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The 1986 National Endowment for the Arts Commission: An Introspective Analysis of Two Marimba Works

Description: The marimba is rapidly achieving greater importance as a solo percussion instrument. Solo compositions for the marimba have been commissioned and performed only in the last sixty years. The 1986 National Endowment for the Arts Solo Marimba Commission is considered one of the most important commissioning projects in the history of marimba literature. Two compositions created through this project, Velocities by Joseph Schwantner and Reflections on the Nature of Water by Jacob Druckman have become two of the most influential works in contemporary marimba music. This thesis will focus on a historical perspective of the project, as well as theoretical aspects and performance issues related to these two compositions. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) issued a consortium commissioning grant through the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) in 1986 to three internationally renowned marimbists, William Moersch, Leigh Howard Stevens and Gordon Stout. Three Pulitzer Prize winners were brought together to compose three new works for the marimba. The resulting pieces were: Reflections on the Nature of Water by Jacob Druckman, Velocities by Joseph Schwantner, and Islands from Archipelago: Autumn Island by Roger Reynolds. A brief history of the classical concert marimba and the development of solo marimba literature is provided in the second chapter. The fourth and fifth chapters provide individual information about the pieces, including concise biographical information about the composers and an analysis of the two compositions.
Date: August 2005
Creator: Fang, I-Jen
Partner: UNT Libraries

Commissioning Music for Trombone and Percussion: A Collaboration Between Composer and Performer with an Accompanying Survey of Trombone and Percussion Repertoire

Description: The repertoire for trombone and percussion has grown in popularity since the later 1980s. There are currently more than 110 pieces written for the ensemble. This project follows the commissioning and collaboration of Dr. Blake Tyson, Professor of Percussion at the University of Central Arkansas and well known percussion composer, in the creation of a new piece for trombone and percussion. The project also created a survey of works for trombone and percussion duet that includes 32 works. The survey includes details such as specific percussion instrumentation range, tessitura, grade level, publisher, and a description of each piece.
Date: December 2016
Creator: Cook, Justin Hastings
Partner: UNT Libraries

Extended performance techniques and compositional style in the solo concert vibraphone music of Christopher Deane.

Description: Vibraphone performance continues to be an expanding field of music. Earliest accounts of the presence of the vibraphone and vibraphone players can be found in American Vaudeville from the early 1900s; then found shortly thereafter in jazz bands as early as the 1930s, and on the classical concert stage beginning in 1949. Three Pieces for Vibraphone, Opus 27, composed by James Beale in 1959, is the first solo concert piece written exclusively for the instrument. Since 1959, there have been over 690 pieces written for solo concert vibraphone, which stands as evidence of the popularity of both the instrument and the genre of solo concert literature. Christopher Deane has contributed to solo vibraphone repertoire with works that are regarded as staples in the genre. Deane's compositions for vibraphone consistently expand the technical and musical potential of the instrument. Performance of Deane's vibraphone works requires a performer to utilize grips and specific performance techniques that are departures from standard performance practices. Many of the performance techniques needed to successfully execute these pieces are not routinely found in either percussion pedagogy courses or performance ensemble situations. As a result, most percussionists are not familiar with these techniques and will require additional assistance, instruction, or demonstrations. The impetus of this document is to present explanations and solutions for performance areas that require extended performance techniques, to offer recommendations on the creation, choosing, and manipulating of special implements, and to propose varied choices related to artistic interpretation of three of Deane's vibraphone pieces: Mourning Dove Sonnet (1983), The Apocryphal Still Life (1996), and Dis Qui Etude (2004).
Date: August 2008
Creator: Smith, Joshua D.
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Snare Drum as a Solo Concert Instrument: An In-Depth Study of Works by Milton Babbitt, John Cage, Dan Senn, and Stuart Saunders Smith, Together with Three Recitals of Selected Works by Keiko Abe, Daniel Levitan, Askell Masson, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Others

Description: This dissertation discusses the potential of the snare drum as a solo concert instrument. Four pieces from a collection entitled The Noble Snare are used for demonstration ("Homily" by Milton Babbitt, "Composed Improvisation for Snare Drum" by John Cage, "Peeping Tom" by Dan Senn, and "The Noble Snare" by Stuart Saunders Smith). In the absence of many traditional musical devices (i.e. melody and harmony), alternative means of expression are used by the composer. Each piece is discussed with regard to its distinctive compositional approach and inherent performance issues. Information is also given pertaining to the background of the Noble Snare series. This includes: the inspiration for the project, editorial issues, and its influence on snare drum performance. Much of this research was completed through interviews by with author with Sylvia Smith, publisher of The Noble Snare and owner of Smith Publications.
Date: December 2004
Creator: Baker, Jason Colby
Partner: UNT Libraries

Selected works for solo frame drums by B. Michael Williams.

