Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • Producing Incantations: Salvatore Sciarrino's Works for Flute

    Author:
    Roberta Michel
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Shaugn O'Donnell
    Abstract:

    Salvatore Sciarrino's works hold a seminal place in the avant-garde repertoire of the late twentieth century. Sciarrino's musical language is not widely understood, nor are his unique techniques for playing many instruments. Of the two instruments he most consistently favors, the piano and the flute, the flute is the instrument with which he repeatedly achieves human intensity and breathable warmth. In this dissertation I show how he creates a new sonic palette, fabricating a new instrument out of the traditional flute, a "superflute" of sorts. Using his first volume of solo flute music, I borrow Sciarrino's own analytical tools to analyze these works, using his "figures" as interpretive, as well as analytical, tools. Sciarrino's flute works appears a daunting undertaking to flutists because of their notation and the almost complete absence of any traditional flute sonorities. I provide a guide to learning the techniques of his works and turning those physical techniques into musical gestures while suggesting possible interpretations through my experience of learning the pieces.

  • Twelve-Tone Cartography: Space, Chains, and Intimations of "Tonal" Form in Anton Webern's Twelve-Tone Music

    Author:
    Brian Moseley
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Joseph Straus
    Abstract:

    This dissertation proposes a theory and methodology for creating musical spaces, or maps, to model form in Webern's twelve-tone compositions. These spaces are intended to function as "musical grammars," in the sense proposed by Robert Morris. And therefore, significant time is spent discussing the primary syntactic component of Webern's music, the transformation chain, and its interaction with a variety of associational features, including segmental invariance and pitch(-class) symmetry. Throughout the dissertation, these spaces function as an analytical tools in an exploration of this music's deep engagement with classical formal concepts and designs. This study includes analytical discussions of the Piano Variations, Op. 27 and the String Quartet, Op. 28, and extended analytical explorations of the second movement of the Quartet, Op. 22, and two movements from the Cantata I, Op. 29.

  • HUMANITY AND MECHANICITY IN THE MUSIC OF NINE INCH NAILS

    Author:
    Patrick Muchmore
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Shaugn O'Donnell
    Abstract:

    The primary purpose of this dissertation is to provide analyses of the first four albums, spanning 1989-1999, by the American band Nine Inch Nails: pretty hate machine, broken, the downward spiral and The Fragile. In each case an album-level general analysis is followed by close readings of a few select tracks. Many analytical approaches, both traditional and new, are used, but a particular emphasis is placed on the sound of the track itself being the primary artistic object. Stereo spatialization and sonic effects are thus treated equally to melodic, formal and harmonic structures. The analyses are held together by a consistent interrogation of "humanity" and "mechanicity" in the compositional choices made and the resulting senses of agency that such choices often create. A resulting secondary purpose of the dissertation is an attempt to begin codifying the nature of human and mechanical agency, as well as to provide some exegesis on the effect of a variety of compositional choices in the recording studio. Finally, a brief effort to categorize the Nine Inch Nails discography up to 2009 reveals a larger narrative throughout the band's career.

  • AN ANALYSIS OF OLIVIER MESSIAEN'S LAST PIANO SOLO WORK: LES PETITES ESQUISSES D'OISEAUX

    Author:
    Quynh Nguyen
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Ruth DeFord
    Abstract:

    This dissertation undertakes an in-depth study of Olivier Messiaen's last piano solo composition, Les Petites Esquisses d'oiseaux. The work, dedicated to Yvonne Loriod, features the songs of birds common to France: the robin, the blackbird, the song thrush and the skylark. Chapter 1 canvasses the circumstances in which this work was composed. Chapter 2 provides an overview of the compositional techniques employed by Messiaen in this work, including modes, color-chords, neumes and Greek rhythmic meter. Chapter 3 discusses the significance of birdsong in Messiaen's composition and its use in Les Petites Esquisses d'oiseaux. Some of Messiaen's rough sketches of the robin, the blackbird, the skylark and the song thrush, contained in the 200 cahiers de notation stored at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, are examined and compared to the published work Les Petites Esquisses d'oiseaux. Chapter 4 provides an overview of the whole suite of six movements. Chapter 5 compares the three movements of "Le Rouge-gorge" [The Robin]. Chapter 6 discusses the three contrasting movements: "Le Merle noir" [The Blackbird], "La Grive musicienne" [The Song Thrush] and "L'Alouette des champs" [The Skylark]. Finally, Chapter 7 synthesizes the results of analyses and the information gleaned from lessons and conversations with Yvonne Loriod to address performance issues and offer recommendations to future performers of Les Petites Esquisses d'oiseaux.

