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Britten’s Op 47, Five Flower Songs: Breaking Trends in Analysis

Description: Benjamin Britten’s life and music have been the subject of study from early in his musical career. Current trends in psychological analysis of Britten’s music tend to focus on common themes, such as homosexuality, pacifism, the sense of the outsider, and the loss of innocence. Similarly, theoretical analyses tend either to provide general categorizations of the technical elements in Britten’s music or to apply a singular preconceived concept as a tool for understanding his compositions. These approaches have yielded significant information but leave aspects of Britten’s personality and music unilluminated. Britten’s Op. 47, Five Flower Songs, are a collection of five part songs for a cappella chorus that are often included within the canon of 20th century choral literature. This paper examines a new perspective on Britten’s music by examining the relationship between Britten’s friendships and their influence on his compositions. Through the examination of these relationships information is revealed that allows for a new method of analysis that is particularly relevant to the Five Flower Songs. The opus was dedicated to two botanists for the occasion of their 25th wedding anniversary. Contained within specific movements are extra-musical references to scientific characteristics of the flowers that are the subjects of the texts. By examining this work and important connections between other friendships and his compositional output this paper demonstrates the validity of this perspective in analyzing Britten’s life and music.
Date: August 2013
Creator: Jackson, Christopher Michael
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Effect of Head Flexion/extension on Acoustic Measures of Singing Voice Quality

Description: A study was undertaken to identify the effect of head flexion/extension on singing voice quality. The amplitude of the fundamental frequency (F0), and the singing power ratio (SPR), an indirect measure of singer’s formant activity, were measured. F0 and SPR scores at four experimental head positions were compared with the subjects’ scores at their habitual positions. Three vowels and three pitch levels were tested. F0 amplitudes and low frequency partials in general were greater with more extended head positions, while SPR increased with neck flexion. No effect of pitch or vowel was found. Gains in SPR appear to be the result of damping low frequency partials rather than amplifying those in the singer’s formant region. Raising the amplitude of F0 is an important resonance tool for female voices in the high range, and may be of benefit to other voice types in resonance, loudness, and laryngeal function.
Date: August 2013
Creator: Knight, Elizabeth Johnson
Partner: UNT Libraries

Iron Sharpens Iron: Duets for Two Women in the Teaching/instruction of Undergraduate Women

Description: Duet literature remains largely untapped as a pedagogical tool in the undergraduate voice studio. This dissertation examines the ways in which eight duets for female voices, although not written primarily for pedagogical use, may be used to teach four main areas of voice technique: intonation, vocal agility, legato singing, and dramatic skills. Duets are chosen primarily from the standard repertoire and are in English, German, French, Italian and Latin. The compositional styles range from the Baroque period through the 20th century. Genres include art song, oratorio, and opera. Each chapter focuses on one of the four vocal skills listed above, and includes examinations of two duets whose vocal writing (rhythm, tessitura, intervals, tempi, and text) make them appropriate candidates for pedagogical use in the improvement of that specific skill. Both male and female teachers of singing may utilize this project as a practical resource and model in how to use other duets, including those for other voice types, for similar purposes in their teaching studio. This project also demonstrates how the experience of singing duets helps students develop ensemble singing as they listen and respond to each other. Finally, this project offers voice teachers an additional pedagogical tool to help each student improve select skills, resulting in a more confident performer.
Date: August 2013
Creator: Backlin, Laurissa
Partner: UNT Libraries

James Macmillan’s St John Passion: the Role of Celtic Folk Idioms and the Reproaches

