Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • An Analytical Study of Bizet's Carmen: Melody, Text Setting, Harmony, and Form

    Author:
    Andrew Pau
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    William Rothstein
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines aspects of the compositional practice of Georges Bizet in his opera Carmen (1875), focusing in particular on the composer's treatment of melody, text setting, harmony, and form. The dissertation situates the music of Carmen in its historical context by examining the extent to which Bizet follows, or departs from, the diverse musical conventions of nineteenth-century French opera. My analyses draw on both historical treatises and current music-theoretical scholarship in the areas of melody, text setting, rhythm, harmony, and form. The dissertation begins with a review of the Parisian press reception of the first run of Carmen, focusing on critical discussions of Bizet's compositional practice. I then examine Bizet's melodic and text-setting practices in light of treatises by Rousseau, Scoppa, Castil-Blaze, and Benloew, and operas by Grétry, Auber, Thomas, and Gounod, among others. I argue that like those earlier French composers, Bizet used rhythm and text setting as a way to differentiate between two different kinds of operatic music: non-diegetic music (singing as speech) and diegetic music (singing as song). I examine Bizet's text-setting practices in both lyrical and diegetic numbers from Carmen and suggest that the binary distinction between these melodic styles is occasionally blurred in the opera. The other main part of the dissertation is an examination of Bizet's use of chromaticism, common-tone tonality (including chromatic third relations), and harmonic dualism in Carmen, focusing on the three duet numbers between Carmen and Don José (the Act I Séguedille and Duo, and the Act II and Act IV duets). I argue that Bizet's use of semitonal linear motion creates motivic references across numbers in Carmen. In addition, these semitonal lines are harmonized throughout the opera in ways that feature different levels of common-tone preservation. Based on my analyses, I suggest that common-tone tonality is associated in Carmen with sensuality and the character of Carmen, while abrupt harmonic changes are associated with impetuosity and, ultimately, violence in Don José. Throughout the study, I examine the ways in which Bizet used the musical codes of nineteenth-century French opera to illuminate the dramatic psychology of his principal characters.

  • The Senator National Cultural Extravaganza of Uganda: A Branded African Traditional Music Competition

    Author:
    David Pier
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Stephen Blum
    Abstract:

    The 2006 Senator National Cultural Extravaganza of Uganda was a traditional music and dance competition sponsored by East Africa Breweries Ltd. (EABL). Participants in the competition were required to praise EABL's Senator Extra Lager brand in songs and dances. Unlike other Ugandan competitions and staid nationalist celebrations of folk culture around the world, the Senator Festival consisted of raucous events designed to draw drinking crowds in rural towns and trading centers. Based on fieldwork conducted at events, rehearsals, and administrative planning sessions, this dissertation explores how rural amateur musicians, women's group leaders, judges, administrators, and beer marketers pursued artistic, educational, and commercial goals in and around the Festival. It focuses particularly on middle-brow producers of culture who tend to be overlooked because they are neither isolated bearers of authentic traditions, nor contributors to an international avant-garde. This study illuminates a large field of "traditional" culture production in a neoliberal Africa that is characterized by the expansion of capitalism to the "bottom of the pyramid," and by development discourses celebrating entrepreneurialism, democracy, women's empowerment, and cultural diversity. Also discussed are extensions and interferences of pre-colonial, colonial, and independence-era modes of spectacle and audience participation into the contemporary period. Finally, this dissertation includes information about evolving Ugandan musical styles and values.

  • Polymetric Layering and Tonal Language in the Piano Etudes of Gyorgy Ligeti

    Author:
    Barbara Podgurski
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Philip Lambert
    Abstract:

    Gyorgy Ligeti's eighteen piano etudes were composed over a period of fifteen years, yet they constitute a coherent body of music literature. In this dissertation I explore recurring compositional elements that are significant unifying factors in these works, particularly the following six properties: referential collections, pulsation patterns and rhythmic cycles (including continuum and polymetric layering), aksak rhythms, intervallic orientation, melodic structures, and canon (in the later etudes), After a brief outline of these components in the etudes as a whole, I focus in greater depth on polymetric layering and continuum in "Entrelacs," and elements of continuum, rhythmic cycles, pitch collections, and structural design in "Der Zauberlehrling." My original analytical techniques include rhythmic reductions of continuum layers, mapping of durational cycles, and pitch-range graphs.

