• Experiential time : the special world of music therapy composition

      Olsher, Dean (2015)
      Paul Nordoff challenged music therapists to compose original clinical music informed by works of master composers such as Mozart, Schumann, and Debussy. Nordoff’s understanding of idioms was derived from Rudolf Steiner's anthroposophical conception of musical archetypes. The notion of idiom as musical archetype is reframed here according to a cultural rather than mystical framework, to appeal more widely to music therapists of all orientations. This cultural worldview allows the identification of a new clinical idiom based on the gentle jazz piano style associated with children that emerged in American popular culture during the 1960s. Original compositions by the present author were created following Nordoff's process of absorbing music of the past. The new works are modeled on an updated canon of 20th-century American composers including Joplin, Copland, Evans, Guaraldi, Newman, and Waits. The emotional and psychological effects of various compositional procedures--including reharmonization, contrafact, the characteristic piece (Charakterstück), and musical recombination--are analyzed. A case report recounts in detail the creation of a therapeutic song in a clinical setting.