Dissertation Index

Author: Malawey, Victoria L.

Title: Temporal Process, Repetition, and Voice in Björk's Medúlla

Institution: Indiana University Bloomington

Begun: August 2002

Completed: December 2007


Björk Gu∂mundsdóttirs 2004 album, Medúlla, is remarkable: it originates primarily from human voices, follows her long-standing tradition of collaborative work, and responds to particular events of the three years preceding the albums release. Musically, Medlla invites an inquiry into the nature of musical events in time, repetition and return, strategic change over the course of entire songs, music-text relations, and vocality.

Bjrk draws upon several themesancestry, paganism, pre-civilization, and motherhoodto unify the album. Her treatment and manipulation of the voice (e.g., nonverbal utterances, various styles of delivery) support these themes and imply musical personae and sonic corporeality through repetition, textual manipulation, textural effects, and emergent processes. Other uses of the voice highlight the musical qualities of the text (in contrast to linguistic meanings) through metric reinterpretation.

Approaching transcription as a vehicle for analysis, this study explores the functions of seven temporal effects (emergence, textural decay, textural reduction, expansion, contraction, metric suspension, and metric modulation) that shape the gradual unfolding of each song on Medlla. Temporal effects encompass musical phenomena that explicitly involve temporal context for their impact. Particular strategies of repetition, such as motoric repetition, motivic variation, textual repetition, and harmonic oscillation and stasis, also affect listeners expectations and perceptions of time in these songs. Entire songs and sections of songs project strategic courses of change that I analyze using a concept I call processive growth. My analyses relate different rates of change among musical parameters (including processes of acceleration and deceleration) and interactions among temporal effects, repetition, and return. A primary question I address is how music analysis can characterize processes of gradual change in the songs on Medlla. I draw on several analytic orientations to characterize hearing the songs in real time, listening to patterns shown in the transcriptions and paradigmatic diagrams, and experiencing musical emergence and processive growth in the songs.

Keywords: Bjrk, Medlla, voice, repetition, process, growth, time, temporal, texture, effect


Chapter 1. Situating the Idiosyncratic: Origins of Bjrks Medlla and Central Analytic Concepts

Chapter 2. I Want To Be Flexible: Temporal Effects (Part 1)

Chapter 3. I Am Elastic: Temporal Effects (Part 2)

Chapter 4. When Time? To ReturnDo It Now: Repetition and Return

Chapter 5. Pulsively towards: Processive Growth

Chapter 6. One Breath Away: Voice, Persona, and Body


Department of Music
Kenyon College
Gambier, OH 43022-9623
phone 740.427.5180
fax 740.427.5512

     Return to dissertations