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The Fallow Ground: A Composition for Pierrot Ensemble with Percussion and Male Voice

Description: The inspiration for The Fallow Ground is the time period of the Second Great Awakening (1790-1840s) and, in particular, the life and impact of one of the period's central figures: Charles Grandison Finney. Finney was a lawyer-turned-evangelist whose preaching style led to explosive and emotional conversions and helped spread the fire of revival throughout the state of New York and eventually throughout the country. In The Fallow Ground I have taken different events from Finney's life and the revivalist culture to create musical analogs that examine and critique the events within a twenty-first century musical aesthetic. Quotation and allusion of revival period hymns play a significant part in The Fallow Ground. Inspired by the works of Ives, Crumb, Ligeti, and Schnittke, quotation is used in this piece to develop or subvert the material, thus creating different contextual meanings from familiar material. In this way, the quotation not only alludes to an idea outside of the piece, but also casts a critical view of that idea by its placement in the context of the piece. Concerning the instrumentation, The Fallow Ground is written for what is commonly called the Pierrot ensemble (flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion) with male soloist. In my piece, the soprano has been replaced by a baritone soloist. The piece, approximately thirty minutes in length, has a chiastic five-movement structure with each of the movements depicting certain events or concepts that were prevalent during the time of Charles Finney and the Second Great Awakening.
Date: May 2011
Creator: Thomas, Paul David
Partner: UNT Libraries