Abstracts
 
 

Paramusicology: An Investigation of Music and Paranormal Phenomena

Ph. D. Thesis, 1999, University of Sheffield, UK

The purpose of this thesis is to explore musical anomalies that are allegedly paranormal in origin. From a wide range of categories available, three areas are investigated: music and telepathy; music written by mediums professedly contacted by dead composers; music being heard where the physical source of sound is unknown and presumed to be paranormal.

In the first part a method of sensory masking (referred to as Ganzfeld) is used to study the possibility of the emotional or physical content of music being capable of mind transference. A further experiment presents additional results relating to the highests additional results relating to the highest scoring individuals in the previous trials. No systematic evidence for the telepathic communication of music was found. In the second section a number of mediums and the music they produced are investigated to examine the truthfulness of their claims of spiritual intervention in compositions and performances. Methods of composition are investigated and the music is analysed by experts. For the final part of the thesis locations are specified where reports of anomalous music have been asserted and people claiming to have heard such music are introduced and their statements examined. Literature from a variety of data bases is considered to ascertain whether the evidence for paranormal music consists of genuine material, misconceived perceptions or fraudulent claims. Only a very few examples of fraud are discovered, but seemingly genuine anomalies are generally found to consist of mistaken identities or the embroidery of anecdotal facts. It would appear that human susceptibility and enthusiasm for the paranormal are responsible for most of the data discovered.

The results bring together information on two subjects that have not previously been seriously linked.

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