  • Diasporic Jeliya in New York: A Study of Mande Griot Repertoire and Performance Practice

    Author:
    David Racanelli
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Peter Manuel
    Abstract:

    Beginning in the late 1980s, many hereditary professional musicians (griots) from Francophone West Africa began moving abroad, first, to France, and then to North America. In my study, I explore the ways in which Mande griots' experiences in the most recent African diaspora in New York have affected their trade, which embraces some of the most significant musical traditions in sub-Saharan Africa. I examine the degree to which their collaboration with non-griot musicians has reshaped the parameters of their repertoire and performance practice in the New York milieu and world music sphere. Although jeliya in the Mande sphere is conceived as a verbal art, it is recast as groove-based "jam music" in clubs and concert halls; even a vocalist's part is judged upon the basis of its musical merits alone, allowing jeliya to flourish as a vocal art as well. Diasporic jeliya inspires listeners in the Western milieu to respond, act, and reflect in spite of their inability to understand the words of the griot, which are lost or neglected in transit. My work entails a detailed view of their music from the vantage point of a close collaborator (as a guitarist) with extensive professional experience working with griots and their Western associates. Collaborators learn the tools of the griot trade through "intensity of contact" with griots and their music. An array of artists determines the form and content of diasporic jeliya in New York, allowing it to grow and flourish in multiple permutations as marketable entertainment.

  • CARL BERGMANN IN NEW YORK: CONDUCTING ACTIVITY 1852-1876

    Author:
    Matthew Reichert
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    John Graziano
    Abstract:

    Carl Bergmann (1821-1876), a cellist and conductor born in Ebersbach, Saxony, emigrated from Vienna to New York in November 1849, a refugee from the political turmoil of 1848. In April 1850 he joined the cello section of the Germania Orchestra, which was then based in Baltimore; in July he was elected conductor of that ensemble. After the dissolution of the Germania in 1854, Bergmann briefly served as the conductor of the Philharmonic Society of Chicago before settling in New York. There he had a profound impact on concert life, establishing himself as the pivotal figure in the integration of the symphonic and operatic works of Liszt, Wagner, Schumann, and Berlioz into the standard repertory. Bergmann's initial claim to fame as a conductor in New York was his own series of orchestral concerts which took place on Sunday evenings at the City Assembly Rooms. The programs in this series, which appealed to a mainly but not exclusively German immigrant audience, included New York premieres of the works of progressive composers of the day, and functioned as a springboard for later performances by local philharmonic societies and opera companies that served a wider public. Scholars that have studied this period have generally overlooked Bergmann's early freelance activity. This may be attributed to the fact that his Sunday concert series was almost exclusively covered by the New York German press, which (up to now) has not been carefully chronicled. In this dissertation I assess Bergmann's contributions to musical life in mid nineteenth-century New York City, his choice of repertory, which is evidence of his forward-looking artistic agenda, and its reception by the public and the New York press.

  • Pitch-Class Multisets

    Author:
    Thomas Robinson
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Joseph Straus
    Abstract:

    The pitch-class multiset (pcmset) is a collection in which pitch classes may appear as elements more than once and in which any single appearance of a pc represents one and only one instance of that pitch class. For example, pitch classes 1, 2, and 4 comprise the pcmset {1,2,4,4}; pc4 occurs twice. This represents some musical situation with two instances of pc4 and only one instance each of pcs 2 and 3. The pcmset has appeared sporadically in the theoretical literature, yet there has been no systematic examination into the ramifications of the distinction between a pitch class and the number of its representatives. This study considers existing music theory in light of pcmsets and considers their use in analysis. First, from an ontological perspective, this study carefully defines the pcmset as distinct from the pitch set and the pitch-class set. Once the relationship between the canonical set classes and multiset classes is established, what follows is an expansive, combinatorial survey of thousands of mset classes. Second, this study revisits the standard tools and concepts of pc-set theory. The interval-class vector, the Z-relation, and complementation all are modified only minimally to accommodate pcmsets and mset classes. What is more, this accommodation gives new insight into the nature of these principles. Throughout, this study uses pcmsets in music analysis by identifying parent class and pcmsets in Webern's Opus 5, by looking at their Fourier balance in a Bach chorale, and by tracking transformations of pitch-class multiplicity in the music of Arvo Pärt.

  • Rong Ngeng: The Transformation of Malayan Social Dance Music in Thailand Since the 1930s

    Author:
    Lawrence Ross
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Stephen Blum
    Abstract:

    This is a historical and musicological inquiry into how rural performers, at the confluence of two distinctly different cultural and linguistic areas, created traditional repertoires from multiple sources. It examines the migration of the well-known ronggeng social dance music of Malaya and Indonesia to southwest Thailand in the 1930s, and the distinctive song and dance genre, called rong ngeng, that subsequently developed there. Rong ngeng was sung and danced to violin and hand-drum accompaniment in public dances where male patrons paid a token fee for an approximately three-minute round with a professional female dancer. It was a popular medium for rural courtship, and performing it was a rite of passage for many young men and women. This dissertation chronicles rong ngeng history from the 1930s until the present, exploring how island communities took up the form, and propagated it throughout the lower Andaman Sea coast. During the genre's golden age of the 1940s and ‘50s, new Thai-speaking performers adopted rong ngeng and transformed its Malayan repertoire (itself a fusion of music from urban theaters, dance halls, and rural folk songs), adapting it to a local Thai poetic form, lullabies, courtship songs, and folk theater tunes. This study traces the development of rong ngeng's two distinct forms: a Malay-language, Malayan-repertoire style of the islands, and a Thai-language, hybrid, coastal mainland style that came to be known as ‘tanjoŋ song.’ Rong ngeng is a case study of a cultural form's transformations as it moves through different social, economic, and linguistic zones. It is also a window into movement and migration of individuals and communities in the twentieth century. Its history provides a local perspective of social developments in a region situated at the confluence of two modern states and the types of changes that took place as political and cultural dominance shifted from Malay to Thai.

