Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • Anton Rubinstein's Four Piano Sonatas

    Author:
    Jin-Ok Lee
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    L. Burstein
    Abstract:

    Anton Rubinstein's piano sonatas display stylistic features that at its time were characteristic of a conservative Russian approach to composition. Unlike in the works of some of Rubinstein's Russian contemporaries, these works eschew "folkiness" and are firmly embedded in the tonal and formal tradition of Western Europe. Although Rubinstein's sonatas do play with standard tonal and formal structures of the Romantic period to a certain extent, they nevertheless seem to be firmly in dialogue with classical sonata form and traditional tonality.

  • REWRITING THE PAST, COMPOSING THE FUTURE: SCHUMANN AND THE REDISCOVERY OF BACH

    Author:
    Meebae Lee
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Richard Kramer
    Abstract:

    Robert Schumann's conspicuous penchant for contrapuntal texture and idioms, considered the composer's characteristic musical style, is generally ascribed to the German music tradition in which Johann Sebastian Bach is the most central figure; however, concrete musical extrapolation of Bach's influence on Schumann's repertoire has been confined to rather obvious examples such as his fugal compositions or arrangements of Bach's repertoire for solo string instruments. My dissertation explores how Schumann interpreted and translated J. S. Bach's musical legacy into his own musical idiom, using it as a creative force for developing his own musical style. In this study, Schumann's life will be classified into five periods in reference to his different aesthetical, artistic, and historical imperatives, each with the following narrative pattern. The first section of each chapter lays out a chronology of Schumann's activities regarding J.S. Bach and his study of fugue and counterpoint, based on sources such as diaries, letters, and other writings. The second section discusses the significance of the main sources studied or written by Schumann in each period: Friedrich W. Marpurg's Abhandlung von der Fuge; Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier; Luigi Cherubini's Cours de contrepoint et de fuge; and his own Fugengeschichte and Lehrbuch von Kontrapunkt und Fuge. The third part explores how the historical context and sources are related to particular Schumann's compositions: the Impromptus, Op. 5; Scherzo, Gigue, Romanze, and Fughette, Op. 32; his lieder and the Phantasie for piano and orchestra; Vier Fugen, Op. 72; and Symphony in D-minor, No. 4, Op. 120. The career-spanning trajectory of the changing aspects of Schumann's pursuit of Bach--from a source of creative inspiration to a medium for achieving objectivity--will be discussed with concrete music examples. Ultimately, a reappraisal of Schumann's work in the context of his study of counterpoint and Bach sheds new light on Schumann's position in the nineteenth-century Bach revival and the role of his music as both a public and personal manifestation of Bach's enduring legacy.

  • The Interaction of Korean and Western Practices in Isang Yun's Piri for oboe solo and Other works

    Author:
    Jeong Seok Lee
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Mark Anson-Cartwright
    Abstract:

    Abstract The Interaction of Korean and Western Practices in Isang Yun's Piri for Oboe solo and Other Works by Jeong Seok Lee Advisor: Professor Mark Anson-Cartwright The Korean composer Isang Yun wrote for Western instruments using Western compositional techniques. Despite his overt dependence on resources developed outside his homeland, Yun took pains to invest his music with Korean emotion and thought. This dissertation explores the interaction of Korean and Western practices in Yun's Piri for oboe solo and other works, with particular attention to Yun's adaptation of twelve-tone technique for his own stylistic purposes. The music discussed in this study is personal in expression, yet at the same time general or universal in meaning: it embodies the ancient Eastern philosophical concept of Tao, that universal principle whereby opposites (yin and yang) may coexist. Among the techniques that are specific to Yun's style, the most important is the main-tone technique, which Yun derived from sigimsae, the melodic ornamentation used in Korean traditional music. Main-tone technique governs the processes of Yun's music, even in those pieces that use serial techniques. To gain a deeper insight into Yun's fusion of main-tone and serial techniques, I examine three of his works in detail: Etude for flute solo, Königliches Thema for violin solo, and Piri for oboe solo. Of the three analyses presented here, that of Piri forms the core of this dissertation, while the other two serve to introduce issues that are relevant to Piri. Etude for flute solo uses main-tone technique but not twelve-tone technique, thus illuminating Yun's approach to main-tone technique independent of other constraints. Königliches Thema for violin solo is serial, treating the 20-note `royal theme' of Mach's Musical Offering as a row: this reveals Yun's personal modification of serial technique, through intense engagement with a pre-existing melody. In Piri for oboe solo, main-tone and twelve-tone techniques are not merely combined, but thoroughly interwoven. A major claim of the analysis presented here is that listeners and performers must attend to tonal patterns and registral connections that are projected on three levels: the phrase, the individual movement, and the four-movement cycle. To understand the structure of Piri is not simply to follow its row structure; rather, one must observe how the melodic patterns formed by main tones and their decorations may project or conceal the row structure.