Description: In 1993, American percussionist and composer B. Michael Williams published Four Solos for Frame Drums. This collection is considered the first work written exclusively for solo frame drum in Western notation. Williams primarily modeled his solos around traditional rhythms and techniques from Middle Eastern musical traditions as well as Glen Velez's virtuosic style of playing frame drums. He also drew influence from the music of South India and Sub-Saharan Africa. Williams intentionally combines the aforementioned elements as a means to expose his students and audience members to the music and drumming of these regions. The purpose of this paper is to provide a detailed analysis of select compositions for solo frame drum by B. Michael Williams in order to assist future performers in making well-informed interpretive decisions. The analysis will highlight the compositional style, structural components, technical demands and important performance considerations of four pieces by Williams: Quatrinity, Etude in Arabic Rhythms, Another New Riq and Rhythmic Journey no. 1: (From Conakry to Harare).
Date: August 2009
Creator: Nicholson, Jason Eugene
Partner: UNT Libraries

A Performance Guide and Theorical Study of Keiko Abe's Marimba d'Amore and Prism Rhapsody for Marimba and Orchestra

Description: Keiko Abe's contributions to the contemporary marimba repertoire have been a milestone in the development of the marimba as a solo concert instrument. Besides the creation of a new repertoire through commissions and her own compositions, Abe's contributions to the marimba include the improvement of the sound quality of the marimba and the establishment of the five octave instrument as the standard concert marimba. During the last four decades, Abe's compositions have been performed and studied worldwide and become standard literature for the marimba. Abe has written more than sixty compositions for marimba, including concertos, duets and solo pieces. The goal of this dissertation is to provide a comprehensive method for the performance and preparation of two major Keiko Abe's compositions, Marimba d'Amore composed by Abe in 1998 and Prism Rhapsody for Marimba and Orchestra composed in 1996. This dissertation will discuss theoretical as well as performance issues related to these two compositions. Each piece is discussed with regard to its distinctive compositional approach and inherent performances issues. In order to provide the reader an explanation of the compositional procedures used by Abe, specific directions for the performance and preparation of these two works are offered.
Date: December 2008
Creator: Àlamo Santos, Juan Manuel
Partner: UNT Libraries

Primary Compositional Characteristics in the Instrumental Music of Paul Lansky as Demonstrated in Hop (1993)

Description: This dissertation provides insight into the compositional characteristics of Paul Lansky's instrumental works as demonstrated in Hop (1993). As well, this document intends to make Hop more approachable to performers through a structural, harmonic, and rhythmic analysis. This dissertation presents a brief overview of Lansky's biographical information, discusses background information about Marimolin (the ensemble that premiered the piece), and provides an analysis of Hop. Hop is analyzed with regard to form, harmony, and rhythm. The analysis was conducted through a tonal approach, and harmonies are identified with a lead sheet analysis. Personal interviews with Paul Lansky and marimbist Nancy Zeltsman provided significant insight into Lansky's influences, musical characteristics, as well as other elements pertaining to Hop.
Date: December 2010
Creator: Willie, Eric Jason
Partner: UNT Libraries

An Analysis of Joseph Schwantner's Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra

Description: This analysis of Schwantner's Concerto is focused primarily on the pitch organization within the work, using terminology and concepts borrowed from those designed by Allen Forte in The Structure of Atonal Music. Discussion of pitch sets, their use, their derivation, their intervallic content, and their evolution throughout the piece are discussed. Additional discussion regarding Schwantner's style, orchestration techniques, textural manipulation with regard to form, are also discussed. Sources consist of the orchestral score, the two - piano reduction, and the solo percussion score. This document is in six chapters. The first discusses Schwantner's life and general musical style. The second is a brief discussion of terms in the field of pitch set organization. The third, fourth, and fifth chapters discuss in detail the musical materials themselves in each respective movement. Finally, the sixth chapter is a summary of the findings from the analysis.
Date: December 2008
Creator: Hart, Shawn Michael
Partner: UNT Libraries

A Motivic Analysis and Performance Practices of "Akrodha" (1998) by Kevin Volans, including Comparative Analyses of "She Who Sleeps with a Small Blanket" (1985) and "Asanga" (1997)

