Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Cadenzas Written for the Brahms Violin Concerto: Interpretation and Technical Commentary

    Author:
    Ming-Shi Du
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Ruth DeFord
    Abstract:

    Brahms' decision to leave the creation of the cadenza in his violin concerto to the soloist sets his work apart from most concertos of his time. Although the Joachim and Kreisler cadenzas are still the most commonly used for the Brahms concerto, a large number of cadenzas were written by virtuoso violinists and eminent musicians during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; most of these remain obscure and unexplored by performers and scholars alike. In this project, I analyze six cadenzas written by violin virtuosos and composers and examine stylistic and aesthetic features of each writer's approach. Although violinists who wrote cadenzas for the Brahms concerto were also composers to some extent, the underlying plan and characteristics, especially individual markings for bowings and fingerings, reveal fundamental differences from those created by musicians who were primarily composers. These kinds of markings are crucial to the musical interpretation and exploration of technical possibilities in executing the cadenzas, especially in making more instrumentally feasible and natural passages created by non-violinists. Each analysis contains my technical suggestions for bowings and fingerings, and commentary on important performance practice points.

  • Betsy Jolas's Musical Language

    Author:
    Desamparados Fabra Crespo
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    David Olan
    Abstract:

    American-French composer Betsy Jolas (b.1926) has been an outstanding figure in the contemporary musical scene, developing a successful career for over sixty years as a composer and pedagogue in a field traditionally reserved for men. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards by prominent institutions, especially in France and the United States, and yet her name is rarely mentioned in historical texts on French music and contemporary composers. A remarkably imaginative artist, she has offered new perspectives to traditional approaches to melody, harmony, texture and form. Jolas has also contributed significantly to the contemporary scene, particularly to the re-establishment of prominence of melody with her demonstration of the importance of pitch and pitch family over previously prominent serial techniques, which have privileged pitch class or set class. She has also recovered traditional rules for harmony and counterpoint, while reconstructing them as contemporary sonorities. Her textures reveal a great respect and admiration for the masters of the Renaissance. Jolas's methods of setting text in music link directly to those of Robert Schumann, and like him she reinterprets poetry through music. The structure of Jolas's works owes its clarity to classicism, although the layering of the sections links more directly to composers such as Alban Berg, and his idea of building several climaxes that grow in waves within a piece. Jolas also pays tribute to other contemporary composers and pieces, for instance Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire, borrowing and treating the elder composer's music in a way that shows her admiration and her explorations into new melodic and textural territory. Many of Jolas's orchestrational attributes are related to her specific propensity for exchanging the roles of instrumental and vocal parts, i.e., giving the instrument a traditionally vocal or "speaking" role, or the vocalist an instrumental flavor. She brings her own life and daily experiences of sound to her music; seemingly only those sonorities that belong to her intimate universe are present in her work. The intent of this dissertation is identifying and documenting key elements of Jolas's compositional technique based on a review of central works and interviews with the composer.

  • Aspects of Adaptation in the Egyptian Singing Film

    Author:
    Margaret Farrell
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Jane Sugarman
    Abstract:

    This dissertation explores aspects of adaptation in the Egyptian singing film in the period from 1932 to 1962. The primary types of adaptation examined are those that are evident in the stories the films told, the ways in which the songs functioned within the stories, and the music for which these films formed the setting. Research was conducted through the viewing of over sixty Egyptian films as well as time spent in Cairo to study Arabic language and music, and to collect primary sources in the form of films, press books, books, and periodicals. The goal of this study is to deepen our understanding of both the films and the music they feature as creative examples of adaptation that resulted in stories that resonated with Egyptian values and humor, and music that appealed to Egyptian taste. This examination also affords us the opportunity to consider the nature of cultural objects when they are adapted for use outside of their culture of origin. In the case of the movie musical, this study reveals that while plot structures, usually considered central to the identification of a film genre, were altered to suit local tastes and values, songs functioned within the plots in very similar ways to those featured in Hollywood musicals of the same period. This fact suggests a refinement of the definition of the movie musical in an international context that emphasizes the function of the films to present musical performance. The songs themselves exhibit hybrid tendencies that incorporate elements borrowed from Western popular and classical musical practice within compositions that adhere to Arab practice regarding intonation and overall structure. Finally, this study is intended as a case study in narrative musical film outside the Hollywood system. As such, it seeks to add to the growing literature on this topic and provide a perspective that is informed by various scholarly disciplines including film studies, anthropology, and comparative literature. Considering both film and musical genres can reveal essential characteristics of the adapted objects as well as values and tastes that are important to the culture that adapted them.

  • Old World Influence on New World Music: Candelario Huízar's Imágenes

    Author:
    Joshua Feltman
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    David Olan
    Abstract:

    Imágenes, an orchestral tone poem by Mexican composer Candelario Huízar, is an example of early twentieth-century Mexican orchestral writing (ca. 1910-1920) that sits on the cusp between the French-influenced music of the Porfiriato (ca. 1890-1910) and the folk- inflected Nationalism that followed after the 1920's. An historical, stylistic, and analytical study of the work places it in the context of other works of the period. A new annotated edition of the work is based on available resources, including historical information and manuscript sources.