  • A Hidden Theology: Pitch Association and Symbolism in Olivier Messiaen's Meditations sur le mystere de la Sainte Trinite

    Author:
    Jeff Leigh
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Philip Lambert
    Abstract:

    Messiaen's Meditations on the Mystery of the Holy Trinity (1969) was a late work written for organ solo. The compositional idea developed from Messiaen's improvisations, performed alongside Trinitarian sermon-lectures at La Trinité in Paris. The most unique aspect of this composition is the literal language (alphabet and leitmotif grammar--nouns, verbs, and cases) that Messiaen developed for the piece. Messiaen described this as his langage communicable "communicable language." Messiaen created this varied language of leitmotifs in order to convey specific theological ideas about the Trinity. Each meditation exists to communicate Christian theology from specific texts (biblical and non-biblical). As stated above, these leitmotifs appear in a variety of formats. In this study, all motives that include any written explanation will be considered equals. Through analysis, an exploration of the leitmotifs' musical relationships and theological relationships will be considered together. Because Messiaen attaches symbolic meanings to his motives, not simply his modes, a study which focuses solely on the pitch aspect is needed to compare how these motives inter-relate. The study of pitch transformation, relationships and resultant communication is a logical and needed research departure for this unique composition. Through this investigation, the understanding of motivic association will also give further insight into the depth of Messiaen's communicable language and resultant theology.

  • A SURVEY OF DAVID RAKOWSKI'S PIANO ÉTUDES

    Author:
    Florence Liu
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Jeff Nichols
    Abstract:

    ABSTRACT A SURVEY OF DAVID RAKOWSKI'S PIANO ÉTUDES By Florence Fangchu Liu Adviser: Professor Jeff Nichols This dissertation will explore the piano solo Études written by David Rakowski (b. 1958), providing historical context, description of the body of works as a whole, analysis of selected Études, and guidelines for performance. Despite the large number of Études composed after World War II, few have gained a place in the standard repertory. This study will focus on an overall comparison in the techniques, forms, and technical difficulty of Rakowski's piano Études. His composition repertoire includes a ten-book collection of piano Études, making his not only among the largest sets of études written by a post-war composer, but also among the most comprehensive surveys of every type of piano technique. From utilizing every intervallic degree in the traditional Études to using fist and string plucking seen in contemporary composition, these highly technical Études are necessary for meeting every need as a virtuoso in contemporary music. Books one through ten are published by Peters Editions. As twentieth-century composers have developed new techniques to produce different sounds in their music, I will include a brief chapter with an overview of post-World War II piano solo Études. I will categorize the Études into ten different groups according to the techniques that composers were focusing on, and discuss various extended techniques that were used in specific Études. I will analyze selected piano Études by Rakowski in accordance with each category. This study will examine Rakowki's works from a performance perspective. I will examine both performance challenges and the interpretive elements for each Étude discussed. This study aims at providing technical advice, suggestions on interpretations, and performance solutions specifically targeted at Rakowski's Études. I hope that this dissertation can bring more interest and attention to Rakowski's piano Études. I also hope that this research will serve as a link for both performers and listeners with new ways to appreciate today's contemporary music.

  • "A Kind of Construction in Light and Shade": An Analytical Dialogue with Recording Studio Aesthetics in Two Songs by Led Zeppelin

    Author:
    Aaron Liu-Rosenbaum
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Shaugn O'Donnell
    Abstract:

