Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • L'Harmonie révée: An Analysis of Henri Pousseur's 'Votre Faust' And 'Les litanies d'Icare'

    Author:
    Andre Bregegere
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Joseph Straus
    Abstract:

    This dissertation consists of two chapters, largely self-contained, each dedicated to a different piece by Belgian composer Henri Pousseur (1929-2009). The first chapter presents a detailed survey of Pousseur's opera, Votre Faust, attempting to address all major aspects of this vast, ambitious work: origins and reception, compositional design, relationship with the Western operatic and literary tradition, formal experimentations, and harmonic innovations. The second chapter presents a detailed analysis of a work representative of Pousseur's more recent output, Les Litanies d'Icare (1993) for piano solo, focused on Pousseur's trademark techniques of parametric, serial design ("technique des groupes"), and on his unique harmonic methods ("technique des réseaux"). While largely independent from each other, these two chapters can, nevertheless, offer a larger view of the evolution--and, overall, remarkable consistency--of Pousseur's compositional methods, with two pieces representing the boundaries of the composer's post-Darmstadt career, from their early, experimental, inception in Votre Faust, to their more mature, controlled expression in Litanies. It is my hope that these two analyses can also contribute to bringing renewed attention to Pousseur's musical and theoretical work within North American, English-language scholarship.

  • The Seventeenth-Century Singer's Body: An Instrument of Action

    Author:
    Brooke Bryant
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Barbara Hanning
    Abstract:

    In the seventeenth century, singers relied both on their voices and movements of their bodies for affective expression. This study investigates the close relationship between the body and voice in the seventeenth century from a variety of viewpoints, both theoretical and practical, offering an interdisciplinary approach to this connection. The work of natural philosophers such as Galileo, Kepler, Descartes, Hooke, Huygens and Newton demonstrates sight's role as the fundamental sense through which the world was processed and understood during the seventeenth century. In this context, it is imperative to elevate the role of sight in sung performances to a position comparable to that of sound, an idea corroborated by contemporary descriptions of singing by Marino, Monteverdi and Tillet. I reexamine singing manuals and oratory, acting and iconography treatises published during this time--such as Mersenne's Harmonie Universelle, Butler's Principles of Musik in Singing and Setting, Tosi's Opinioni de' cantori antichi e moderni, Le Faucheur's Traitté de l'action de l'orateur, Hobbes's Briefe of the Art of Rhetoricke, Bulwer's Chirologia and Ripa's Iconologia--uncovering a wealth of information on how gestures of the face and hands and postures of the body may be used in song. Medical studies completed in the present and in the seventeenth century, such as Bartholin's Anatomy and Browne's Compleat Treatise of the Muscles, reveal that there are both physiological and psychological connections between the body and voice. The body plays an integral role in vocalization, which suggests that posture, movement and gesture may assist the singer in creating vocal sounds appropriate to the texts and music at hand. This research is applied to three pieces of music written for performance in different contexts: Strozzi's cantata Moralità amorosa (1654), the famous Act II recitative from Lully's Armide (1686) and "Morpheus, Thou Gentle God," a mad song by Daniel Purcell. (1699). A close reading of both music and text suggests that the composers wrote physical movement into these works, providing musical clues regarding the way that singers could manipulate their bodies in sung performances. These readings offer a new methodology for performers and historians seeking to investigate seventeenth-century performance circumstances.

  • Eastern and Western Concepts in Two Taiwanese Contemporary Works for Clarinet

    Author:
    Chiu-Yuan Chen
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Joseph Straus
    Abstract:

    In this dissertation, I examine in detail two contemporary clarinet works, Three Fantasias for solo clarinet (2006) by Yu-Hui Chang and All But Not At All for solo clarinet (2001) by Wei-Chieh Jay Lin, through the lens of performance practice. Each work reflects the composers' culture and training, and each combines Western and Eastern musical concepts. Through the use of Western compositional techniques, Chang and Lin exhibit various Chinese musical idioms, including pentatonicism, folk song quotation, traditional Chinese instrumental ornamentations and styles, and even Chinese philosophical ideas. In Three Fantasias, Chang vividly conveys her stories through a fusion of Taiwanese pentatonic folk song elements and the Western whole-tone and major scales. And in All But Not At All, Lin employs a trichordal set in various musical and conceptual dimensions through modeling the "trichordal array" techniques of his teacher Milton Babbitt. Besides theoretical and musical analyses, I include commentary from my interviews with the composers, interpretive suggestions from my own performing experience, and a CD of live performance recordings of these pieces.