Description: In 1829, Passion settings entered the secular concert hall with Felix Mendelssohn’s revival of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in Berlin. The genre has fallen in and out of favor with composers because of the subject matter and Bach’s prominence in the setting. James MacMillan’s St. John Passion has established itself as one of the preeminent modern passion settings by manipulating past idioms such as chant, chorales, and other popular passion conventions in concert with his use of Celtic folk idioms. He creates a passion experience that strives for a spiritually Catholic influence. This approach has earned praise and harsh criticism. MacMillan’s unique use of keening and the drone offers a uniquely Scottish passion that allows for Jesus’ crucifixion to be more poignant to the intended initial audience. In addition to his use of Celtic folk idioms, MacMillan uses added text; most central to this paper is The Reproaches. Movement eight (The Reproaches) is the emotional and musical climax of the work. This inclusion of text has shifted the climax, namely Jesus’s death and burial, to moments before his death. In addition, the value of the work as a liturgical work is lost by the inclusion of these texts, but a religious and spiritual essence remain.
Date: May 2014
Creator: Frank, Nathan
Partner: UNT Libraries

Minimalism, Exoticism, and Alternatim in Tarik O’Regan’s Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis and The Ecstasies Above

Description: Abstract British composer Tarik Hamilton O’Regan is a significant choral composer of the early twenty-first century. O’Regan’s Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis and The Ecstasies Above exhibit two notable compositional techniques: minimalism influenced by Steve Reich and exoticism representing Balinese gamelan and Andalusian music. Additionally, Reich joins the technique of minimalism with the Renaissance practice of alternatim. The examination of these works will demonstrate the application of these two compositional techniques and how he integrates them into a textural context to evoke specific historical and cultural practices. Furthermore, this study will provide guidelines for researching and performing O’Regan’s choral works by explaining O’Regan’s stylistic characteristics.
Date: December 2011
Creator: Choi, Sangyun
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Choral Music of Ola Gjeilo: a New Vision of the Choral Instrument in the 21St Century

Description: The choral music of Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo (pronounced “yay-loh”) is gaining international acclaim and is widely performed and commissioned by prominent high school, university, and professional choirs. It represents a philosophical approach and vision of the choral instrument for which the conductor must have a clear understanding in order to prepare a meaningful performance. in particular, his music merges diverse musical influences, which results in a product of unique character among choral compositions in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Gjeilo draws inspiration from a text but then uses its sonic qualities (the sounds of vowels and consonants) to create an atmosphere of sound instead of following the traditions in choral and vocal music of using musical mechanisms (melody, rhythm, and harmony) to reinforce the text poetically. This study provides an overview of Gjeilo’s background, in Chapter 1, and discusses its influence on his compositional philosophy. Chapter 2 contains musical examples from selected works, which are used to illuminate unique attributes found in Gjeilo’s music. Chapter 3 presents important implications to consider aiding choral conductors in their preparation of future performances of Gjeilo’s music.
Date: May 2012
Creator: Schmidt, Brian A.
Partner: UNT Libraries

A Countertenor Aria Collection Continuum for Studio Training and Performance

Description: An assessment of the standard voice instructor or performer collection of printed music would likely reveal numerous operatic repertoire volumes in anthology format appropriated to the primary four voice categories. However, thorough investigation divulges little in comparable printed material accessible to the countertenor. This scarcity of systemized collections is especially evident in the territory of comprehensive countertenor operatic repertoire. This project fills that present void by creating a compilation of sixteen countertenor arias drawn from various styles and historical periods for suggested application in studio instruction and performance. Perhaps, a more meaningful project intent is the presentation of a beneficial graded literature continuum resource for the studio teacher who instructs a countertenor in various stages of vocal development. For this purpose, each of the 16 arias is categorized into four difficulty levels based on considerations of range, tessitura, coloratura demands, rhythm, sustained phrase length, tonality, melodic considerations/overall musical difficulty, accompaniment support, and ornamentation requirements. The project also addresses common issues of pedagogy and ornamentation for voice teacher consideration when instructing a developing countertenor.
Date: August 2018
Creator: Stanley, David Thomas
Partner: UNT Libraries

"A Blossoming Tree": A Study and Interpretive Guide to the Songs of Nan-Chang Chien on Selected Poems of Muren Hsi