Description: This dissertation presents an analysis of Akrodha (1998), a multiple percussion solo in two movements, composed by Kevin Volans. The analysis is focused on the motivic content and subsequent iterations written within the tempos that provide the structural form of the piece. The structural tempos are supported by the presence of various motifs that serve as the tempos' characteristic traits, thereby giving the tempos more tangibility. As the work develops, these motifs reappear either as note-for-note reiterations or as variations that still maintain the unique qualities of the motifs. For comparison, similar analyses of Mr. Volans' other multiple percussion solos, She Who Sleeps with a Small Blanket (1985) and Asanga (1997), are also presented to further explore Mr. Volans' use of motifs as they relate to structural tempos. In addition, a comprehensive performance practice of Akrodha is presented based on a synthesis of considerations and methods from individuals involved in the piece's development and early performances. These include Dr. Volans himself, Jonny Axelsson (for whom Akrodha was written), and Robyn Schulkowsky (for whom She Who Sleeps with a Small Blanket and Asanga were written), as well as the author's personal experiences. This dissertation provides a deeper understanding of Akrodha for the scholar and provides performance guidance for the performer to enhance the ability to replicate the musical spirit of Kevin Volans' compositional intentions.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Feerst, Timothy A.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Yoichi Hiraoka: His Artistic Life and His Influence on the Art of Xylophone Performance

Description: Yoichi Hiraoka was an amazing Japanese xylophone player who had significant influence on the development of the xylophone as a solo instrument. The purpose of this dissertation is to collect and record evidence of Mr. Hiraoka, to examine his distinguished efforts to promote the xylophone, to investigate his influences on keyboard percussion literature, and to contribute to the development of the art of keyboard percussion performance as a whole. This dissertation addresses Yoichi Hiraoka’s artistic life, his commissioned pieces, and his influence on the art of xylophone performance. Analyses of two of his most influential commissioned works, Alan Hovhaness’ Fantasy on Japanese Wood Prints and Toshiro Mayuzumi’s Concertino for Xylophone Solo and Orchestra, are also included to illustrate the art of the xylophone, and to explain why Hiraoka did not play all of his commissioned works.
Date: August 2013
Creator: Goto, Akiko
Partner: UNT Libraries

Rhythmic Consonance and Dissonance in Eckhard Kopetzki’s Works for Solo Percussion: Topf-tanz and Canned Heat

Description: This study examines the compositional devices Eckhard Kopetzki used to create consonance and dissonance throughout his two works for solo percussion, Topf-Tanz and Canned Heat. By manipulating meter, ostinato, syncopation, polyrhythm, note values and overlapping figures, Kopetzki creates high levels of musical tension and release that shape phrase structure and large-scale form. After a discussion of rhythmic consonance and dissonance, and specific rhythmic devices, both works are considered in detail, illuminating the composer’s compositional language. Topf-Tanz is an exploration of contrasting ideas: the rhythmic and the lyrical, the call and the response, the loud and the soft. It is manifested first in the opposition of antecedent and consequent phrases and second in the overlapping of contrasting metric ideas, which creates prolonged rhythmic dissonance. Canned Heat, on the other hand, is composed through a process of continuing melodic variation. Throughout the piece, melodic motives are prolonged and abridged, creating both delay and acceleration to cadential figures. In contrast to these melodic ideas, each phrase is concluded with stark and syncopated rhythmic punctuations. Topf-Tanz and Canned Heat share Kopetzki’s creation of rhythmic consonance and dissonance. Most notably is the overlapping of contrasting metric ideas between the two hands, and highlighting this contrast through the use of two contrasting instrument families; skin and metal. On the large scale, both works progress from of a place of rhythmic consonance to one of dissonance.
Date: December 2014
Creator: Hampton, Walter Ellis
Partner: UNT Libraries

"Drum Music": A Performance Guide and Discussion of John Mackey's Influential Concerto for the Modern Percussionist

Description: John Mackey is an influential and prolific composer of wind band literature. His focus on and exploration of the percussion section are defining characteristics of his compositional voice. Mackey's concerto for percussion and wind band, "Drum Music," is a perfect example of his exploitation of the myriad timbres available within the percussion family, and also serves to showcase the versatility required of a modern percussionist. This dissertation and accompanying lecture recital provide a comprehensive guide for performers of the work. Major aspects of Mackey's compositional approach are discussed with emphasis placed on his use of percussion throughout his works. Analysis and performance concerns are discussed for each of the concertos three movements, and information is provided on the reduced version of the work prepared as part of this study.
Date: August 2017
Creator: McWilliams, Christopher Wayne
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Khan Variations for Solo Marimba by Alejandro Viñao: Musical Analysis and Performance Practice