  • Johann Nepomuk Hummel's Piano Etudes, Op. 125: A Pedagogical Analysis

    Author:
    Sun-Im Cho
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Sylvia Kahan
    Abstract:

    This study focuses on Hummel's Piano Etudes, Op. 125 (1833), his final works for piano solo. Hummel's etudes and his piano treatise Ausführliche theoretisch-practische Anweisung zum Piano-Forte Spiel (A Complete Theoretical and Practical Course on the Art of Pianoforte Playing) are his two monumental pedagogical works on the art of playing the piano, and together represent the sum total of his considerable expertise. The treatise, published in 1828 and copiously illustrated with examples and exercises, is primarily theoretical: its purpose is to explain the entire technique of piano playing. The etudes, which draw upon the essence of the ideas set forth in the treatise and which represent musical renderings of a variety of musical and technical problems, are entirely practical. In this study I analyze all twenty-four etudes and assess their importance in the context of the repertoire of piano pedagogy in general. Each etude is examined for its technical objectives, fingering, articulation, touch, dynamics, pedaling, and tempo. Whenever possible, the technical problems presented by an etude are directly correlated with Hummel's piano treatise. In passages where Hummel's instructions cannot produce the desired effect on the modern piano, an informed, alternative approach is suggested. These analyses will help the modern performer to develop a deeper understanding of Hummel's technique and a greater interpretative insight into his piano etudes.

  • Gendered Practices and Conceptions in Korean Drumming: On the Negotiation of "Femininity" and "Masculinity" by Korean Female Drummers

    Author:
    Yoonjah Choi
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Jane Sugarman
    Abstract:

    Korean drumming, one of the most popular musical practices in South Korea, currently exists in a state of contradiction as drumming, historically performed by men, is increasingly practiced by women. Women drummers who enter this male-dominated realm confront the "masculinization" of the practice, which is naturalized and normalized through the field's discourse and performance. At the same time, they seek a "femininity" that may help them to survive in the field. To examine these gendered conceptions and practices, I draw on the ways in which contemporary Korean traditional drum performers, predominantly professional female drummers, conceptualize, experience, perform, reinforce, and/or resist issues of gender in the field. My study presupposes that musical practices embody the underlying structures--shared meanings, values, and ideologies--that characterize a society, and that individuals both reinforce and challenge those structures through those practices. Based on the hypothesis that the supposed "masculinity" and "femininity" in drumming are constructed within the historical context of Confucianism, nationalism, and commercialization (in particular via mass media), I approach Korean drumming as a site in which gender conceptions are internalized, idealized, embodied, contested, or challenged by performers. To assess the state of women in Korean drumming, I pose the following questions: What kind of sociocultural environment encourages women's involvement in Korean drumming? How has drumming been historically constructed as male, and to what extent does this naturalize men as drummers and exclude women? Taking into consideration that both masculinity and femininity are influenced by such historical structures, how do women drummers negotiate between expressing the "masculinity" central to drumming culture and performing qualities typically categorized as "feminine"? In answering these questions within the discussion of "masculinity" and "femininity," women's bodies emerge as the focus. My research is predominantly based on interactions with professional drummers, through interviews and participant-observation. These drummers include primarily women but also men, and are involved in a variety of drumming styles including pungmul (percussion ensemble practice), samulnori (a modernized version of pungmul), and contemporary genres, as well as the drumming accompaniment in such genres as pansori (a theatrical play of story-telling and singing) and shaman rituals. Through assessing and analyzing the discourse and experiences contained within this material, my exploration of Korean drumming, a historically male musical domain increasingly populated by women, may shed light on similar processes both in historical male realms of other regions and in capitalist societies emphasizing "femininity" within consumer culture.