Description: According to a recent United Nations report, China's population of 1.4 billion represents 19% of the world's entire population of 7.6 billion. As the distance between east and west contracts in business, so too do the arts. This dissertation focuses on six selected contemporary Chinese art songs composed by Nan-Chang Chien. By providing the references of musical facts, synopsis of the poems, word-for-word translation, IPA transcription, poetic translation, and interpretive and performance guides, singers and pianists will have an overall understanding and detailed directions for learning the Chinese language and Chinese art songs. This dissertation also provides the foundation and model for further exploration and research into Chinese art sing literature by scholars in the west.
Date: May 2018
Creator: Tsai, Wei-Shu
Partner: UNT Libraries

Naples and the Emergence of the Tenor as Hero in Italian Serious Opera

Description: The dwindling supply of castrati created a crisis in the opera world in the early 19th century. Castrati had dominated opera seria throughout the 18th century, but by the early 1800s their numbers were in decline. Impresarios and composers explored two voice types as substitutes for the castrato in male leading roles in serious operas: the contralto and the tenor. The study includes data from 242 serious operas that premiered in Italy between 1800 and 1840, noting the casting of the male leading role for each opera. At least 67 roles were created for contraltos as male heroes between 1800 and 1834. More roles were created for tenors in that period (at least 105), but until 1825 there is no clear preference for tenors over contraltos except in Naples. The Neapolitan preference for tenors is most likely due to the influence of Bourbon Kings who sought to bring Enlightenment values to Naples. After the last castrato retired in 1830 and the casting of contraltos as male heroic leads falls out of favor by the mid-1830s, the tenor, aided by a new chest-voice dominant style of singing, becomes the inheritor of the castrato's former role as leading man in serious Italian opera.
Date: May 2018
Creator: Ekstrum, Dave William
Partner: UNT Libraries

A Guide to Suitable Bass Solo Vocal Repertoire by J. S. Bach for Collegiate Baritone

Description: In the Baroque period, the baritone voice was not yet well-defined, but many composers wrote vocal pieces with a range appropriate for the modern baritone voice. Composers used the general categories of soprano, alto, tenor, and bass for solo voice in their compositions. Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was no different from other Baroque composers in writing solo works to be performed by one of the four main voice types. The various ranges and tessituras of J. S. Bach's vocal works for bass solo voice are not limited to being sung by low basses, but may also be sung by more medium ranged baritones. The purpose of this research is to guide collegiate voice teachers and their baritone students in selecting appropriate repertoire from the works of Bach on the basis of each students' level of development and to categorize four groups of bass solos by Bach for collegiate baritone students: beginning level for freshmen, intermediate level for sophomores, advanced level for juniors and seniors, and pre-professional level for seniors and graduate students. This research was prepared in conjunction with a DMA lecture-recital of eight bass solos for collegiate baritone voice, selected from the study; two vocal works for each proficiency level.
Date: August 2017
Creator: Chang, Chul Woong
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Shrinking Opera Diva: The Impact of Sociocultural Changes upon the Casting of Women in the 20th and 21st Centuries

Description: For most of the twentieth century, opera singers were not beholden to the ideal physical standard of women dictated by popular culture, but rather focused on serving the music and perfecting their artistry. Unprecedented sociocultural changes throughout the twentieth century exposed the shifting ideals of each generation and how they were promoted through mass media and advertising. This thesis surveys the time period of the 1890s to the present day for the purpose of analyzing cultural trends, philosophies and technologies that shaped the century. Societal pressure to make the body a project and the focus of one's own intense attention now reflects back onto the opera stage where audience members expect to see what society has dictated to be an acceptable female form. Artistic and stage directors are influenced by society's decree that only thin is beautiful, imbedding into the mindset of the art form notions that now affect how female professional opera singers are depicted and even employed.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Feldman, Lauren Nicole McNeese
Partner: UNT Libraries

