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Cavell, M. (1998). A Discussion of Music and Use of the “Name-of-the-Father” in Bach's “Well-Tempered Clavier.” Sebastian Leikert. Pp. 218-243. Psychoanal Q., 67(3):533.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: A Discussion of Music and Use of the “Name-of-the-Father” in Bach's “Well-Tempered Clavier.” Sebastian Leikert. Pp. 218-243

(1998). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 67(3):533

A Discussion of Music and Use of the “Name-of-the-Father” in Bach's “Well-Tempered Clavier.” Sebastian Leikert. Pp. 218-243

Marcia Cavell

The author tries to develop an understanding of music based on the difference between the two systems of writing in music and in language. Music offers no fixed connection between signifier and signification as they are brought about in language by sequences of letters. Therefore, the “Name-of-the-Father,” whose recognition guarantees psychic stability, cannot be introduced into the discourse of music. The Well-Tempered Clavier by Johann Sebastian Bach shows how the composer reacts to this dilemma. In a difficult situation both in his own life and in the history of music, Bach uses a cryptographic device: he interweaves his own name B-A-C-H with the score and thereby replaces the missing “Name-of-the-Father.”

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Article Citation

Cavell, M. (1998). A Discussion of Music and Use of the “Name-of-the-Father” in Bach's “Well-Tempered Clavier.” Sebastian Leikert.. Psychoanal. Q., 67(3):533

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