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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)



First Advisor

Lois N. Harrison

First Committee Member

J. Marc Jantzen

Second Committee Member

Gwenneth L. Browne

Third Committee Member

Carl Nosse

Fourth Committee Member

Robert R. Orpinela

Fifth Committee Member

Helmut H. Riemer


Purpose: The purpose of this dissertation is to investigate the hypothesis that the practices of conceptual art have implications for music education.

Procedure for the Study: After an introduction in which conceptual art is described and defined as a modern experiential art form, the study includes: 1. presentation of historical antecedents for conceptual art; 2. description of the development of conceptual art and its various practices, chronologically; 3. comparison and contrast of five extant theories of art with conceptual art in order to demonstrate conceptual art's apparent inexplicability; 4. distillation and summary of fifteen characteristics of conceptual art; 5. application of the implications drawn from these characteristics to general principles of music education.

Findings: Historical antecedents began with Post-Impressionist thought in the arts in general. The "avant garde" aesthetic perspective included: 1. a trend toward greater freedom and individuality; 2. a search for commonality among the arts; 3. the desire to shed traditional, Romantic practices and methodologies. The development of conceptual art began with the work of Marcel Duchamp; new practices flowed from his experiments with non-objective art that blurred the line between art and non-art. The experiential quality of doing art became paramount especially in Futurist, Dadaist, and Surrealist movements. Musicians such as John Cage began working with new techniques and technologies. Assemblages, environments, and happenings dominated the radical, sometimes protestant, conceptual pieces of the SO's and 60's. The "idea" began to replace the "object" as the primary motivation for doing art in the 70's and 80 s. Conceptual art was found to be quite incompatible with five extant theories of art: Imitationism, Emotionalism, Expressionism, Communicationism, and Formalism. Fifteen characteristics were derived from the analysis and were explored for implications in music education.

Conclusions: Most of the characteristics of conceptual art have relevance to the current practice of music education. Benefits such as engendering individual creativity and expanding creative thinking are compatible and supported by music educators. Conceptual art may promote a sense of an interdisciplinary participation for the student of music, where ideas and processes can be exchanged across the curriculum. The practice of conceptual art is still experimental and defies categorization.



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