Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

Filter Dissertations and Theses By:

 
 
  • Music and Genre in Film: Aesthetics and Ideology

    Author:
    Jordan Stokes
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Royal Brown
    Abstract:

    Abstract MUSIC AND GENRE IN FILM: AESTHETICS AND IDEOLOGY by Jordan Carmalt Stokes Adviser: Professor Royal S. Brown This thesis examines the multivalent relationship between film music and film genre: the ways that generic syntax and ideological structure shape the use and meaning of music within a genre, and the ways that music, in turn, shapes and complicates film genres and individual films within each genre. Detailed accounts of Melodrama, Horror, and the Western are provided, with examples drawn from (among others) Random Harvest (Mervyn LeRoy, 1941), Penny Serenade (George Stevens, 1941), Picnic (Joshua Logan, 1955), White Zombie (Edward and Victor Halperin, 1932), I Walked With a Zombie (Val Lewton and Jacques Tourneur, 1943), Cannibal Holocaust (Ruggero Deodato, 1980) High Noon (Fred Zinnemann, 1952), The 3:10 to Yuma (Delmer Daves, 1957), and The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (Sergio Leone, 1966). The first chapter, "Genre and Music," outlines three possible interactions of film genre and film music, drawing on three basic approaches to genre in the film studies literature: interpretive, economic, and reflexive genre criticism. The interpretive approach argues that each genre has a hidden ideological value system that shapes the narratives and aesthetics of the films within that genre, with musical ramifications that will vary from genre to genre. (A Western, for instance, might use self-consciously old-fashioned music not merely to establish the setting but to establish distance between the world of the audience and the relatively unconstrained world of the diegesis.) The economic approach shows how market forces shape the development of a genre, as when studios use the music from a successful film in the trailer for another film in the same genre. Finally, the reflexive approach accounts for the ways in which artists (and critics) self-consciously shape and react to genres, as when a composer tries to avoid the use of generic clichés when scoring a particular kind of film. The later chapters of this dissertation take a primarily interpretive approach to genre, but the economic and reflexive approaches having been laid out here as a program for future research. The second chapter, "Music in the Melodrama: Where Words Leave Off," argues that one of the currently dominant approaches to film music, according to which music is used to represent the fundamentally unrepresentable emotions of the characters, is in fact best suited to the scores of melodramas. This is, however, not the only thing music will do in melodramas: although it often depicts a character's repressed desires, it also depicts the collective will of the repressive society. This chapter also attempts to clarify the nature of the genre of melodrama (which is notoriously slippery, among film genre scholars), arguing that it is precisely the systematic use of aesthetic gestures such as music to represent underlying ideological conflicts that makes a film melodramatic. The third chapter, "Music in the Horror Film: Terror Chords and Jungle Drums," argues that the genre of horror is undergirded by a structural opposition between some marginalized group and the dominant social order, which in the films takes the form of the conflict between the monstrous Other and the monster's threatened victim. Each of which receives a musical illustration, leading to a contrast between the musical Other (representing, often quite explicitly, the marginalized group) and the music of normality. After developing a general model of horror scoring, this chapter attempts to demonstrate the value of genre for the understanding of specific film scores by making a special study of the Voodoo zombie films of the 1930s and 40s. Although it would be simple enough to suggest that these films are crudely racist, careful attention to their plots and scores reveals a surprising variety of musical meanings, and gives us reason to question common-sense notions of the "appropriate" use of ethnically marked music in film. The final chapter, "Music in the Western: The Cowboy's Epic Situation," advances a new definition of the Western, arguing that the genre is defined as much by an epic narrative voice (which privileges telling over showing, and makes the narrator imminent within the text) as by any subject matter or theme. This sense of epic distance is created in part through mise-en-abyme effects, including musical ones. In High Noon, for instance, a reoccurring song within the film recounts the plot of the film as it unfolds. However, there are also purely musical gestures that have the same effect: non-leitmotivic repetition of cues, the citation of specific musical styles outside of the "normal" language of film music, the use of elaborate performative musical gestures, and the use of simple and lucid musical forms. All of these call attention to the hand of the maker, and thus to the score (and the film) as a made thing.

