Aspects of Traditional Japanese Aesthetics and their Influence in Contemporary Compositional Practice

  • E Kampylis

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Musical Composition


My creative practice, as a European composer, is driven by a deep emotional, philosophical, and creative engagement with some principal concepts in traditional Japanese aesthetics; more specifically, the concepts of ma (aesthetically placed empty intervals in space and time) and wabi-sabi (the idea that nothing is perfect, nothing is finished, nothing is forever). A detailed analysis of the concepts of ma, wabi-sabi, and Japanese aesthetics in general is beyond the scope of this thesis. Instead, the purpose of this study is to examine, through the creation of new works, whether these concepts could work as aesthetic and structural fundamentals for a compositional practice that is so far removed from the world of traditional Japanese arts (where these concepts have flourished) both culturally and chronologically. I wish to investigate ways of bridging the world of Western contemporary composition with that of traditional Japanese aesthetics and communicate my ideas regarding these concepts by incorporating them into my creative practice.
Date of Award1 Oct 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorNeal J Farwell (Supervisor) & Michael P Ellison (Supervisor)


  • ma
  • wabi-wabi
  • contemporary compositional practice
  • traditional Japanese aesthetics
  • shakuhachi

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