    “A Kind of Construction in Light and Shade”: An Analytical Dialogue with Recording Studio Aesthetics in Two Songs by Led Zeppelin by Aaron Liu-Rosenbaum This dissertation examines how the sound of a recording contributes meaning to the song, working in conjunction with the song`s lyrics, harmonic and rhythmic structures, album artwork, and within its cultural context. Two songs by the rock group Led Zeppelin, “When the Levee Breaks” and “Stairway to Heaven,” are taken as analytical examples in which special attention is paid to the acoustic properties of the recordings, that is, where the instruments are situated within the stereo sound field; how they are timbrally manipulated with effects such as reverb, echo, distortion, and chorus; their relative levels of prominence; and how these factors interact to create meaning in the song. The intent is to bring into relief the complex and myriad ways that recording studio aesthetics shape both our perception of, and appreciation for, two of the most prominent songs in this group`s rich repertoire. By considering the recorded sound among the other factors that comprise these analyses, I also seek to demonstrate the value of parameters other than pitch and rhythm in analyses of this repertoire in particular. This project requires extremely close listening to the recordings in order to discern how various studio effects are employed in the context of each song`s particular aesthetics. I take as my methodological departure point Albin Zak`s book, The Poetics of Rock, in which are found analyses of studio production techniques in various rock songs, and Susan Fast`s book, In the Houses of the Holy, in which many facets of Led Zeppelin`s music are examined, including semiotics and the relationship between timbre and text.

  • ROTATIONAL FORM AND SONATA-TYPE HYBRIDITY IN THE FIRST MOVEMENT OF SHOSTAKOVICH'S FOURTH SYMPHONY

    Author:
    Charity Lofthouse
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    L. Poundie Burstein
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines Dmitri Shostakovich's sonata-form movements--often framed as "sonata arch" or "reverse recapitulation" structures, wherein the primary- and secondary-zone themes return in reverse order after the development--through the lens of rotation. Using methodology from Hepokoski and Darcy's Elements of Sonata Theory (2006), I explore concepts of rotation in Symphony No. 4's opening movement and its interaction with a larger effect of boundary blurring and typological hybridity, manifest as a blending of double- and triple-rotational sonata-form types. This blurring effect is heightened by use of nontonal boundary sonorities at moments of expected tonal closure. I begin by outlining double- and triple-rotational sonata structures--layouts corresponding to Hepokoski and Darcy's Type-2 and Type-3 sonata forms respectively. Analyses from the initial movements of Shostakovich's First and Fifth Symphonies, as well as contemporary initial movements by Sibelius and Shebalin, illustrate Shostakovich's techniques of evoking triple-rotational elements within a double-rotational construction. By featuring both primary- and secondary-theme elements at the moment of post-development tonic return, Shostakovich simultaneously elicits expectations of both sonata types, thus creating a kind of sonata-type hybrid while underscoring ordered rotational structures. In-depth examination of Symphony No. 4's first movement explores moments of formal demarcation--including the MC, EEC, and ESC--as illustrating Shostakovich's combination of double- and triple-rotational constructions at formal boundaries, and his postponing of tonal cadential closure in favor of non-tonal boundary sonorities. These post-tonal events correspond to formal boundaries, displacing tonal closure until the movement's coda while forming transpositional and rhetorical correspondences across the movement analogous to tonal boundaries markers. This movement's relationship with Mahler's First Symphony--apparent in various thematic quotations--is broadened to include thematic, formal, and rotational elements, further highlighting Symphony No. 4's rotational patterns and structural correspondences. Sonata Theory's emphasis on thematic rotations presents a new way of understanding Shostakovich's blurring of sonata-form boundaries. In turn, Symphony No. 4 provides a fruitful landscape in which to examine the interplay between rotational, rhetorical, and tonal aspects of Sonata Theory and their application to polystylistic repertoire.

  • The Music of Charles Mingus: Compositional Approach, Style, and the Performance of Race and Politics in the "Free Land of Slavery"

    Author:
    Eduardo López-Dabdoub
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Jeffrey Taylor
    Abstract:

    As a composer, bassist, and bandleader, Charles Mingus (1922-1979) is widely regarded as one of the most influential and innovate figures in American music. Most existing scholarship on Mingus has focused on his biography and his socio-cultural milieu, yet very little offers any in-depth analysis of his music. This dissertation examines selected works by Mingus, providing detailed musical analyses and transcriptions while also considering the context in which the works were composed, with emphasis on the various cultural, political, and social issues that had strong ramifications on his compositions and performances. The project is divided into three chapters. Chapter 1 examines Mingus's complicated relationship with the jazz avant-garde and focuses on his composition "Folk Forms, No. 1" (1960), which demonstrates the various ways in which Mingus anticipated, was influenced by, and rejected prevailing avant-garde aesthetics. Chapter 2 traces the transformation of "Fables of Faubus" (1957) from its first recording in 1959 to the performances that surrounded Mingus's European tour in 1964, and examines how Mingus's significant revisions to the piece reflect the increasing tensions and discords of the Civil Rights Movement. Finally, Chapter 3 delves into the complexity of Mingus's racial identity and his performances of black masculinity, and shows how these issues unfold in four compositions: "Eclipse" (1953), "Devil Woman" (1961), "Ecclusiastics" (1961), and "Sue's Changes" (1974).

