J-S Bach
John Cage
John Zorn



Deconstruction in Music. Deconstruction in Music. By Marcel Cobussen. Signed by me, Marcel Cobussen. Signed to be my property. Such an inscription is supposed to guarantee what is very vaguely called the originality of the text; it is supposed to guarantee a clear origin, a unified authority, a well-defined producer who takes and who gets responsibility. This is not the place to delve into the problems that such an appropriation entails. (The problem of citation and the use of quotation marks for example. Both refer to the responsibility of an other, someone who is absent in another way than 'I' am absent in this text. These quotations are not 'my' property; they are an outside within the inside. Parerga perhaps. Or the problem of translation. A translation - and this website has been translated - is a (re)reading of the 'original' text. And as we know, every (re)reading, every translation means a simultaneous transformation. What about my responsibility for something I did not in fact write? What about my property? Why my signature? Finally, the problem of authority and originality: Roland Barthes' insight that a text does not release a theological meaning - the message of an Author-God - but a multidimensional space in which a variety of texts, none of them original, blend and clash.)
This is not the right place for these problems. I elaborate upon them elsewhere on this site (cf. for example The Signature of John Zorn).
Nevertheless, each person writing his acknowledgments is aware of the idea that (s)he is not the only one responsible for the realization of the work. She or he in fact describes the work as a shared property. Conventions ask for clarity: one or more clearly identifiable authors. And (other) conventions provide for one opportunity to escape this all too rigid clarity: acknowledgements. Let me keep to these conventions here.

First, I thank my supervisors, Professor Ton Bevers, Dr. Antoon van den Braembussche (both are from Erasmus University Rotterdam), and Professor Rokus de Groot (University of Amsterdam). Professor Bevers and Dr. van den Braembussche created an institutional environment that often looked like a nice playground to me: they gave me the opportunity and the support to explore the world of music and deconstruction. Professor de Groot kept me from making too many musicological mistakes and encouraged me in the choice of my subjects.
I thank all my friends and colleagues at the university and elsewhere who contributed in very different ways to the realization of this work. Some of these friends were more important to me than I was often able to express. I thank the many who took the effort to respond to my questions and e-mails, especially Professor Samuel Gilmore (UC Irvine) and Professor Gregory Ulmer (University of Florida).
I thank John Zorn and Professor Gerd Zacher for reading and commenting on my texts and for giving me permission to use their music on this website. I thank the musicians who worked with me on the realization of the Intermezzo project that resulted in two CD's and that became so important for the section on deconstruction and music education: trumpet player Eric Vloeimans, cellist Ernst Reijseger and the band Intermezzo of the Rotterdam School of Music. I thank composer Edwin van de Heide for his soundscapes that traverse some pages of this website.
In 2002, the multi-media company Human-I/Frank Visser created and financed the first website of this dissertation. In 2020, my good friend Bart Weijland composed a completely revised version.

Writing a dissertation seems to be a very solitary activity. And so it was perhaps in the first two years of my Ph.D. appointment. However, writing and talking about a subject that fascinates me, that retained possession of me, opened a space for me to meet people who I probably would not have otherwise met. So this initially solitary activity revealed a new social life. In 1998, I met Professor Mirjana Veselinovic-Hofman (University of Belgrade, Yugoslavia) at a conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia. She became an important kindred spirit; her approach to deconstruction and music often inspired me while writing this dissertation. I thank her for her attention and responsiveness, especially at a time when the political situation in Yugoslavia asked for other priorities. I regard my journey to conferences held in New York and Toronto in the Autumn of 2000 as a modest breakthrough. For the first time, I had the opportunity to talk with the 'founding fathers and mothers' of American post-structuralist or post-modern musicology about my work. I thank Professor Susan McClary (UCLA), Professor Richard Leppert (University of Minnesota), Professor Lawrence Kramer (Fordham University), Professor Rose Subotnik (Brown University), and Professor Lydia Goehr (Columbia University) for their professional and inspiring comments on my texts and also for their warm social reception and sensitivity.

Up until now, I passed over three people. Rutger and Thérèse Cornets de Groot took care of the translation and/or correction of this work in order to make it idiomatic English. However, does this flag cover the cargo? 'The quality of a good' translation can never be captured by the original' is the slogan they use. A positive version of the idea that every translation is a transformation. What about my 'property', my 'authority', my signature? Often we had long e-mail discussions both on linguistic items and subjects concerning content. (How clear is the border between these two? As you know, the alteration of a word or sentence immediately also transforms the meaning and the content.) The texts often changed on the basis of their (re)marks. I thank Rutger and Thérèse for their accurate and creative work.
I am coming to the last stop. Professor Geraldine Finn (Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada). Our first e-mail contacts date back to September of 2000. Since that time, she has read and reread every page, every sentence, every word on this website with the utmost precision and attention. She gave me the opportunity to discuss the difficult parts of this dissertation in countless e-mails, long phone calls, and several 'in-person' encounters. When I'd had enough she inspired me to continue; when I was quite satisfied with some of the texts, she provided effective but constructive criticism. I wish every Ph.D. candidate such a knowledgeable and kind supervisor. I hope this work does sufficient credit to her tremendous investment.

This work is dedicated to the one who experienced firsthand its realization (though often was very sleepy).

Readers are invited to write to me with regard to any amendments and/or additions that will be taken into consideration in future revisions.
Marcel Cobussen can be contacted at M.A.Cobussen[at]