  • Sevcik's Analytics of Works By Mendelssohn and Bazzini: A Pedagogical Analysis

    Author:
    Amelia Christian
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    John Graziano
    Abstract:

    Otakar Sevcik (1852-1934) is one of the preeminent pedagogues of violin technique of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His well-known technical works are still in print and widely used. Sevcik's lesser-known Analytics apply his pedagogical methods to works in the standard violin repertoire. The primary focus of this dissertation is an examination and analysis of the pedagogical approach contained in two Analytics by Otakar Sevcik: Mendelssohn's (1809-1847) Violin Concerto in D (first movement), and Bazzini's (1818-1897) The Round of the Goblins. The analyses in this paper examine Sevcik's pedagogical and analytical techniques in order to more fully understand and describe his methodology. The secondary goal of this dissertation is to promulgate the Analytics and make them more widely available as resources for teachers and students. There also appears a brief survey of Sevcik's life, students, and purely technical works; his work is also placed within its historical context. Sevcik-style exercises are included for passages from Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto to demonstrate the application of his pedagogical and analytical ideas to other works. The appendices provide newly typeset publications of Sevcik's Bazzini Analytic as well as a performance score, edited with fingerings and bowings based on Sevcik's Analytic.

  • Originality and Complexity: An Analysis of Robert Schumann's Gesänge der Frühe, Op. 133

    Author:
    Eunjoo Chung
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    L. Poundie Burstein
    Abstract:

    In October 1853, Schumann wrote a set of five character pieces for piano entitled Gesänge der Frühe. During mid-1853, when Schumann composed this cycle, his creative energy was at its peak, as he exhibited remarkable pace and productivity. Schumann's unswerving enthusiasm for the Gesänge and its publication, which occurred in November 1855 as his Opus 133, is attested by many letters to his confidants during his final years. Perhaps due to the noticeably distinct compositional style of the Gesänge, as well as Schumann's mental illness during his late years that has been a source of much prejudice regarding his late compositions, relatively scant attention in both pedagogical and performing venues has been paid to this last piano cycle of Schumann. A comprehensive analytical study of the five Gesänge helps reveal much of this work's distinct compositional style, which represents both influences from the past and Schumann's personal originality.

  • Pannalal Ghosh and the Bânsurî in the Twentieth Century

    Author:
    Carl Clements
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Peter Manuel
    Abstract:

    Pannalal Ghosh (1911-1960) is credited with the introduction of the bânsurî (North Indian bamboo flute) into Hindustani classical music in the twentieth century. While the transverse flute played a significant role in the music of India at least since the early centuries CE, it had lost its status as a prominent instrument in Indian art music several hundred years before Ghosh brought it to the forefront of Hindustani classical music. Ghosh's achievement is considered in the context of his time in terms of the social, political, economic, technological, and musical circumstances in India, and particularly Bengal. While twentieth-century developments contributed to his success, it was ultimately through his own efforts that the bânsurî was accepted as a featured Hindustani classical instrument. By redesigning the instrument, working out a technique to emulate the subtleties of the voice, listening to diverse genres and styles of music, engaging in intensive study, and conceptualizing his own eclectic style of playing, he succeeded in convincing twentieth-century audiences that the bânsurî deserved a place as a valued instrument for the performance of Hindustani classical music. His achievement also paved the way for other instruments such as shahnâî, sârangî, and santûr to achieve similar recognition in the classical music of North India. I have drawn from elements of musical biography; Indian history; organology; music theory, transcription, and analysis; and anthropology to show how Ghosh's career is illustrative of a broader narrative of tradition and innovation in twentieth-century Hindustani classical music. My own studies of Hindustani classical music in the lineage of Pannalal Ghosh began in 1988, and provided a foundation for much of the work in this dissertation. Interviews with former students and associaties of Pannalal Ghosh, along with several articles about his life and work, enabled me to piece together his biography. Research into the history and culture of his time provided a clearer picture of the environment that shaped his life and musical development. Transcription and analysis of performances by Ghosh and other vocalists and instrumentalists helped me to situate his music within the context of North Indian classical music in the twentieth century.