  • Analytical Fragments Concerning György Kurtág's "...concertante..." opus 42

    Author:
    Richard Salvage
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Stephen Blum
    Abstract:

    Despite the many apparent differences between it and the majority of compositions in his oeuvre, György Kurtág's ...concertante..., op. 42, (2002-2003, rev. 2006) offers analysts a profound and welcome opportunity to explore his approach to large-scale form. While ...concertante... reflects a formal tightening relative to Kurtág's famous song cycles, its approach to form remains the same: fragments are grouped into sections which in turn comprise the entire work. The difference is that taken together the fragments in ...concertante... bear strong traces of conventional formal paradigms. Because ...concertante...'s fragmentary nature is not as apparent as other pieces, the analyses in this essay draw attention to Kurtág's many techniques of musical interruption-an idea central to the concept of fragment advanced here. Because of the difficulties inherent in the word "fragment," the analyses alternate with discussions about how the term is applied in Kurtág's music.

  • Triadic Music in Twentieth-Century Russia

    Author:
    Christopher Segall
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Joseph Straus
    Abstract:

    Twentieth-century Russian music exhibits a diversity of approaches to triadic composition. Triads appear in harmonic contexts that range from tonal to atonal, as well as in referential contexts where triadic music evokes historical styles. Theorists in Russia have approached this repertoire from perspectives that differ from those of their English-speaking counterparts, but because little Russian theory has been reliably translated into English, the work remains largely unknown. This dissertation explores three case studies dealing with the treatment of triads in contrapuntal, functionally harmonic, and atonal contexts respectively, drawing on untranslated (or in one case, poorly translated) writings from twentieth-century Russian music theory. The first study describes Sergey Taneyev's system of generalized invertible counterpoint, arguing that its algebraic approach, designed for sixteenth-century repertoire, can be extended in the analysis of tonal contrapuntal music. The second study traces the history of Russian thought on the common third relation, known in neo-Riemannian theory as SLIDE, the relation joining triads that share a chordal third, such as C major and C-sharp minor. The Russian conception of the relation, which predates the neo-Riemannian, applies not only to triadic adjacencies but also in functional harmonic substitutions, the transformation of thematic melodies, and the altered scale degrees of Prokofiev and Shostakovich. The third study examines the strings of major and minor triads that Alfred Schnittke deploys in his atonal works, arguing that Schnittke has cultivated a framework that deliberately avoids the patterns of tonal writing. This allows the triads to be understood without recourse to "polystylism," a historicizing practice under which Schnittke's triads have typically been subsumed. In general, ideas drawn from Russian-language scholarship complement existing English-language approaches by offering new insights into repertoires that have not been fully understood.

  • John Field's Piano Sonatas Op. 1, Nos. 1 - 3

    Author:
    Juyeon Seong
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Steven Graff
    Abstract:

    ABSTRACT JOHN FIELD'S PIANO SONATAS OP. 1, NOS. 1 - 3 by Juyeon Seong Advisor: Professor Raymond Erickson This dissertation deals with John Field's three piano sonatas, Op. 1; these significant compositions marked his debut as a serious composer. He was born in Dublin on July 26, 1782, and died in Moscow on January 23, 1837. Field received early training from his father and grandfather and continued with lessons from Tommaso Giordani. In 1793 Field began studying with Muzio Clementi in London. This was the beginning of a life-long relationship between the two musicians. Field's three piano sonatas, Op. 1, were published by and dedicated to Clementi in 1801; this was to remain his most substantial and ambitious publication. In 1802 Field traveled with Clementi on a tour of Europe and on to Russia. Field remained in Russia until his death. Field performed widely and was in great demand as a pianist and teacher. While in Russia, Field developed the lyric genre of piano music known as the nocturne, thus earning himself a place in the history of piano music. Field was one of the most important pianists and composers of his day. In spite of Field's contemporaneous fame, his music, except for the nocturnes, has subsequently received little attention. This study is the first to present an analysis of his piano sonatas. The main body of this dissertation consists of four chapters: "John Field's Life and Career," "Sonata Op. 1, No. 1," "Sonata Op. 1, No. 2," and "Sonata Op. 1, No. 3." These chapters are preceded by an Introduction and followed by a Conclusion and Bibliography.