  • THE CROSS-CULTURAL INFLUENCE OF THE FORMATION AND EVOLUTION OF PIANO PEDAGOGY AT THE SHANGHAI CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC

    Author:
    Yun Sun
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    John Graziano
    Abstract:

    This study evaluates the cross-cultural influences on the formation and the evolution of piano pedagogy at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music (SCM). It examines the principles of the teaching approaches of the four major professors of the first generation and the cross-cultural influences that informed their pedagogy. In addition, the discussion includes a review of pianist Fou Ts'ong and his contribution to the SCM. The narrative concludes with a brief look at the present faculty of the SCM; a summary discussion of the ideas, approaches, and educational system present there; and, above all, the cross-cultural influence of Western music on the field of piano teaching and study at the SCM.

  • Theater Without Words: Music for Movement Theater by Bartók and Milhaud

    Author:
    Andy Teirstein
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Royal Brown
    Abstract:

    THEATER WITHOUT WORDS: Music for Movement Theater by Bartók and Milhaud by Andy Teirstein Advisor: Professor Royal Brown In the first three decades of the twentieth century, the world of movement theater was undergoing an upheaval. Several composers created works that defied categorization in any of the prevalent genres, but existed somewhere between ballet, modern dance, pantomime or drama with incidental music. This project focuses on two such works, Béla Bartók's The Miraculous Mandarin and Darius Milhaud's L'homme et son désir. Each of these pieces finds a new vision of the mixture of movement, music and theater. They also share some subject matter, including archetypal views of man and woman, the evocation of city and folk or nature contexts, and a redemptive view of death. Stylistically, the works have two elements in common. They each use a wordless chorus, and they draw on folk or vernacular musical styles in the broader context of art music. The works are discussed in terms of their collaborative techniques and their musical expression of subject matter. Although the particular relationship between movement and music differs in these pieces, they are examined and compared as paradigms for the defiance of established genres. In the process, the boundaries between abstraction and representation are explored.

  • REDEFINING DIASPORA CONSCIOUSNESS: MUSICAL PRACTICES OF MOROCCAN JEWS IN BROOKLYN

    Author:
    Samuel Thomas
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Stephen Blum
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines the role of musical practices in the synagogue life of Maroka'im (Moroccan Jews) in Brooklyn, New York. Living in an urban setting known for its diverse and robust Jewish life, community members utilize several different types of musical expression to emblematize three distinct diasporic ethnic identities: Jewish (of ancient Israel), Sephardi (Spanish), and Maroka'i (Moroccan). Based upon ethnographic fieldwork carried out between 2008 and 2013, this study demonstrates how Maroka'im in Brooklyn use musical expressions to evoke more than one sense of diaspora consciousness--Jewish, Sephardi, and Maroka'i--to foster what I term a layered diaspora consciousness. To illustrate this layered diaspora consciousness, three domains of communal synagogue practice are analyzed. In the first domain, the ritual of sacred text cantillation called Kriat ha-Torah, community members rely upon a select repertoire of melodic motifs for chanting the Torah. These melodic motifs are instrumental in fostering a sense of pan-Maroka'i identity and for establishing co-ethnic recognition in communities throughout the Maroka'i diaspora. Choices about text, melody, and performance opportunities for processional liturgy and honorific songs determine the nature of associations with the Jewish and Sephardi diasporas. In the second domain, of hazzanut or the art of cantorial performance, close analysis reveals ways in which Maroka'im compile liturgical text repertoires, employ certain melodic tropes and contrafacta as vehicles for conjuring associations with several different Moroccan musical traditions, and emphasize rhythmic, melodic, and vocal performance aesthetics to stylize liturgical chant. Liturgical texts include idiosyncrasies related to each layer of diasporic identity; performance aesthetics emphasize stylistic idiosyncrasies that evoke associations with specifically Mediterranean and Maghrebian patrimonies. In the third domain, a ritual celebration for venerating tsaddiqim (Jewish saints) called a hillula, local practices emphasize a standardized song repertoire which is recognized throughout the Maroka'i diaspora. This repertoire includes pieces from several different musical and poetic genres valued by community members for their historical associations with Maroka'i identity and modern associations with a new iteration of a Sephardi-Mizrahi identity. Foregrounded in the synagogue life of Maroka'im in Brooklyn, musical expression is employed by community members to consistently reinforce and reiterate a sense of belonging to multiple Jewish diasporic ethnic communities.

