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The Musical Matrix Reloaded

Contemporary Perspectives and Alternative Worlds in the Music of Beethoven and Schubert

Barbara Barry

The Musical Matrix Reloaded proposes a striking new scenario for the music of Beethoven and Schubert in the contemporary world. It draws on the theory of Multiple Worlds in physics, and on sci-fi and movies, as powerful contemporary models of alternative realities to explain radical features of interpolation, dislocation, and ultimately of return.

Confronting familiar assumptions about Beethoven’s and Schubert’s music as long-range consonance, the book proposes instead that musical action is predicated on an underlying disruptive energy, Nietzsche’s Dionysian disruptive background re-interpreted in the contemporary world. When it breaks through the musical surface, it dislocates continuity and re-routes tonal narrative into new, unforeseen directions. These unforeseen paths enable us to glimpse in Beethoven’s and Schubert’s music the beautiful, and often haunting, reality of another world.

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12. Multiple ‘Personas’ in Parallel Worlds: Shakespeare’s Ghosts and the Return of Schubert’s ‘Doppelgänger’


Hamlet:     “There’s ne’er a villain dwelling in all Denmark,

:     But he’s an arrant knave.”

Horatio:     “There needs no ghost, my lord, come from the grave,

:     To tell us this.”

Hamlet:     “Why right, you are i’ the right.” Hamlet.1

Against his expectations the age of reason was proving something of a disappointment. Anita Brookner2

Contemporary society, projected through blogs and subcultures, tweets and Facebook, has evolved into a simultaneity of parallel worlds. Parallel worlds are not so much about looking for other life forms ‘out there’ in the galaxy – although there is plenty of interest in these, real or robotic – so much as how physical existence has been infiltrated by multiple layers of alternative realities, such as action movies, sci-fi and internet gaming, and shaped by the compulsive insecurities of social media.

Familiar as it is today, the theory of parallel worlds has a comparatively recent history. It was first introduced, as described in Chapter 1, by the physicist Hugh Everett in a paper given in 1957, although for a long time Everett’s work was effectively ignored, as he was considered to be eccentric and his ideas out of sync with the then-current preoccupation with string theory.3 Everett started his exploration of parallel worlds from a well-documented phenomenon in quantum mechanics. A measurement in the seemingly random movement of sub-atomic ←315 | 316→quarks and positrons has the unexpected result of causing the particles to line up on...

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