

Chair: Samuel Wilson

Synchronicity, Music in the Mind and Psychological Transformation — Catherine O’Leary (Music Therapist)

Music, Temporality and Consciousness: Towards a Lacanian Understanding of Music as a Self-Reverting Act — Rebecca Day (Musicologist, Royal Holloway) 

‘It’s Music to my Psychoanalytic Ears’: Building Bridges Between Psychoanalysis and Music — Anastasios Gaitanidis (Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist, University of Roehampton)


Panel 3 – Sound, Listening, and Performance:

Chair: Christopher Tarrant

Psychoanalytically Informed Performance — Max Wong (Violinist and Musicologist, Royal College of Music)

Music as a Modality for Dream-Work in Improvisation Based Music Psychotherapy and in Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) — Martin Lawes (Music Therapist) 

Queer Resonances: Disoriented Listening Through Kristeva and Anzieu — Steven Moon (Ethnomusicologist, University of Pittsburgh)


Roundtable: “What are we listening to? What do we hear?”

Chair: Rachel Darnley-Smith

Invited speakers:

Rosemary Rizq

(Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist, Chartered Psychologist and Principal Lecturer at University of Roehampton)

Ann Sloboda

(Head of Music Therapy at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and Psychoanalyst)

Kenneth Smith

(Musicologist/Music Analyst, University of Liverpool)


The full conference programme (with abstracts) is available here

Link to registration (closed)


This study day is generously supported by the Institute for Musical Research in association with the School of Advanced Studies, the ResearchWorks Programme at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and the Department of Psychology at the University of Roehampton.


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