Music Therapy and Psychoanalysis Network Meeting

28 January 2023

Reminding us how important it is to pay attention to silences, McLellan (1992) wrote of John Cage’s well-known ‘silent’ piece: “it can be “played’ on any instrument or none at all, so long as there is someone to listen to the silence and realise that it is full of sound”. While Cage’s 4 '33 opens an audience’s ears to how much silence sounds, I think we also miss much of what silences convey. It seems Cage’s piece could be entirely about listening. Focusing on the many, varied kinds of silences we experience in relational therapeutic work, we will think about the question: what is silence? Stimulating new thoughts about silences in relation to music therapy work, it is a question that is fundamentally about how we listen, and where we listen from.

The presentation begins with a brief revisiting of PhD research examining the detailed occurrence and management of silences during free improvised musical duets, and silences in everyday conversation. This research made use of both musical microanalysis and conversation analysis, identifying similarities and also important differences between verbal and musical exchanges. These findings are still relevant today and will be a solid base from which to consider music therapy improvisatory silences. Keeping a focus on psychoanalytic theory as a way to view and review music therapy work in the area of silence, we do not neglect musical phenomena and applied musical theory. Clinical vignettes will allow us to test out theories and compare these with our individual work contexts. With opportunity for smaller group discussion after the presentation, you are invited to add your own experiences to the discourse. Following this, the group comes back together, to gather up the various strands that emerge during the morning, and ultimately come up with ways of answering the questions posed by this fascinating aspect of music therapy.

Book your place here. There is no charge for BAMT members. Non-members may also attend meetings, but are requested to make a voluntary donation to BAMT. If you would like to join the music therapy and psychoanalysis network mailing list, please fill out the form here.

Luke Annesley, Martin Lawes, & Jackie Robarts, Music Therapy and Psychoanalysis Network Coordinators