  • Beyond Modernism's Edge: Johanna Beyer's String Quartet No. 2 (1936) and Vivian Fine's The Race of Life (1937)

    Author:
    Rachel Lumsden
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Joseph Straus
    Abstract:

    Although a number of women were active as composers in New York during the Great Depression, their efforts have typically been neglected in favor of those of their male colleagues. Over the last two decades, scholars have begun to examine the small oeuvre of Ruth Crawford Seeger in greater depth, but aside from a few well-known publications much of this work has not been analytically oriented; in addition, scholarship on Crawford has tended to overshadow studies of the great variety of music by other modernist women composers. This dissertation addresses these lacunae in several different ways. First, I provide in-depth discussions of compositions by Johanna Magdalena Beyer (1888-1944) and Vivian Fine (1913-2000), whose music from this era has not previously received extensive analytic attention. These close readings are strongly informed by feminist theory, as I explore how contextual issues (such as biography, contemporaneous attitudes towards women, and the "problem" of being a woman composer in the 1930s) might enliven and enrich our understanding of these women's works. After the introduction (Chapter 1), Chapter 2 contains a biographical sketch of Johanna Beyer. Chapter 3 discusses the complicated ways that borrowing and gender intersect in Beyer's String Quartet No. 2 (1936), a work in which Beyer's dissonant setting of a Mozart aria about marriage provides an opportunity to both emulate--and subvert--"ultramodern" and common-practice stylistic principles and traditional conceptions of womanhood. Chapters 4 and 5 examine a collaborative work by Doris Humphrey and Vivian Fine, entitled The Race of Life. Loosely based on a series of drawings by James Thurber, this piece is significant not only because it was Fine's first major composition for modern dance (a genre for which she composed extensively in the late 1930s), but also because it provides a glimpse into some of the strategic ways that women used humor in the performing arts during this era, a topic that has received minimal scholarly attention. Chapter 6 offers final thoughts and outlines several different directions for future research.

  • Western Genres in Japan: The Evolution of Styles in Children's Songs, Hip-Hop, and Other Genres

    Author:
    Noriko Manabe
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Peter Manuel
    Abstract:

    This dissertation outlines the issues involved in adapting a foreign genre in Japan, with examples drawn from children's songs, rock, hip-hop, and reggae/dancehall, followed by detailed case studies of children's songs and hip-hop DJs. The popularization of genres reveals much of the Japanese self-image vis-à-vis other cultures, as many aspects of a foreign culture are absorbed in addition to music. Typically, the musical style of an imported genre evolves over time from translated songs, to songs that stick closely to the foreign style, to a more original style that may reflect traditional Japanese aesthetics, incorporate Japanese scales or instruments, or display an eclectic mix of influences. The Japanese language also presents challenges and opportunities for creativity, as its lack of stress accents, existence of pitch accents, multi-moraic vocabulary, and gender/class differentials render it distinct from some Western European languages. The evolution of children's songs (shoka and doyo) from 1877 to 1947 is discussed, showing their transformation from gagaku-based hoiku shoka, to awkward translations of Scottish folk songs, to syncretic art songs with sophisticated text-setting techniques and the incorporation of Japanese melodies within a Western form. The impact of the political atmosphere and educational policy on musical style and textual content is addressed. Treatises on songwriting by composers Yamada Kosaku, Motoori Nagayo, Komatsu Kosuke, and Kawamura Naonori, are analyzed, particularly as they relate to pitch accents, phrase structure, and harmonization. The final chapter discusses hip-hop DJs and producers, explaining their creative process, integration of traditional Japanese music and aesthetics, and experiences in the DMC World Championships, through interviews with DJs and producers Krush, Kentaro, Evis Beats, Shing02, Ono, Co-ma, and Izoh. The dissertation contributes to the discourse on Japanese popular music by providing comparisons across different genres of the process of musical globalization and the evolution of distinct styles. Most studies on Japanese popular music to date have focused on one genre. Through musical analyses, the dissertation shows the development of Japanese songwriting technique in Western idioms and its continuities with traditional text setting. Finally, it examines the musicality of Japanese DJs and their contribution to the global music scene.