  • Virgil Thomson and Kenneth Koch: Text Setting in the Songs "Mostly About Love"

    Author:
    Mary Thorne
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Norman Carey
    Abstract:

    The songs of Virgil Thomson, a major musical figure in twentieth-century America, go largely unsung. As a composer, Thomson took special care in setting words to music. This is evident in his more popular works, the operas set to librettos by Gertrude Stein, Four Saints in Three Acts (1928) and The Mother of Us All (1947). The success of these works supports the importance of a close examination of Thomson's song repertoire. This study examines four songs by Virgil Thomson set to poetry by Kenneth Koch. These four songs comprise the set Mostly About Love (1959): "Love Song," "Down at the Docks," "Let's Take a Walk," and "A Prayer to Saint Catherine." My approach utilizes the writings of Virgil Thomson and focuses on his use of "word-groups" discussed in his book Music With Words: A Composer's View. I examine the poetry of Kenneth Koch and the collaboration between Thomson and Koch. I provide a poetic and musical analysis to offer insight into the relationship between words and music in these songs. The purpose of this study is to reveal the lasting value of these songs, encourage their performance, and bring attention to Thomson's song literature.

  • Richard Strauss's Violin Writing in His Early Years From 1870 to 1898--The Influence of The Violin Sonata

    Author:
    Pei-Chun Tsai
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Norman Carey
    Abstract:

    The development of Richard Strauss's writing for violin from the early chamber music works up to the violin sonata, a milestone in his development, which foreshadows his compositional style for the violin parts in his tone poems. Performance suggestions and analysis of selected passages from the tone poems will demonstrate the relationship of those works to his earlier compositions. With an analysis of the Sonata for Violin and Piano Op. 18.

  • Xenakis in America

    Author:
    Charles Turner
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Joseph Straus
    Abstract:

    Iannis Xenakis had a long-standing interest in the U.S., but given the five years he spent here, little has been written about his experiences. This study attempts, through archival research and interviews, to document Xenakis’ time in the United States. Its subject is his relationship to American cultural institutions, and in what lured Xenakis here for musical composition and research. The narrative treats the period from Copland’s invitation to Tanglewood in 1963, through Xenakis’ 1972 investment by France as a state-supported artist. While he visited the U.S. many times thereafter, he no longer sought long-term engagement with U.S. institutions, but presented work completed elsewhere. After his summer at Tanglewood, I track performances of Xenakis compositions by Schuller, Foss and Bernstein (among others) throughout the 1960s and 1970s. I examine Xenakis’ association with Balanchine, and the reception of Xenakis’ theoretical writings, culminating in the publication of Formalized Music in 1971. I give an account of Xenakis’ collaboration with Alexis Solomos on Aeschylus’ Oresteia, produced in 1966 by the Ypsilanti Greek Theatre, as well as the founding of Xenakis’ research center CMAM at Indiana University in 1967, which he would build over the next five years. Concerning Xenakis’ reasons for coming to America, I argue for two major motivations. First, there were reasons to look beyond France: its state institutions, up to the late 1960s, provided little support for avant-garde composition. Later, there were reasons to return: with the Polytope de Cluny of 1972, the Ministry of Culture signaled a policy change that favored Xenakis, and established his CeMAMu as a state-supported research center. Second, Xenakis’ opportunities in the U.S. satisfied his interest in working outside the boundaries of autonomous composition. The collaboration on the Ypsilanti Oresteia offered Xenakis involvement with both ancient and modern Greek theater, and Bloomington’s sponsorship of CMAM, which included the equipment necessary for computer synthesis of sound, gave Xenakis access to technology unavailable in France at the time.

