Musical and Dramatic Functions of Loops and Loop Breakers in Philip Glass's Opera "The Voyage"

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Philip Glass's minimalist opera The Voyage commemorates the 500th Anniversary of Christopher Columbus's discovery of America. In the opera, Philip Glass, like other composers, expresses singers' and non-singers' words and activities by means of melodies, rhythms, chords, textures, timbres, and dynamics. In addition to these traditional musical expressions, successions of reiterating materials (RMs, two or more iterations of materials) and non reiterating materials (NRMs) become new musical expressions. However, dividing materials into theses two categories only distinguishes NRMs from RMs without exploring relations among them in successions. For instance, a listener cannot perceive the functional relations between a partial iteration ... continued below

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Wu, Chia-Ying May 2016.

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  • Wu, Chia-Ying

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Philip Glass's minimalist opera The Voyage commemorates the 500th Anniversary of Christopher Columbus's discovery of America. In the opera, Philip Glass, like other composers, expresses singers' and non-singers' words and activities by means of melodies, rhythms, chords, textures, timbres, and dynamics. In addition to these traditional musical expressions, successions of reiterating materials (RMs, two or more iterations of materials) and non reiterating materials (NRMs) become new musical expressions. However, dividing materials into theses two categories only distinguishes NRMs from RMs without exploring relations among them in successions. For instance, a listener cannot perceive the functional relations between a partial iteration of the RM and the NRM following the partial RM because both the partial RM and the NRM are NRMs. As a result, a listener hears a succession of NRM followed by another NRM. When an analyst relabels the partial RM as partial loop, and the NRM following the partial RM as loop breaker, a listener hears the NRM as a loop breaker causing a partial loop. The musical functions of loops and loop breakers concern a listener's expectations of the creation, sustaining, departure, and return to the norm in successions of loops and loop breakers. When a listener associates the satisfaction and dissatisfaction of these expectations with dramatic devices such as incidents, words in dialogues and soliloquies, and activities by singers and non-singers, loops and loop breakers in successions become dramatically functional. This dissertation explores the relations among musical and dramatic functions of loops and loop breakers in Glass's musical commemoration of Columbus.

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  • May 2016

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  • June 28, 2016, 4:28 p.m.

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  • July 25, 2016, 1:08 p.m.

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Wu, Chia-Ying. Musical and Dramatic Functions of Loops and Loop Breakers in Philip Glass's Opera "The Voyage", dissertation, May 2016; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc849734/: accessed April 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .