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Creating Musical Momentum: Textural and Timbral Sculpting with Intuitive Compositional Systems and Formal Design
This dissertation explores the analysis and creation of compositions from the standpoint of texture and momentum. It is comprised of four chapters. The first presents a number of concepts as tools for analysis, including textural typography and transformation, perception of time and psychological engagement of an audience, and respiration as a metaphor for musical momentum. The second and third chapters apply these tools to Gerard Grisey's "Periodes" and "Partiels," and Brian Ferneyhough's "Lemma-Icon-Epigram." The fourth explores specific methodologies used in composing my dissertation piece, "Phase," including the application of number systems ranging from formal to local levels.
Tempered Confetti: Defining Instrumental Collage Music in Tempered Confetti and Venni, Viddi, --
This thesis explores collage music's formal elements in an attempt to better understand its various themes and apply them in a workable format. I explore the work of John Zorn; how time is perceived in acoustic collage music and the concept of "super tempo"; musical quotation and appropriation in acoustic collage music; the definition of acoustic collage music in relation to other acoustic collage works; and musical montages addressing the works of Charles Ives, Lucciano Berio, George Rochberg, and DJ Orange. The last part of this paper discusses the compositional process used in the works Tempered Confetti and Venni, Viddi, – and how all issues of composing acoustic collage music are addressed therein.
Compositional approaches within new media paradigms.
"Compositional Approaches to New Media Paradigms" is the discursive accompaniment to the original composition BoMoH, (a new media chamber opera. A variety of new media concepts and practices are discussed in relation to their use as a contemporary compositional methodology for computer musicians and digital content producers. This paper aligns relevant discourse with a variety of concepts as they influence and affect the compositional process. This paper does not propose a new working method; rather it draws attention to a contemporary interdisciplinary practice that facilitates new possibilities for engagement and aesthetics in digital art/music. Finally, in demonstrating a selection of the design principals, from a variety of new media theories of interest, in compositional structure and concept, it is my hope to provide composers and computer musicians with a tested resource that will function as a helpful set of working guidelines for producing new media enabled art, sonic or otherwise.
"Deborah": The Creation of a Chamber Oratorio in One Act
In comparing oratorio traits across history, three aspects of oratorio were found to be particularly applicable to the creation of "Deborah: A Chamber Oratorio in One Act." These aspects were: the selection of topic and the creation or adaptation of text; the differences between recitative and aria, in form and function; and the level of stylistic diversity within a given work.
The Sound-Poetry of the Instability of Reality: Mimesis in Music, Literature, and Visual Art
This paper uses the concept of mimesis to clarify the debate concerning the representation of reality in music. Specifically, this study defines the audio reality effect and the three main practices of realism as a way of understanding mimetic practices in multiple artistic media, in particular regarding the multimedia works of the "Landscape series." After addressing the historical debates concerning mimesis, this study develops a framework for the understanding of mimesis in sound by addressing the writings of Weiss, Baudrillard, Barthes, Deleuze, and Prendergast and by examining mimetic practices in 19th-century European painting and multimedia performance works. The audio reality effect is proposed as a meaningful translation of Roland Barthes' literary reality effect to the sonic realm. The main trends of realist practice are applied to electroacoustic music and soundscape composition using the works and writings of Emmerson, Truax, Wishart, Risset, Riddell, Smalley, Murray Schafer, Fischman, Young, and Field. Lastly, this study mimetically analyzes "2 seconds / b minor / wave" by Michael Pisaro and Taku Sugimoto and the works of the "Landscape series" in order to demonstrate the relevance of mimesis for understanding current musical practice.
An Analysis of Du cristal…à la fumée by Kaija Saariaho and Axiom Unearthed, Original Composition
Beginning in the 1970s, and aided by the advancement and an increased prevalence of computers, spectral music emerged as an important development in twentieth century music. Spectral composers, as exemplified by Gérard Grisey and Tristan Murail, took the harmonic spectra of sounds as the fundamental materials of composition. The resulting music placed an emphasis on texture and gradually evolving forms. The generation of composers immediately following the spectralists assimilated their techniques into distinct and varying styles. Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho uses spectral techniques to create an aesthetic that generates form and progression from a sound/noise axis. In her piece Du cristal…à la fumée, a number of pendulum and half-pendulum gestures build up texture and form. The accompanying original composition Axiom Unearthed employs similar pendulum gestures and uses spectral techniques to generate melody and harmony in an aesthetic divergent from traditional spectral pieces.
The Nothingness of Presence: Sound, Ritual, and Encounter in the Music of Into Your Hands
The ritual music written for the Compline service of the Liturgy of the Hours, Into Your Hands, is analyzed using an ontological and phenomenological approach, which seeks to answer how such sound/musical phenomena wed to the specific ritual dynamics of Compline in their own right can create a potential for encounter with the Divine. The Jewish philosopher Martin Buber’s understanding of encounter is used to show that the sound/musical phenomena in itself bears similarities with the nature of the Judeo/Christian God, and such a nature is revealed to be both irreducibly non-conceptual as well as an entity that establishes the ontological actuality of one’s being. Studies in the beginnings of humanity at large as well as the beginnings of the individual fetus reveal that an integrated expression of music and ritual can be said to have formed the impetus of such ontological beginnings through encounter. Therefore, one of the first sounds heard in the womb - that of water (or amniotic fluid) - constitutes what may be an archetypal sound of encounter. The phenomenological effects of such an archetype are analyzed in the music of Into Your Hands through topics such as the loss of aural perspective, immersion, dynamic swells, cyclic harmonic progressions, and simultaneity. Works of other composers who use similar techniques are discussed.
Ta/v\am: Real-time Audio/video Scrubbing Tools for Analysis of Multimedia and G®¡nd
tA/v\Am (the Audio/Video Analysis Machine) is an interactive analysis engine optimized for audio/visual mediums, such as film, video games, and music. I designed tA/v\Am to allow users to pace the playback speed of videos containing sub-title style analytical text, without affecting the pitch content of the audio. The software affords writers the opportunity to display the relevant sensory data (i.e., analytical text and sound/visual media) more efficiently than the paper format. It also serves as a flexible medium; the writer may, for example, compress extensive text into a short amount of time, causing the reader to pause or slow down the rate of the video and thus suspending him/her in the sensorial moment which the writer describes. G®¡ND for Alto Saxophone, Percussion & Electronics is an exploration of the tipping point between signal and noise. Through tablature notation, MIR tools, granular synthesis, and the deconstruction of the saxophone, I have assembled a palette of inordinately contrasting sounds and threaded them together based on action profiles obtained by computer assisted analysis. With them, I have set varying physical conditions of friction that dictates whether the sonic energy is to become focused to one resonant point, or distributed equally/randomly throughout the spectrum as noise. In my critical essay, I use the software to analyze independent video games, showing how tA/v\Am is a highly appropriate tool for such analysis as it is an analogous medium. I then show the software's capabilities as a multimedia platform in analyzing acoustic music, as well as my own electroacoustic work, G®¡ND. In doing so, I advocate for a media-driven analyses, and maintain that one can communicate nuanced ideas using minimal verbal/textual explanation.
Violetting Through August’s End (Or the Sunset in Water, the Carillon-chime in Square): an Original Chamber Opera and a Critical Essay on the Trajectory of American Minimalist Opera
When the dust settles, John Adams’s Nixon in China and Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach may stand as the most important operas of the latter twentieth century. The critical essay portion of this thesis examines the trajectory of minimalist opera, from its beginnings with Glass’s Einstein on the Beach through the more romantic operas of John Adams, Steve Reich’s multimedia opera The Cave, David Lang’s musical-influenced The Difficulty of Crossing a Field, and finally the post-minimalist operas currently being staged by young composer Nico Muhly. It examines the differences between the more abstract trajectory established by the early Glass operas and the plot driven trajectory established by operas more commonly associated with John Adams, most significantly Nixon in China. Additionally, the aforementioned pieces are compared and contrasted with the author’s newly composed chamber opera Violetting through August’s End (or the sunset in water, the carillon-chime in square).
“Before I Die…”: Original Composition with a Critical Essay Exploring the Techniques of Six Crossover Composers
Candy Chang developed a public art installation where people are given the opportunity to write their answers to "Before I Die I want to ________." in a public space. I created one of these walls in Denton, TX and set it to music in a 12 minutes and 42 second piece titled Before I Die..., which combines elements of South Indian carnatic music, gospel, R&B, jazz fusion, and minimalism. The composition was influenced by the music of several crossover artists Becca Stevens, Michael League (Snarky Puppy), Nico Muhly, Poovalur Sriji, Tigran Hamasyan, and James Blake. Crossover music, fusion, and third-stream are all synonymous terms used to describe music where multiple genres or styles are authentically combined. The purpose of this thesis is to examine the balance of musical elements in crossover works as well as how specific works composed by the artists mentioned have influenced the creation of the Before I Die... piece.
“Sunken Monadnock”: a Composition for Flute, Clarinet, Bassoon, Violin, Violoncello, Electric Guitar, Piano, Percussion, Three Female Vocalists, and Computer
Sunken Monadnock is a scripted combination of three modular musical surfaces. The word “surface” is borrowed from Morton Feldman, who compared the aural surface of music to the canvases of the action painters of the American Abstract Expressionists, and contrasted it with the work’s subject, or organizational structure. Composers’ transition toward a focus on surface through indeterminate compositional techniques, according to Feldman, parallels the development of modernist abstract art. “Sunken Monadnock: Composing with Visual Metaphors” is a companion critical essay that takes the surface/subject metaphor as a starting point for analyzing Sunken Monadnock.Other visual metaphors that inspired Sunken Monadnock, and are discussed in the essay, include Shakir Hassan Al Said’s mystical semiotics, Jasper Johns’s crosshatch prints, and Wassily Kandinsky’s theory of abstraction. The circle and spiral, especially, play influential roles in Sunken Monadnock as reflected by musical applications of repetition, rotation, compression/rarefaction, and endlessness. The void in the circle’s center also comes into play. The nature of the work’s formal counterpoint requires an innovative approach to the score, which consists of five sections, each of which reflects a different approach to the aural surface (i.e., to the traversal of time). The two outer sections are traditionally scored, but the three sections in the middle—labeled “Surfaces” are played simultaneously by three subsets of the ensemble. The piece is approximately 22 minutes long.
Blueline Concerto: Critical Essay
The purpose of this critical essay is two-fold. First, the essay presents a detailed critical analysis of my original composition, Blueline Concerto for bass trombone and wind ensemble. Second, using Blueline Concerto, the essay presents preliminary findings of my study to develop an approach to composing that takes into account the musicians' health, specifically regarding noise induced hearing loss (NIHL). Through various hypothesized composition- and orchestral-based approaches, I test effectiveness on changes in NIHL risk while also noting that artistic merit and compositional integrity is preserved.
Brass Band History and Idiomatic Writing in Brass Music
The purpose of this research was to explore historical perspective of brass music. There is a brief history of brass bands in Britain. Furthermore, the paper examines the differences between two brass band pieces in the repertoire, A Western Fanfare by Eric Ewazen and Brass Symphony by Jan Koetsier. Both of these pieces were compared and contrasted against the author's newly composed work for brass, Two Companion Pieces for Brass Ensemble. The paper covers different techniques commonly used in brass writing and points these techniques out in all three pieces.
Some Soundwalks (Denton, Tx)
some soundwalks (Denton, TX) is an audio portrait of the Denton square - the area in downtown Denton bordered by the streets Oak, Hickory, Elm, and Locust. For three months (June - August, 2012), I went on soundwalks in this area, recording the soundscape and collecting material from each hour of the twenty-four hours of the day. The resulting work is presented as a layered montage of this gathered material that takes the listener on a twenty-four hour journey through the Denton square in about eighteen minutes. Ultimately, this sonic portrait of the Denton square is my subjective reaction to the daily soundscape of an area of Denton that embodies a strong sense of tradition combined with a newer presence of a growing population.
Transfantasies for Flauto Traverso, Computer Music, and Dance
TransFantasies is an interdisciplinary composition for Baroque flute (flauto traverso), computer music, and dance. A crucial component of the work is an interactive hardware and software environment that provides the opportunity for the players to shape aspects of the work during the performance. This essay discusses the influences that inspired the work and presents an in-depth analysis of notable elements of the composition. Primary issues include compositional models for gesture-based composition, historical performance practices, interactivity, and relationships between music and dance. The final component of the essay details the software component designed to create the composition. It also discusses music technology in current practice and its role in this particular work. At its core, TransFantasies is concerned with those moments where computer-influenced decisions and human behaviors collide.
Fidget, Sway, and Swerve: Three Works Inspired By Movement From the Intricate Maneuvers Series
Intricate Maneuvers is a series of musical works that were composed using movement as a model for compositional processes and forms. This essay presents in-depth analyses of three works from the series; Fidget, Sway: The Mildest Form of Falling, and Swerve for Chamber Ensemble. The analysis of each work highlights correlations between the musical characteristics of that work and the temporal, spatial, contextual, and psychological implications of the motion after which it was modeled. The third chapter also demonstrates the ways in which the creation of Sway was influenced by materials and processes taken from Ruth Crawford's String Quartet 1931. In order to investigate the question of how life experiences can function as models for compositional processes, the essay examines precedents for the compositional modeling of extra-musical ideas and images in the works of Bed?ich Smetana, Elliott Carter and Roger Reynolds. It also discusses approaches to modeling movement in music created for dance. Throughout the Intricate Maneuvers series, movement is modeled not merely to create an association between a musical work and a particular movement pattern, but rather to infuse the compositions with the dynamism that defines a particular kinetic experience.
Never Odd Or Even: Using Temporal Structures In Composing Music For Dance
This study engages the collaboration of dance and music, focusing primarily on experiences in the production of a large scale collaborative concert entitled Never Odd or Even. Famous historical collaborations offer archetypal collaborative models, the more unconventional of which are applied to the pieces of the concert. Issues and observations regarding cross-influence, project evolution, and application of the collaborative models are engaged to determine effective means of collaboration given different circumstances. The key focus of the study, the temporal relationship between music and dance, is explored in great detail to determine three models for relating time between music and dance. These temporal relationship models are applied to the pieces and evaluated on effectiveness and potential strengths when applied to dance.
Ocean of Forms: for Soprano and Computer
Ocean of Forms is a cycle of five songs for solo soprano voice and electronic/computer music accompaniment on poems by noted Bengali poet, musician, philosopher, and author Rabindranath Tagore. This work approaches the song cycle as a vehicle for expressing and highlighting the poet's words. Word and syllabic stress, text painting, melodic development, and formal structure all function in relation to the text and its meaning. the replacement of the traditional piano accompaniment with electronic accompaniment provides further possibilities for new timbral structures and transformations, expressive microtonal intonation, algorithmic and aleatoric formal structures, acousmatic and spatialized sound, and a broad sonic palette. This work strives to provide a more fully developed expression of the text as afforded by these expanded musical means. the critical essay primarily explores the interaction between text and music in the work. the first chapter explores the historical precedents for the genre of the song cycle and other texted music as well as specific influences on the work. the following chapters explore the connections between the text and the vocal line and electronic/computer music, respectively. the final chapter deals with the formal structure of the work, especially the justly-tuned harmonic scheme and its relation to the text.
Relent: a Composition for Alto Saxophone, Double Bass, Two Percussion, and Interactive Electronics
relent is a sacred work within the genre of interactive electronic music. the 20-minute composition is a multi-movement piece for four instrumentalists (saxophone, double bass, and two percussion) and computer that is inspired by the gospel message. relent is specifically about the gospel message that Christ died for man’s sins, rose from the dead, and through faith in him man can be reconciled to God. This project was an experiment in creating a work with a programmatic extramusical structure. in preparation for writing a piece based on Christian programmatic content, this paper presents an overview of research conducted on the intersection between art and Christianity referencing authors such as Harold Best, Nikolai Berdyaev, Hans Rookmaaker, Calvin Seerveld, Daniel Seidell, A. W. Tozer, Steve Turner, and Cornelius Van Til. This work was an experiment in trying to make very direct and specific musical ties to the narrative of the Gospel. Another highly experimental aspect of relent was in the way interactive electronics were used. Each acoustic instrument in the work has its own input and module within the Max patch, extending each acoustic instrument rather than adding an electronic accompaniment component. Additionally, non-traditional notation, both codified and real-time computer generated, improvisation, theatrical instructions, and a completely computer generated movement makes relent a piece that challenges and pushes the boundaries of current interactive electronic music.
Galileo's Eyeglass: An Orchestral Work Celebrating the Discovery of the Moons of Jupiter and the Rings of Saturn
Galileo's Eyeglass is a celebratory work for full orchestra with standard instrumentation commemorating Galileo Galilei's discoveries of the four largest moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn in 1610. The composition is approximately 14 minutes in duration, and although divided thematically into four parts, the music is continuous. The work exhibits primarily a blend of contemporary styles and compositional elements, yet it is rooted in traditional tonality; furthermore, the piece is interspersed with references to Galileo's life and times, including quotations of a toccata composed by the scientist's brother, Michelangelo Galilei, transcribed from lute tablature. Chapter 1 of Part 1 investigates relevant historical threads extracted from the backdrop of Galileo's life, from reflections on the events that shape the musical program, to the selection and preparation of the period music composed by Galileo's brother. Chapter 2 discusses specific musical components of Galileo's Eyeglass, including form, musical quotations, motivic and thematic material, harmonic language, orchestration, and notation. Chapter 3 examines the principal philosophical themes behind the composition, including expressions of victory of a life well lived in spite of many obstacles. Part 2 contains the orchestral score.
Dream of a Thousand Keys: A Concerto for Piano and Orchestra
Dream of a Thousand Keys is a concerto for piano and orchestra, which consists of four movements presenting multiple dimensional meanings as suggested by the word "key." I trace the derivation of Korean traditional rhythmic cycles and numerical sequences, such as the Fibonacci series, that are used throughout the work, and explore the significant role of space between the soloist and piano that are emphasized in a theatrical aspect of the composition. The essay addresses the question of musical contrasts, similarities, and metamorphosis. Lastly, I cover terms and concepts of significant 21st-century compositional techniques that come into play in the analysis of this work.
Critical Discussion of Pleroma: A Digital Drama and Its Relevance to Tragic Form in Music
Pleroma is a digital drama: a work composed of digital animation combined with electroacoustic music, presenting an original dramatic narrative. Pleroma's dramatic elements evoke both the classical form of tragedy and the concept of perceptual paradox. A structural overview of the drama and its characters and a plot synopsis are given to provide context for the critical discussion. Analytical descriptions of Beethoven's Coriolan Overture Op.62 and Mahler's Symphony No. 9 are provided to give background on tragic form and Platonic allegory in music. An investigation into the elements discussed in the analysis of the instrumental works reveals several layers of possible interpretation in Pleroma. Dramatic elements allow for tragic narratives to be constructed, but they are complemented by character associations formed by pitch relationships, stylistic juxtapositions, and instrumentation. A copy of the dramatic text is included to supplement the multimedia production.
Critical Discussion of Pleroma: A Digital Drama and Its Relevance to Tragic Form in Music
Pleroma is a digital drama: a work composed of digital animation combined with electroacoustic music, presenting an original dramatic narrative. Pleroma's dramatic elements evoke both the classical form of tragedy and the concept of perceptual paradox. A structural overview of the drama and its characters and a plot synopsis are given to provide context for the critical discussion. Analytical descriptions of Beethoven's Coriolan Overture Op.62 and Mahler's Symphony No. 9 are provided to give background on tragic form and Platonic allegory in music. An investigation into the elements discussed in the analysis of the instrumental works reveals several layers of possible interpretation in Pleroma. Dramatic elements allow for tragic narratives to be constructed, but they are complemented by character associations formed by pitch relationships, stylistic juxtapositions, and instrumentation. A copy of the dramatic text is included to supplement the multimedia production: http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc33228/
Source-bonding as a Variable in Electroacoustic Composition: Faktura and Acoustics in Understatements
Understatements for two-channel fixed media is a four-movement study of the sonic potential of acoustic instruments within the practice of electroacoustic studio composition. The musical identity of the entire composition is achieved through consistent approaches to disparate instrumental materials and a focused investigation of the relationships between the various acoustic timbres and their electroacoustic treatments. The analytical section of this paper builds on contemporary research in electroacoustic arts. The analysis of the work is preceded by a summary of theoretical and aesthetic approaches within electroacoustic composition and the introduction of primary criteria of sonic faktura (material essence) used in the compositional process. The analyses address the idiosyncratic use of the concept of faktura to contextualize and guide the unfolding of the work. The reconciliation of the illusory electronic textures and the acoustic sources that parented them may be considered the ultimate goal of Understatements.
Aesthetic and Technical Analysis on Soar!
Soar! is a musical composition written for wind ensemble and computer music. The total duration of the work is approximately 10 minutes. Flocking behavior of migratory birds serves as the most prominent influence on the imagery and local structure of the composition. The cyclical nature of the birds' journey inspires palindromic designs in the temporal domain. Aesthetically, Soar! portrays the fluid shapes of the flocks with numerous grains in the sounds. This effect is achieved by giving individual parts high degree of independence, especially in regards to rhythm. Technically, Soar! explores various interactions among instrumental lines in a wind ensemble, constructs overarching symmetrical structures, and integrates a large ensemble with computer music. The conductor acts as the leader at several improvisational moments in Soar! The use of conductor-initiated musical events in the piece can be traced back through the historic lineage of aleatoric compositions since the middle of the twentieth century. [Score is on p. 54-92.]
Characterizing Noise and Harmonicity: The Structural Function of Contrasting Sonic Components in Electronic Composition
This dissertation examines the role of noise in shaping the form of several recent musical compositions. This study demonstrates how the contrast of noisy sounds and harmonic sounds can impact the structure of compositions. Depending on context, however, the specific use and function of noise can vary substantially from one work to the next. The first portion of this paper describes methods for quantifying noise content using FFT analysis procedures. A number of tests on instrumental and synthetic sound sources are described in order to demonstrate how the analysis system may react to certain sounds. The second part of this document consists of several analyses of whole musical works. Works for acoustic instruments are examined first, followed by works for electronic media. During these analyses, it becomes clear that while the use of noise in each work is based largely upon context, some common patterns do exist across different works. The final portion of the paper examines an original work which was written with the function of noise specifically in mind. The original work is put through the same analysis procedures as works seen earlier in the paper, and some conclusions are drawn regarding both the possibilities and limitations of noise analysis as a compositional tool.
The Creative Process in Cross-Influential Composition
This dissertation describes a compositional model rooted in cross-influential methodology between complementary musical compositions that share generative source material. In their simultaneous construction, two composition pairs presented challenges that influenced and mediated the other's development with respect to timbre, transposition, pitch material, effects processing, and form. A working prototype first provides a model that is later developed. The first work Thema is for piano alone, and the companion piece Am3ht is for piano and live computer processing via the graphical programming environment Max/MSP. Compositional processes used in the prototype solidify the cross-influential model, demanding flexibility and a dialectic approach. Ideas set forth in the prototype are then explored through a second pair of compositions rooted in cross-influential methodology. The first work Lusmore is scored for solo contrabass and Max/MSP. The second composition Knockgrafton is scored for string orchestra. The flexibility of the cross-influential model is revealed more fully through a discussion of each work's musical development. The utility of the cross-influential compositional model is discussed, particularly within higher academia.
Fractus I for Trumpet in C and Electronic Sound: A Critical Examination of the Compositional Process
Fractus I is a composition for trumpet in C and live electronic sound. The electronics were primarily created using SuperCollider, an environment and programming language for real time audio synthesis. This project investigates SuperCollider's pattern and task functionality as a means of supporting and enriching the compositional process. Fractus I develops several different code architectures in order to randomize as well as synchronize various musical elements. The piece exploits SuperCollider as both an audio synthesis tool and a performance conduit. Additionally, the nature of SuperCollider's patterns and tasks influences the form and content of the composition. The project underscores SuperCollider as a powerful, versatile and open-ended tool for musical composition and examines future directions and improvements.
This Creature, Bride of Christ
This Creature, Bride of Christ is a composition for soprano, alto flute, viola, marimba, and computer running custom software for live interactive performance in the Max/MSP environment. The work is a setting of excerpts from The Book of Margery Kempe, an early autobiographical manuscript depicting the life of a Christian mystic. The thesis discusses the historical, sociological, and musical context of the text and its musical setting; the use of borrowed materials from music of John Dunstable, Richard Wagner, and the tradition of change ringing; and the technologies used to realize the computer accompaniment. A score of the work is also included in the appendix.
Cultural and Technical Perspectives on Winter Landscape
Winter Landscape is an interactive composition for erhu (Chinese two-stringed fiddle), flute, piano, and Max/MSP interactive computer music system. The total duration of the piece is approximately 15 minutes. Winter Landscape serves to demonstrate one particular approach to exploring the possibilities afforded in an interactive paradigm within a cross-cultural context. The work is intended to convey my personality and identity as a contemporary Chinese composer through diverse cultural and musical influences drawn to this particular piece while creating a balance between traditional and modern sounds. The influences of Chinese philosophy (especially Chán) and the essence of Chinese traditional music play a prominent role as demonstrated in the formation of structures, expressions, and concept of Yun in the work; these influences also play a great role in determining the instrumentation and basic pitch structures of the work. However, this work is equally influenced by techniques and practices of modern Western classical music. These diverse influences hopefully have resulted in a unique work that truly does represent a cross-synthesis of these varying influences. In Winter Landscape, the interaction that takes place between the computer and the live musician is intended to reveal the responsive human/machine relationships. The computer constantly shifts its roles as a musical instrument, conductor, performer, and improviser to facilitate the sonic realization of the solemn, nebulous, and peaceful nature of Chán philosophy, thus exploring the cultural and musical potentials; meanwhile, the design of algorithmic structures simulate the modeling of human performance, enabling the computer with intellectual ability and musical expressivity as a decision-maker, resembling its counterpart-the live performer.
GranCloud: A real-time granular synthesis application and its implementation in the interactive composition Creo.
GranCloud is new application for the generation of real-time granular synthesis in the SuperCollider programming environment. Although the software was initially programmed for use in the interactive composition Creo, it was implemented as an independent program for use in any computer music project. GranCloud consists of a set of SuperCollider classes representing granular clouds and parameter objects defining control data for the synthesis. The software is very flexible, allowing users to create their own grain synthesis definitions and control parameters. Cloud objects encapsulate all of the control data and methods necessary to render virtually any type of granular synthesis. Parameter objects provide several simple methods for mapping grain parameters to complex changing data sets or to external data sources. GranCloud simplifies the complex task of generating granular synthesis, allowing composers to focus less on technological issues and more on musical considerations during the compositional process.
Rete Mirabile: An Installation
Rete Mirabile is my new installation piece combining scientific principles with live computer generated music. The title is a Latin term meaning "Wonderful Net," which I use to refer to the highly convoluted network of biological data that drives my installation. The sonification of data, computer modeling of biological processes, kinetic sculptures, and user interactivity are central parts of the installation. The paper is organized as follows: First, brief history of the forerunners that inspired my work is given. This includes a short discussion on how John Cage and David Tudor influenced current artists works, and how those works have influenced my own work. Then I review current installation works that share similarities with my own. Finally, a detailed discussion and analysis of the construction and function concludes the paper.
Augeries, for Flute, Clarinet, Percussion and Tape: Aesthetic Discussion and Theoretical Analysis
Augeries is a multi-channel electro-acoustic composition for flute, clarinet, percussion, and tape. It is intended to be diffused through an 8-channnel playback system. Inspired by the first four lines of William Blake's Augeries of Innocence, Augeries captures the qualitative aspects of Blake's poetry by presenting the listener with an equally aperspectival aesthetic experience. The small-scale structure reflected on the large-scale form - the infusion of vastness and expansiveness into the fragile and minute. Augeries incorporates techniques of expansion and contraction, metonymic relationships, dilation and infolding of time, and structured improvisation to create an experience that is designed to explore the notion of musical time, and to bring to the listener the sense of time freedom. The critical analysis suggests that the increase in the notions of musical time, the aesthetics with which they conform, and the new time forms created, encapsulate communicative significance. This significance exists within a horizon of meaning. Semiotics illuminates an understanding of the structuring techniques used to render time as an area of artistic play. Understanding the aesthetics and mechanisms through which these techniques can be used constitutes a shared horizon of meaning. The concepts of cultural phenomenologist Jean Gebser, as explicated in The Ever-Present Origin, are used to contextualize these notions, through a description of the various consciousness structures with specific attention to the space-time relationships. Of specific concern are the aperspectival manifestations in music in the twentieth century and beyond. Special emphasis is given to the area of electro-acoustic music, particularly spectral music. The theoretical analysis explores how the various techniques are used to create an aperspectival experience, and includes specific descriptions of the technique of refraction as metonymy, and pitch set analysis of the technique of expansion and contraction.
Perspectives on The Passion According to the Gospels of Matthew and John
My thesis covers the materials and methods of my composition, The Passion According to the Gospels of Matthew and John. It features an extensive analysis of Penderecki's Passio et mors Domini nostri Iesu Christi secundum Lucam. The research also covers some history of the Passion genre and its development. The second half of the paper presents a background and analysis of my work. It details many of the creative processes and methods I employed.
Clestrinye [El Carnaval del Perdón]: Traditional Rituals in Intermedia Composition.
In Part I of this thesis, I examine the use of Latin American rituals, ceremonies, and traditional folklore as conceptual and compositional material; studying and re-contextualizing concepts, cultures, and ideologies, and introducing them to foreign audiences. I explore issues such as laptop improvisation, interaction with other performance forces, and the utilization of the social elements of non-western celebrations, as explored in Clestrinye, a work for live and fixed electronics, mixed ensemble, dancers, and painters.
Just Intonation and the Revitalization of Neoclassicism: Three Works for Baroque Instruments
For a composer of today, the relationship between new music and music from many centuries past remains problematic. In order to create something new, it is necessary to go beyond previous techniques of composition in some way. At the same time, new music that has no connection with music of the past runs the risk of irrelevance. Just tuning offers one possibility for reconciling this problem. By effectively warping music of the past through the lens of altered tuning and contemporary composition techniques, music of the past may be understood in previously unknown ways. Part I, the critical essay, presents historical background and analysis of a cycle of three works in altered/just tuning. Part II presents scores of the works.
Syncretisms for wind quintet and percussion: A study in combining organizational principles from Southeast Asian music with western stylistic elements.
Syncretisms is an original composition scored for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon, and marimba (2-mallet minimum, 4 recommended) with an optional percussion part requiring glockenspiel and chimes, and has an approximate duration of 6 min. 45. sec. The composition combines modern western tuning, timbre, and harmonic language with organizational principles identified in music from Southeast Asia (including music from cultures found in Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Indonesia). The accompanying paper describes each of these organizational principles, drawing on the work of scholars who have performed fieldwork, and describes the way in which each principle was employed in Syncretisms. The conclusion speculates on a method for comparing musical organizational systems cross-culturally.
Snow Spell: An Interactive Composition for Erhu, Flute, Piano, Cello, and Max/MSP
Snow Spell is an interactive composition for erhu, flute, cello, piano, and Max/MSP interactive computer music system. This one-movement piece, Snow Spell, is intended to depict the beauty of a snow scene by presenting four different impressions of snow envisioned by the composer through music. The definition, history, and significance of interactive music are explored. Various modes of interactivity to control signal processing modules, and technical considerations for signal routing and level control in the interactive computer music system are also explored. Chinese music elements in Snow Spell including pentatonic scales, glissandi, and quotations from the Chinese folk tune River of Sorrow are investigated.
Memento mori: Concert for Violoncello and Orchestra
Death, as a subject, has been treated extensively throughout history, both in literature as well as in music. The focus of Memento mori is to portray the inevitability of death through music. The first part of the document is an essay exploring the topic of death, its inevitability, unpredictability and the fragility of life. This section also includes a number of examples of composer's whose works have influenced the composition of the piece. The title of the work is meant to reflect that death catches up with all of us and that humans no matter how invincible they feel at certain stages of life will, eventually, succumb to death. The second part of the document is the notated orchestral score. The work is for full orchestra and solo violoncello. It is in three acts that loosely resemble three stages of life; Youth followed by life in adulthood and finally death. The work is not programmatic and the piece's formal structure varies from a traditional concerto, for although comprised of three distinct acts, there are no pauses between them. The entire work is meant to be dark and morbid and the specter of death looms throughout the piece.
A Rhetorical Guide to Ebb
In the essay A Rhetorical Guide to Ebb I explore the diverse array of influences in art, and music that guided the creation of the composition Ebb, for 13 musicians and electronics. Of those influences, the boxes of the American artist Joseph Cornell played a particularly important role. Having based the conceptual framework for Ebb on ideas taken from Cornell, the essay, instead of being driven by a single thesis, involves the creation of conceptual boxes. These conceptual boxes emphasize the influence of the artist Joseph Cornell, along with the composers Iannis Xenakis and Gérard Grisey. In addition, a time line documenting the stages in Ebb's creation is included.
Aesthetic Models and Structural Features in Concerto for Solo Percussion and Concert Band
Concerto for Solo Percussion and Concert Band was commissioned by Staff Sergeant Rone Sparrow, a percussionist with the West Point Military Academy Band. Funding for the project was provided by the Barlow Foundation. The piece was premiered April 13, 2005 in the Eisenhower Hall Theater at West Point, New York. Rone Sparrow performed with the USMA band, and Colonel Thomas Rotondi Jr., Commander/Conductor, conducted the piece. The concerto consists of three movements, and each movement features a different instrument: the first features marimba, the second, vibraphone, and the third movement features the drum kit together with a rhythm section (piano, bass, and drums). In addition to the piece, the dissertation paper discusses important technical detail related to the piece, including: harmony, form, rhythm, programmatic ideas as they relate to motivic strands, and the process of generating and discarding material. The paper also focuses on a number of factors that were influential to the piece, such as postmodern philosophy.
This thesis explores the possibilities of communication in the context of a sound composition. In RevealingReveilingReveling, a series of questions concerning communication posed by John Cage, coupled with an extension of those questions posed by myself, are set to recorded sounds-in-the-world. The intention is to create a greater awareness of that which there is to listen in our world. The first part of this essay discusses influences of philosophical thought during the process of composing RevealingReveilingReveling. Two distinct twentieth-century thinkers that have impacted the creation of this piece and their areas of thought are Martin Heidegger: language and Being; and John Cage: sound, silence, and awareness. The second part of the essay is a structural analysis of the piece, discussing the recording of Cage's questions, sounds-in-the-world, sound-manipulation techniques and thought-processes, as well as periodic mention the aesthetic decisions made.
Prayers of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication: A Composition for Soprano and Chamber Ensemble
This paper examines the relationship between text and music in Prayers of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication - a four-movement composition, fourteen minutes in length, for soprano, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, violin, double bass, and percussion. The text of the composition is taken from the Psalms and The Book of Common Prayer. The names and themes of the movements follow an ancient pattern for prayer identified by the acronym, A.C.T.S. Compositional considerations are contrasted to those of Igor Stravinsky and Steve Reich, with special emphasis on the use of musical structures, motives, and text-painting to highlight the meaning of religious texts.
The Secret Art of Science: An Aural-Based Analysis of Jonty Harrison's Acousmatic Work "Pair/Impair"
This paper observes the problems that impede meaningful analysis of form and structure in modern music, specifically electronic music. The premise of this research is to present methods, tools and practice for analyzing music whose visual interpretation, if any, do not represent the aural result of the composition. The means for suggesting a method are derived from documented observations in aural psychology, as well as composers' writings about musical perception. The result is an analytic model that focuses on the aural experience rather than the composers' compositional strategies which do not always agree with the resultant composition. The results from the analysis of music by Parmegiani, Harvey, Vega and Harrison help prove the general applicability of this research.
Symphonic Fantasia Han-Kook Oui Ja-Yeon (Nature in Korea): Score and Critical Commentary
The Symphonic Fantasia Han-Kook oui Ja-Yeon (Nature in Korea ) is a single-movement orchestral piece, which is divided into 5 characteristic sections - each section has programmatic subtitles (Rocks, River, Sea, Wind, and Mountain) and its own idée fixe motive. The degree of texture (homophonic/polyphonic), dynamics (strong/weak), density (thick/thin), velocity (fast/slow), and orchestration (emphasizing various sections of the orchestra) is determined by depiction of the subtitles. The critical commentary of the Symphonic Fantasia Han-Kook oui Ja-Yeon (Nature in Korea ) includes a discussion of form, pitch content (melodic and harmonic), and texture of the piece. The commentary also includes a discussion of the use of programmatic subtitles (Rocks, River, Sea, Wind, and Mountain) and depiction of these concepts in the orchestration of the work. A comparison with other orchestral works is added for explanation and support of the composer's concept. Some of the other composers who are discussed in this paper include Richard Strauss (Alpine Symphony), Gustav Holst (The Planets), Frank Bridge (The Sea), Aaron Copland (Billy the Kid), and Joseph Klein (Pathways: Interior Shadows).
UNRAVEL: Acoustic and Electronic Resynthesis
UNRAVEL, a work for alto saxophone and interactive electronics. Examines works for saxophone and electro-acoustic music. Analyzes modes of interactivity using Robert Rowe's guidelines, with sonogram, score, and programming examples. Investigates hybrid serial-parallel signal-processing networks, and their potential for timbral transformations. Explores compositional working methods, particularly as related to electro-acoustic music.
Voci Lontani for flute, trumpet, percussion, piano, and string quartet: Critical essay and score.
This project consists of an original composition, Voci Lontani, and a critical essay about the composition. In this piece, the idea of musical simultaneity is explored. Therefore, the piece focuses on the idea of contrast: between measured rhythms and indeterminate rhythms, between tonality and atonality, and between musics in separate tempos. In order to explore the significance of musical simultaneity, four important compositional concepts-the simultaneous juxtaposition of different musics, polyrhythmic structure, controlled indeterminacy, and quotation-are discussed. Also, several examples of twentieth-century music that use these concepts are analyzed in the essay.
Clockwork Plums
Based on a story by Joshua Forehand with additional lyrics by Joshua Bradford, Clockwork Plums is an original musical work that integrates techniques and ideas from composers and different cultures. The accompanying essay about the work includes a summary of the story, "Clockwork Plums," some historical background covering 30 years of pop music, an analysis focusing on the use of African and Reichian compositional devices, and discussion about controlled improvisation and use of the voice as compositional tools. The music consists of three sections scored for 5 voices (lead male vocalist and SATB), flute (doubling tenor saxophone), Bb clarinet (doubling baritone saxophone), violin, cello, piano, electronic keyboard, electric guitar, electric bass, drum set, and percussion.
The Prayer of Daniel: for flute (with alto flute), clarinet (with bass clarinet), violin, cello, doumbek, percussion, piano, bass-baritone voice, and men's chorus
The Prayer of Daniel is a chamber piece in the style of an oratorio for vocal bass-baritone soloist, flute doubling on alto flute, B flat clarinet doubling on bass clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion on vibraphone and marimba, doumbek (a middle eastern drum), and men's chorus (TTBB). The approximate duration is thirty minutes. The text comes from the Old Testament book of Daniel, Chapter 9 verses 4 through 19. In these passages the prophet Daniel rends from his heart a prayer of repentance, mercy and forgiveness on the behalf of a fallen nation. The harmonic language of the composition combines both classical contemporary and jazz sonorities. The rhythmic language is drawn from the meter of the text, and is used to underscore the emotion of the prayer. These elements combine to form a rich music experience that conveys the penitent heart of the prophet Daniel.
Systematic Composition and Intuition in a Concerto for Organ and Orchestra
Historically, composers have used methods in addition to inspiration in writing music. Regardless of the source materials they used, composers ultimately rely on their musical sensitivity to inform the compositional decision-making. Discuses the rotational aspects of decimals that are created from certain prime-number denominators, and focuses on the prime number 17. Shows how these decimals can be transformed by converting them to different number bases. Looks at the Golden Proportion and its use in creating formal structures. Examines compositional and aesthetic issues arising from using number series to generate the pitches, rhythms, and sections in the Concerto for Organ and Orchestra. This process of composition reveals musical gestures that may not have been discovered using more intuitively based approaches to composition. Shows how musical sensitivity was necessary in shaping the numerically derived material in order to create aesthetically satisfying music.