Description: The Khan Variations is the first work for solo marimba by Argentinean composer Alejandro Viñao (b.1951). Since publication in 2001, Khan Variations has been performed at many international percussion festivals and is often a repertoire choice for performers in the final round of numerous marimba competitions. This thesis and accompanying lecture recital provide a supplemental guide to Alejandro Viñao's Khan Variations, focusing on analytical and structural theory, as well as performance practice, thus filling the void of information on this piece in the percussion community. Khan Variations was jointly commissioned by twelve of the world's prominent marimba performers and educators, including: Michael Burritt, Jack Van Geem, William Moersch, Robert Van Sice, and Nancy Zeltsman. The project organizer of the Khan Variations commission was Nancy Zeltsman, Chair of the Percussion Department at the Boston Conservatory and a leader in the field of commissioning new marimba works. Utilizing William Moersch's organization New Music Marimba as the financial conduit, Zeltsman and her group issued this commission in 1999. Alejandro Viñao studied composition with the Russian composer Jacobo Ficher in Buenos Aires, and Viñao later went on to complete his doctorate in composition from City University in London. His works span the genres of opera, choir, orchestra, electroacoustic chamber music, and more than twenty film scores. Viñao's composing style is influenced by Mexican-American composer Conlon Nancarrow and Islamic religious music known as Qawwali. Alejandro Viñao's works typically contain complex rhythmic structures and use rhythm as the main element for musical form and development. The impetus for this thesis is to provide a musical analysis and performance guide for The Khan Variations by Alejandro Viñao. This thesis also illuminates the significance of the joint commission led by Nancy Zeltsman, and highlights the influences and inspirations of Alejandro Viñao as a rising composer of international renown.
Date: May 2010
Creator: Roberts, John Francis
Partner: UNT Libraries

An Analysis and Comparison of Four Rotations Pour Marimba, A Solo Marimba Suite, by Eric Sammut

Description: Four Rotations Pour Marimba (1996) by Eric Sammut has become one of the most important marimba compositions in serious concert solo marimba literature. Four Rotations Pour Marimba is a suite of four short pieces; each of them demonstrates a different musical character while incorporating similar compositional components and techniques. The goal of this thesis project is to create a stylistic analysis for providing the concert marimbist with insight into the interpretation of these four pieces and also giving composers a more in-depth understanding of Sammut's compositional method. This thesis includes a formal analysis and comparisons of compositional elements used in Four Rotations. A brief biography of Sammut and historical significance of Four Rotations Pour Marimba are also included.
Date: May 2011
Creator: Suen, Ming-Jen
Partner: UNT Libraries

Temporality and Rhythmic Structure in Thirteen Drums by Maki Ishii and Rebond a by Iannis Xenakis

Description: This dissertation will focus on the concepts of musical time of two solo multiple-percussion compositions, Thirteen Drums (1985) by Maki Ishii and Rebond A (1987-1989) by Iannis Xenakis. The aesthetic experience of musical works is tied to the perception of musical time. Performers have to understand the concepts and methods of construction of musical time in order to interpreting composer’s works. The model of cognitive process in neuroscience of music and the information processing theory from cognitive psychology is provided to explain the perception of musical time and its importance to the aesthetic experience of music. The rhythmic structure, which is essential in temporal structure to the perception of musical time, is examined in depth to show its significant influence on the aesthetic experience in both works. Rhythmic tension will also affect the aesthetic experience.
Date: August 2014
Creator: Liu, Yi-Jan
Partner: UNT Libraries

Innovations in Musical Texture and Aural Perspective: Steven Mackey's See Ya Thursday for Solo Marimba

Description: This dissertation and accompanying lecture recital explore the unique textural features in the works of Steven Mackey as exhibited in See Ya Thursday (1993).A rigorous formal, harmonic, and motivic analysis will highlight the compositional characteristics of textural structure and aural perspective that exist in the work. Illumination of these compositional elements can help to identify and minimize the technical complexities that exist within this piece for the performer. In addition, this document provides brief biographical information on Steven Mackey and his works, and on See Ya Thursday as it relates to other pieces in the advanced marimba literature. Finally, it is the aim of the author to add a resource to the relatively limited amount of research on Steven Mackey with this analysis of See Ya Thursday.
Date: August 2013
Creator: Hall, David Porter
Partner: UNT Libraries

Áskell Másson’s Solos for Snare Drum: Maximizing Musical Expression Through Varying Compositional Techniques and Experimentation in Timbre

Description: This dissertation and accompanying lecture recital explores the musical elements present in Áskell Másson’s three solos for snare drum, PRÍM (1984), KÍM (2001) and B2B: Back to Basics (2010). Two of the primary challenges for the performer when playing solo literature on a non-pitch oriented instrument are identifying thematic structures and understanding how to interpret all innovative sound production techniques employed within the music. A thematic and compositional analysis, as well as an investigation into the experimentation of timbre found in Másson’s three pieces for solo snare drum will help to clarify the musical complexities that are present throughout.
Date: December 2015
Creator: O’Neal, John Micheal
Partner: UNT Libraries