• Saison 2017-2018 - None - None > Michel Imberty : la psychologie de la musique au-delà des sciences cognitives
  • April 11, 2018
  • Ircam
  • Program note: Michel Imberty
  • Alessia R. Vitale (conférencier)

In the context of the history of arts, singing holds a particularly important place. It carries the living trace of the awakening of a “pre-re ectivity” on the basis of which cognitive, corporeal, affective, linguistic and relational schemas can be developed. There can be no singing without the actualisation of this personal history, one that is perhaps “latent” in the subject. For this reason, all work on the voice has to come to terms with this history. Through music we get back to a sense of history, the history of each individual, allowing us to make contact with history as such, thereby understanding history through the art of singing. This text bears on the crucial importance of experiencing the study of one’s own voice across the spatio-temporal envelope of a didactic situation. The re ections you will nd here are not just the fruit of my interdisciplinary research but also stem from my experience as singing teacher - music therapist. I will especially refer to my work in a psy- chiatric ward in a Parisian hospital where I teach singing to those suffering from anorexia through one-on-one lessons (Vitale 2015). One question arises from the very beginning: in what ways and how are the dynamics triggered by the study-practice of singing accompa- nied by an expert different from those induced by the study-practice of other arts (Vitale 2014a), likewise accompanied by an expert? In addition, in what way is singing different from the discipline of working and training on any other instrument? In other words, what is implied by the gradual transition from the voix to the instrument-voix (Vitale 2013a) and in which speci c way? By instrument-voix I mean the voice considered in all its polyvalence and its multi-functionality, when it is studied as having the value of a musical instrument (Vitale 2007b:101). I had to create this notion of the instrument-voix to come to grips with what pertains exclusively to this particular instrument (Vitale 2007c; 2009c). In fact, the voice cannot be limited to the sole function of furnishing a musical instrument, given that is determined by phenomenological characteristics that are quite unique. It is both multi- functional and polyvalent, which gives it an extraordinary exibility and, in consequence, a potential to be exploited in terms of the study of self-development. The relation of the individual to his or her own voice is important from many standpoints – expression, commu- nication, inter-subjective relation – and even in uences the dynamics of learning.
The huge spectrum of the work done by the voice and across the voice cannot be handled here in an exhaustive manner; nevertheless, given the impact of this work on our human faculties, I would like to clarify certain aspects linked to the dynamics mobilised by the study of singing:
A) On the mental plane, singing reinforces the development of our cognitive faculties.
B) On the verbal-linguistic plane, singing is the bearer of the verbal later on, just as it goes right back to the beginnings of the pre-verbal.
C) On the bodily plane, the study of singing develops our sensorimotor coordination whose fundamental unit is a gesture (Vitale 2013b, 2018), a gesture that in turn is the foun- dation of human communication. But what is the nature of a gesture? Does a gesture have a voice? And the voice, for its part, can it be considered a gesture? Notably singing deve- lops a complex coordination between internal vocal gestures and external vocal gestures, with regard to which I have developed the hypothesis that the vocal gesture is linked to the dual origin of external vocal gestures, in the text and internal vocal gestures, in the score (Vitale 2008; 2009b; 2014b).
D) On the plane of interaction, the study of singing is an exceptional tool, enabling us to listen both to ourselves and to others.
E) On the social plane, alongside the solitary practise, singing can also reinforce a collec- tive practise (like being part of a choir, of a group etc.) and vice versa. The combinatory possibilities of the instrument-voix lend themselves to the formation of a wide range of groups, according to the type of voice as determined by sex, age etc., without excluding that of collaborating with other instruments. Working on one’s own voice to make an ins- trument of it implies developing a capacity for autonomy and cohesion, given that one has to work in a variety of ways, sometimes alone, sometimes in teams, trying at all times to assess the true quality of one’s presence, of one’s own contribution, all of which leads in general to a respect for the rules needed to preserve the equilibrium of the group.
For many years I taught individually singing to persons who experienced violence in childhood. Teaching in a hospital with suicidal patients is quite different from teaching at a school, which is why I had to be speci cally trained for it and must follow a very strict protocol.
My didactic experience teaches me that there is a close relationship between the skin and the voice. The body has memories that are tightly connected to the voice as an incorpo- rated instrument. It is impossible to play a broken violin with holes; the same is true for the physical and psychological body of the instrument-voix ! I will present the case study of an anorexic patient, 13 years old and already hospitalized for a year. The rst goal that I set for suicidal patients is to nd and develop the foundations of a joie de vivre in order to increase their vitality and consequently strengthen their survival instinct (Vitale 2015; in press). How can studying singing help me to increase these patients’ joie de vivre? What is the particular interest of studying singing in hospital?
Singing involves in a speci c way an interesting work on perception; self-perception; cogni- tion; unconscious image of itself; self-con dence / self-esteem, ...
Continuing my research presented at Harvard rst and then in Texas for «Exploring the Mind through Music 2016 » organized by Rice University and Methodist Hospital of Houston as a Fellow (Sponsors: Houston Methodist Hospital Center for Performing Arts Medicine, National Science Foundation and the Deschko Family Found), I will illustrate a synthesis of my more recent studies based on my teaching experience of singing for anorexic patients (cf. Vitale 2015).