  • Contextual Transformations in Timbral Spaces

    Author:
    Tolga Tuzun
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Philip Lambert
    Abstract:

    This dissertation introduces a methodology for the analysis of timbral structures. The focus is on how to organize theoretical constructs based on timbral objects and their transformations in a musical composition. Transformational theory, artificial intelligence theory, music cognition, and psychoacoustics will serve as references while constructing multiple parallel approaches to the questions that arise from the perception of timbre-oriented music, i.e. electro-acoustic music, questions such as categorization and behaviors of sonic objects, processes that relate them, and challenges of new formal organizations. My intention is to supply analytical tools that are flexible and accessible enough to contribute to and coexist with pitch-based approaches. A generalized semantic theory of timbre is not the objective; this dissertation offers more of a cognitive exercise in how to uncover/discover contextual group operations in a timbral space

  • Julius Klengel (1859-1933) and Hugo Becker (1864-1941): Their Works and Legacies as Violoncello Performers and Pedagogues

    Author:
    Yu Chi Vicky Wang
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Barbara Hanning
    Abstract:

    Julius Klengel (1859-1933) and Hugo Becker (1863-1941) were two of the most influential cellists of the late nineteenth century. Both were closely associated with the Dresden cello-school tradition of Grutzmacher and masters of interpretation of Romantic-period composers. However, very little has been written about their respective beginnings, concertizing careers and accomplishments, teaching styles and materials, compositions and editions, and philosophies relating to cello technique. Nonetheless, Klengel's and Becker's legacies and contributions to cello literature and technique continue to influence cellists today. Thanks to the memoirs of their contemporaries and students through an analysis of recordings, technical studies, perofrmance editions, and published compositions, this dissertation attempts to investigat the different aspects of their respective careers, illuminating the similarities and differences between these two German master cellists. This dissertation also revisits the evolution of cello techniques, performance practices, and repertoire just prior to the emergence of Casals's revolutionary teaching philosophies, which shaped the succeeding generation of cellists.

  • A HIstory of the New York Flute Club

    Author:
    David Wechsler
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Bruce MacIntyre
    Abstract:

    Abstract A History of the New York Flute Club by David J. Wechsler Advisor: Dr. Bruce MacIntyre The New York Flute Club is one of the oldest organizations of its kind in the United States. The club has been a fixture on the New York City music scene since its inception in 1920. It was formed as a gathering place for amateurs and professionals alike to promote the flute in both social and performance contexts, and has had a direct impact on the musical life of flutists who have come to New York City to study and perform. From the historic perspective, it has provided a meeting ground for flutists to network for many years. From an artistic viewpoint, it has been a place to hear many styles of flute repertoire: from the many premieres of conservative style new works to cutting-edge avant-garde pieces; from standard works to chamber music. In addition to conventional flute concerts, there have been early music, jazz, electronic, avant-garde, and ethnic flute performances. The idea for the NYFC took shape in 1920, when a group of seventeen flutists met at the home of its founder, French émigré Georges Barrère, to play the Kuhlau Grand Quartet op. 103. Barrère was then the principal flutist of the New York Symphony Orchestra and flute professor at the Institute of Musical Art (predecessor of The Juilliard School). The club was incorporated in the State of New York on December 31, 1920 and held its first meeting five days later. The Club's activities in the first decade were regularly covered by The Flutist magazine, published by Dr. Emil Medicus, and early programs included flute ensemble music and the works of contemporary composers, including several women. In more recent years, the club has released recordings, mounted exhibits at the New York Public Library at Lincoln Center, introduced competitions, done outreach to schools, and started an annual flute fair. The club's value to scholarly research lies in its longevity as an organization, its advocacy of the French style of flute playing, its flexibility in a time of changing artistic tastes, and the large number of concerts that have been performed by great flutists for the past 91 years. It is a club worth knowing more about. The appendixes to this study include a detailed chronology of the repertoire and personnel of the club's concerts, as well as separate lists of concerts performed by officers and/or key personnel of the club whose presence in the club's history is noteworthy. These include John Wummer, Harry Moskovitz, Paige Brook, and Eleanor Lawrence.