  • The Contributions of Earl "Bud" Powell to the Modern Jazz Style

    Author:
    David DeMotta
    Year of Dissertation:
    2015
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Stephen Blum
    Abstract:

    This is an analytical study of pianist and composer Bud Powell's contributions to modern jazz (a.k.a. bebop or "bop"), focusing especially on the rhythmic and harmonic implications of Powell's improvisations. The analysis is informed by a series of interviews with professional jazz musicians and is supported by original notated transcriptions of Powell recordings. The aim of this project is to present a cogent technical and theoretical account of Powell's musical style that is grounded in the values of the contemporary jazz community and reflects that community's continued passion for and engagement with Powell. Chapter One, "Contemporary Pianists and Bud Powell's Music," summarizes the ways that eight professional jazz pianists conceive of Powell's contributions to contemporary performance practice and to their individual musical styles and paths of development. The participants explain the ways in which they engage with Bud Powell's music as listeners, students, teachers, and performers, speaking passionately about Powell's genius and providing accounts of how their study of Powell's music has contributed to their own development as artists and pedagogues. Chapter Two, "Bud Powell's Improvisations and the Aesthetics of Modern Jazz Rhythm," explores how Powell's improvised solos creatively encapsulate the textural and rhythmic essentials of the modern jazz style. Special attention is paid to the relationship between Powell's music and the textural developments of the rhythm section, especially advances in jazz drumming and the underlying harmonic rhythm as temporal reference. Topics include asymmetry of phrase placement and structure in relation to meter and cyclic form, irregular accents and left-hand "bombs," beat-one avoidance and negative accents, harmonic displacement, phrasing "over the barline," and cross-rhythmic groupings. Chapter Three, "A Model For Harmony and Voice-leading in Bud Powell's Linear-Melodic Improvisations," describes the harmonic implications of Powell's improvised lines. This analysis examines Powell's concept of harmony and voice leading during his negotiation of descending-fifths sequences and related progressions through a five-strand voice-leading model based on chord tones. Chapter Four, "A Case Study of Harmonic Paths and Voice-leading Discontinuities in Powell's Negotiation of Subdominant Tonicizations in `I Got Rhythm' Related A Sections," is a study of Powell's improvisation over measures five through eight of "rhythm changes" A sections, which present an obstacle to the descending-fifths-based harmony and voice-leading apparatus described in Chapter Three. Chapter Five, "Flatted Fifths in Bud Powell's Harmonic Approach," discusses the various ways in which Powell saturated his music with a sound essential to bebop, the dominant seventh flatted fifth chord. Discussing Powell's incorporation of this and related devices throughout his compositions and improvisations and in situations that vary in mood and tempo, this chapter offers a window into Powell's creative process by illustrating his ability to maximally exploit one highly idiomatic element of his vocabulary.

  • LADAKHI TRADITIONAL SONGS: A CULTURAL, MUSICAL, AND LITERARY STUDY

    Author:
    Noe Dinnerstein
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Stephen Blum
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines the place of traditional songs in the Tibetan Buddhist culture of the former Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh. I look at how Buddhism and pre-Buddhist religion informed the texts and performance contexts of traditional songs, and how Ladakhi songs represent cultural self-images through associated musical, textual, and visual tropes. Many songs of the past, both from the old royal house and the rural Buddhist populations, reflect the socio-political structure of Ladakhi society. Some songs reflect a pan-Tibetan identity, connecting the former Namgyal dynasty to both the legendary King Gesar and Nyatri Tsangpo, the historical founder of the Tibetan Yarlung dynasty. Nevertheless, a distinct Ladakhi identity is consistently asserted. A number of songs contain texts that evoke a mandala or symbolic representation of the world according to Vajrayana Buddhist iconography, ritual and meditative visualization practices. These mandala descriptions depict the social order of the kingdom, descending from the heavens, to the Buddhist clergy, to the king and nobles, to the common folk. As the region has become more integrated into modern India, Ladakhi music has moved into modern media space, being variously portrayed through scholarly works, concerts, mass media, and the internet. An examination of contemporary representations of "tradition" and ethnic identity in traditional music shows how Ladakhis from various walks of life view the music and song texts, both as producers and consumers. Situated as it was on the caravan routes between India, Tibet, China, and Central Asia, Ladakhi culture developed distinctive hybrid characteristics, including in its musical styles. Analysis of the performance practices, musical structures, form, and textual content of songs clearly indicates a fusion of characteristics of Middle Eastern, Balti, Central Asian, and Tibetan origin. Looking at songs associated with the Namgyal dynasty court, I have found them to be part of a continuum of Tibetan high literary culture, combined with complex instrumental music practices. As such, I make the argument that these genres should be considered to be art music.