Michel Imberty : la psychologie de la musique au-delà des sciences cognitives - 2e jour

Si les travaux de Michel Imberty dans le domaine de la psychologie cognitive de la musique sont connus (Entendre la musique, 1979, Les écritures du temps, 1981), ils ne s’inscrivent dans les courants comportementalistes et structuralistes de l’époque que d’une manière particulière et partielle. Dans ces ouvrages comme dans les nombreux articles qui suivront, progressivement se dégagent deux thèmes interdisciplinaires et surtout une position épistémologique plus proche de celle de l’anthropologie ou de l’ethnomusicologie, position qu’on pourrait qualifier de phénoménologique. Ces deux thèmes sont d’une part la temporalité et /ou le temps musical – le plus ancien dans sa réflexion - , la nature et l’origine de la musicalité humaine d’autre part, concept central développé parallèlement dans l’ouvrage de 2005, La musique creuse le temps. Or c’est aussi dans cet ouvrage que la position phénoménologique du chercheur est affirmée, car la réflexion sur le temps musical pose non seulement des problèmes de cognition au sens classique, mais des problèmes de sens et de signification qui étaient déjà la matière des deux premiers ouvrages. Le sens pose la question de l’intentionnalité, et on ne peut travailler sur la musique – comme sur toute œuvre humaine – sans s’interroger à la fois sur les conduites (du compositeur, de l’exécutant-interprète, de l’auditeur), et sur le sens que ces conduites ont pour ceux qui en sont les actants intentionnels. Plus encore, on ne peut le faire sans s’interroger sur le sens que tout cela prend pour le chercheur lui-même, le sens qu’il donne à sa recherche par rapport à ce que les sujets qu’il interroge en perçoivent eux-mêmes.

En interrogeant la musique à travers un large champ de recherche, qui va des théories psychanalytiques au bouclage du temps dans un parcours « proto-narratif » tel que la biologie contemporaine en relève les traces dans le fonctionnement cérébral, Michel Imberty a ouvert un espace considérable à l'interprétation des faits musicaux, et ses écrits interrogent aussi bien le musicologue et l'analyste de la musique que le psychologue ou le philosophe qui s'intéresse à la manière dont l'être humain donne sens à la temporalité. Ce colloque, intitulé « Michel Imberty, la psychologie de la musique au delà des sciences cognitives » se propose d’accueillir les contributions de chercheurs qui ont été à un moment ou à un autre de leur parcours, marqués par cette pensée qui fait entendre le fait musical sous un angle radicalement renouvelé.

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