  • AN ANALYSIS OF OLIVIER MESSIAEN'S LAST PIANO SOLO WORK: LES PETITES ESQUISSES D'OISEAUX

    Author:
    Quynh Nguyen
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Ruth DeFord
    Abstract:

    This dissertation undertakes an in-depth study of Olivier Messiaen's last piano solo composition, Les Petites Esquisses d'oiseaux. The work, dedicated to Yvonne Loriod, features the songs of birds common to France: the robin, the blackbird, the song thrush and the skylark. Chapter 1 canvasses the circumstances in which this work was composed. Chapter 2 provides an overview of the compositional techniques employed by Messiaen in this work, including modes, color-chords, neumes and Greek rhythmic meter. Chapter 3 discusses the significance of birdsong in Messiaen's composition and its use in Les Petites Esquisses d'oiseaux. Some of Messiaen's rough sketches of the robin, the blackbird, the skylark and the song thrush, contained in the 200 cahiers de notation stored at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, are examined and compared to the published work Les Petites Esquisses d'oiseaux. Chapter 4 provides an overview of the whole suite of six movements. Chapter 5 compares the three movements of "Le Rouge-gorge" [The Robin]. Chapter 6 discusses the three contrasting movements: "Le Merle noir" [The Blackbird], "La Grive musicienne" [The Song Thrush] and "L'Alouette des champs" [The Skylark]. Finally, Chapter 7 synthesizes the results of analyses and the information gleaned from lessons and conversations with Yvonne Loriod to address performance issues and offer recommendations to future performers of Les Petites Esquisses d'oiseaux.

  • A Structural Approach to the Analysis of Rock Music

    Author:
    Drew Nobile
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Mark Spicer
    Abstract:

    This dissertation situates itself in the middle of an ongoing debate about the applicability of Schenkerian analytical techniques to the analysis of pop and rock music. In particular, it investigates ways in which the standard conceptions of voice leading, harmonic function, and counterpoint may be updated to better apply to this new repertoire. A central claim is that voice-leading structure is intimately related to formal structure such that the two domains are mutually informing. Part I of the dissertation focuses on harmonic and melodic theory. Chapter 2, "Harmonic Syntax," advocates for a conception of harmonic function based on syntax and form rather than the identity of specific chords. In this conception, chords other than V, such as IV, II, flat-VII, or even some versions of I, can often be said to function syntactically as the dominant. Chapter 3, "The Melodic-Harmonic Divorce," explores contrapuntal paradigms in which the domains of melody and harmony seem to be operating independently. This chapter outlines three types of melodic-harmonic divorce: "hierarchy divorce," "rotation divorce," and "syntax divorce." Part II of the dissertation aims to devise voice-leading models for full song forms. Chapter 4 focuses on AABA form, Chapter 5 on verse-prechorus-chorus, and Chapter 6 on verse-chorus forms. These chapters demonstrate that these common forms are associated with general voice-leading structures that act in dialog with the specific voice-leading structures of songs that exhibit these forms. This part of the dissertation is largely analytical, and has the secondary goal of demonstrating a Schenkerian analytical methodology applied to rock music.

  • Music, Sin, and Redemption in Victorian Visual Culture and Literature

    Author:
    Julia O'Connell
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Barbara Hanning
    Abstract:

    "Music, Sin, and Redemption in Victorian Visual Culture" seeks to identify the ancient theological tropes of the identification of music with sin and of its abandonment with spiritual conversion, and to demonstrate the cultural persistence of these tropes into the modern era. The appearance of music symbolism in the socially-committed, quasi-religious paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites and their circle, especially in works that treat the prominent Victorian theme of the "fallen" woman, provides evidence that music's connection to both sin and redemption survived at least as late as the nineteenth century, and that, even more remarkably, it was translated fairly easily into the cultural lexicon (Protestant, materialist) of Victorian Britain. My study examines this type of music iconography in close readings of the paintings "The Awakening Conscience" (1853) by William Holman Hunt and "Take Your Son, Sir" (1851-1892, unfinished) by Ford Madox Brown. Moreover, the association of the abandonment of music with religious awakening (a process of conversion that, in Renaissance iconography, evokes the symbolism of both Saint Cecilia abandoning worldly music Mary Magdalene abandoning music altogether) found its way into the narratives of at least two Victorian novels, George Moore's Evelyn Innes and Sister Teresa, as well as giving a formal structure to the notable religious conversion of pianist and composer Hermann Cohen, who laid aside worldly music to become a Carmelite priest. Compounding the persistence of the music-sin-redemption topos in visual and literary culture, advances in audio technology in the nineteenth century elevated the sense of hearing to a new level of importance, giving the idea of religious conversion accomplished "through the ear" (as, I argue, the famous fourth-century conversion of Saint Augustine was) a place in both the Victorian imagination and in the historical narrative.

