Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Melodic Function and Modal Process in Gregorian Chant

    Author:
    Richard Porterfield
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    William Rothstein
    Abstract:

    This study proposes a theory and method of analysis for voice leading in the melody of Gregorian chant. It draws on historical theories and practices, particularly those of the cantus tradition which 1) pre-dates the imposition on Western ecclesiastical chant of scale theories based in the Ancient Greek science of harmonics, 2) observes and predicts actual melodic behavior, and 3) remains basic to pedagogy through the centuries. Central to cantus-tradition doctrine is the investment of melodic tones with structural functions which articulate modes as melodic archetypes; idiomelic antiphons are analyzed according to five melodic functions derived from formulaic psalmody in a framework modally conditioned by the qualitative and intervallic relationship of final and tenor. Medieval sources put forward this functional dyad as essential to modal cognition--sometimes as the basis of modal construction--through a widespread mnemonic I call the "Re-la, re-fa" Rule; these dyads are also embedded in the ninth-century Noanoeane and eleventh-century Primum quaerite melodic prototypes. Evidence gathered from sources including the Metz tonary, De octo tonis, Musica Enchiriadis, Commemoratio Brevis, and treatises of Aurelian, Hucbald, Guido, Johannes, Amerus, Petrus de Cruce, Marchetto, Coclicus, Wollick, and Ornithoparchus is examined in light of the predicables (genus, species, differentia, proprium, accidens) of Aristotelian dialectic, leading to critical re-evaluation of concepts such as repercussio. The dissertation draws upon the Schenkerian tradition, demonstrating structural levels and prolongation in dyadic contrapuntal progression. Melodic-functional analysis employs modern staff notation to trace directed motion of a structural voice of tenor function from a state of consonance to one of unity with a second structural voice of final function; hexachordal voces (ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la) identify the qualities of structural tones as well as their order in the tenor-function Urlinie which passes through modal degrees toward the final-function Urpunkt; secondary modes projected by local, in-process dyads are noted in lower-case Roman numerals i-viii. Tenor and final remain inseparate in monadic structures logically preceding the dyadic (Claire's "modes of a single element). Other key terms: concinnity, tenorization, finalization, transfer of function, occursus, Hollywood kiss.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • ANALYSIS AND PERFORMANCE SUGGESTIONS FOR WITOLD LUTOS£AWSKI'S GRAVE: METAMORPHOSES FOR CELLO AND PIANO

    Author:
    Marta Reilly
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Norman Carey
    Abstract:

    The dissertation gives an analysis and performance suggestions for Witold Lutos³awski's Grave: Metamorphoses for Cello and Piano. The analysis is grounded in set-class theory, while the performance suggestions are based on my own experience as a concert cellist. The introduction describes background, circumstances of the composition, editions, publications, performance, reception history, and summarizes other Lutos³awski compositions for cello. The analysis describes the melody, harmony, rhythm, dynamics, articulation, agogic, texture, and compositional techniques. Sketches of Grave are used for further analysis and comparison. The dissertation also explores connections with other compositions, such as Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande and Lutos³awski's Funeral Music.

  • The Mad Science of Hip-Hop: History, Technology, and Poetics of Hip-Hop's Music, 1975-1991

    Author:
    Patrick Rivers
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Peter Manuel
    Abstract:

    In 1979, the first commercial recordings of hip-hop music were released. The music's transition from the parks and clubs of the Bronx to recorded media resulted in hip-hop music being crafted and mediated in a recording studio before reaching the ears of listeners. In this dissertation I present a comprehensive investigation into the history of the instrumental component of hip-hop music heard on recordings, commonly referred to as beats. My historical narrative is formed by: the practices involved in the creation of hip-hop beats; the technologies that facilitated and defined those practices; and the debates around these two aspects that established the aesthetics of the music. The span of years covered in the dissertation are bookended by the establishment of precision breakbeat compositions on turntables in 1975 and the technological, economic, and legal developments in hip-hop music and culture that became a turning point for the practice of beat making and the sound of hip-hop music beginning in 1991. Beat makers, producers, and engineers--the recordists predominantly responsible for the sound of a hip-hop recording--are cultural producers involved in the social practice of cultural production. As such, the history in this study is informed by ethnographic research in the form of interviews and participant observation. Musical analyses are also utilized to illuminate the historical development of hip-hop music, particularly to display the ways that beat makers created their sound arrangements through the functions of certain technologies. This dissertation explores the intermingling of technology and human practice and serves as a foundation for further inquiry into the effect of technology on music making practices.

  • 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.