  • Music, Sin, and Redemption in Victorian Visual Culture and Literature

    Author:
    Julia O'Connell
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Barbara Hanning
    Abstract:

    "Music, Sin, and Redemption in Victorian Visual Culture" seeks to identify the ancient theological tropes of the identification of music with sin and of its abandonment with spiritual conversion, and to demonstrate the cultural persistence of these tropes into the modern era. The appearance of music symbolism in the socially-committed, quasi-religious paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites and their circle, especially in works that treat the prominent Victorian theme of the "fallen" woman, provides evidence that music's connection to both sin and redemption survived at least as late as the nineteenth century, and that, even more remarkably, it was translated fairly easily into the cultural lexicon (Protestant, materialist) of Victorian Britain. My study examines this type of music iconography in close readings of the paintings "The Awakening Conscience" (1853) by William Holman Hunt and "Take Your Son, Sir" (1851-1892, unfinished) by Ford Madox Brown. Moreover, the association of the abandonment of music with religious awakening (a process of conversion that, in Renaissance iconography, evokes the symbolism of both Saint Cecilia abandoning worldly music Mary Magdalene abandoning music altogether) found its way into the narratives of at least two Victorian novels, George Moore's Evelyn Innes and Sister Teresa, as well as giving a formal structure to the notable religious conversion of pianist and composer Hermann Cohen, who laid aside worldly music to become a Carmelite priest. Compounding the persistence of the music-sin-redemption topos in visual and literary culture, advances in audio technology in the nineteenth century elevated the sense of hearing to a new level of importance, giving the idea of religious conversion accomplished "through the ear" (as, I argue, the famous fourth-century conversion of Saint Augustine was) a place in both the Victorian imagination and in the historical narrative.

  • A History of the Performance Practice of Mozart's Fantasie and Sonata K. 475/457

    Author:
    Mikako Ogata
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Raymond Erickson
    Abstract:

    The pieces chosen for the discussion, the Fantasie and Sonata in C minor, K. 475/457, are especially well documented in terms of their sources: in addition to the composing autographs and the first edition, there is the so-called dedication copy, a manuscript written by a copyist that was given to Maria von Trattner, to whom the Sonata was dedicated. The discussion will include a close examination of these three primary sources, several editions published during the late eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries (including that edited by Johann Anton André, who owned the autographs at the time), and representative recorded performances from throughout the twentieth century. Thus, the editorial and performance history of the Fantasie and Sonata will be traced from the time of the works' creation to today, revealing interpretive changes through time and providing a solid basis for a modern interpretation of the works based on Mozart's original notation and late-eighteenth-century performance conventions.

  • TONALITY AND CHROMATICISM IN HANS WERNER HENZE'S EARLY OPERAS

    Author:
    Mustak Ozgen
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Philip Rupprecht
    Abstract:

    Abstract TONALITY AND CHROMATICISM IN HANS WERNER HENZE'S EARLY OPERAS by Mustak Zafer Özgen Adviser: Professor Philip Rupprecht Regarded as one of the most prolific twentieth-century composers, Hans Werner Henze is particularly famous for his remarkable output for the stage. Yet, current music scholarship, particularly in English speaking countries, responds to Henze's operas only sporadically. Studies in German, understandably more in quantity, approach his operas from a limited analytical perspective resulting in an incomplete understanding of dramatic issues. Devoting more attention to librettos as the primary source of dramatic content, these studies remain at the descriptive level in their consideration of the music, and neglect a thorough analysis of the musical textures in their entirety. Taking four operas composed in the ten-year period from 1955 to 1965 as its point of departure, the present study examines characteristic elements of Henze's musical language in order to clarify issues related to dramatic action. Henze recalls his growing frustration with the music aesthetic views cultivated during this period, which he considers as his break with the aesthetic aspirations of the so-called Darmstadt School. Coupled with his permanent move to Italy, the polarity he claims to have existed around mid-twentieth century marks a change in Henze's aesthetic views. The operas considered in this study reflect a rejection of the modernist concerns. But Henze does not abandon serial techniques categorically; rather he refrains from a dogmatic approach to serial techniques and combines them with other styles. My analyses concentrate specifically on strategies of creating tonal allusions, closely related to his idiosyncratic twelve-tone technique, and the typically dissonant stratified textures that recur in the operas under investigation. Particularly in Der Prinz von Homburg and The Bassarids Henze tackles the task of uniting his twelve-tone method with tonal allusions to delineate dramatic action.