Spanish Diction in Latin American Art Song: Variant Lyric Pronunciations of (s), (ll), and (y)

Description: Latin American art song is a genre primarily of the first half of the twentieth-century, when popular folklore served as the voice and inspiration of many poets and musicians. The nationalist movement served as a means of expression, each Latin American country with its own identity. There is great benefit for singers to study Spanish diction at an academic level, since it is a language already familiar to most U.S.A residents. There is a significant amount of unknown repertoire that would be very useful in the singing studio because of the language's open vowels. This repertoire can also serve as a confidence-builder to young Spanish-speaking singers at the beginning of their training. I will be focusing on the (s), (ll), and (y) sounds as pronounced in the diverse regions of Latin America; in particular, why they matter when coaching singers, and the articulators involved in each. The purpose of this study is to discuss diction differences in the repertoire, expound on its benefits for voice pedagogy, all while informing about varied options for recital programming.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Ortiz-Lafont, Camille
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Use of Classic Musical Theatre Repertoire for Training Bel Canto Techniques in the Undergraduate Baritone Voice

Description: For applied teachers of the bel canto method of singing, classical musical theatre repertoire provides an abundant resource of material for teaching the undergraduate baritone voice. Select classic musical theatre repertoire, fitting within the parameters of suitable range, tessitura, duration, and thematic material for an undergraduate baritone, will be used to demonstrate the application of bel canto techniques such as: glottal onsets, the connection between the speaking voice and singing voice, suitable vowels in building the upper range, and teaching sostenuto and legato. This dissertation serves as a guide for teaching sound vocalism through classic musical theatre repertoire.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Johnson, Brock
Partner: UNT Libraries

Musical Borrowing in the Choral Music of Andrew Rindfleisch

Description: American composer Andrew Rindfleisch (b. 1963) has contributed twenty-one pieces to the repertoire of contemporary choral literature to date. His works have been commissioned, premiered, and recorded by notable choral ensembles and performed in significant venues around the country. Influenced by his own early choral singing experience in his native Wisconsin, much of Rindfleisch’s choral music is infused with influences of the music of earlier composers and choral idioms. With these works, Rindfleisch participates in a long-standing trend in choral composition of looking to the musical past for inspiration and procedure while writing in a contemporary harmonic vocabulary, and his efforts can be evaluated through the lens of a study of musical borrowing. Through a case study of five of Rindfleisch’s choral works – “In manus tuas,” “Mille regretz,” “Psalm,” “Anthem,” and “Graue Liebesschlangen” – this document identifies common characteristics of Rindfleisch’s choral music and demonstrates his uses of musical borrowing and allusion. The influence of Renaissance polyphony, Debussy, Brahms, and German expressionism is revealed.
Date: December 2015
Creator: Glann, Kerry
Partner: UNT Libraries

A Detailed Investigation, Comparison, and Analysis of the Practice Habits of Undergraduate Vocal and Piano Performance Majors

Description: For musicians of all kinds, practice is an essential component in establishing and refining their skills. How a musician learns the art of practicing, and at what point in their musical and cognitive development can vary drastically. The purpose of this research is to understand how two groups of musicians, undergraduate vocal performance majors and undergraduate piano performance majors, developed (or consequently failed to develop) their respective knowledge pertaining to effective practice prior to entering the university setting, and how their practice habits changed (or consequently failed to change) after beginning study with a university instructor. This is accomplished by comparing the practice habits of the two groups prior to entering the university setting, and, after gaining admission into the degree program. Findings are supplemented with recent research pertaining to the study of learning and various types of practice.
Date: December 2018
Creator: Radziun, Barrett
Partner: UNT Libraries

Clinical Symptoms and Signs Related to Voice Disorders among Collegiate-Level Singers: A Retrospective Study

Description: The objectives of this research were to (1) characterize the demographics and vocal health history of collegiate-level singers, particularly those with a voice disorder and (2) describe and compare self-reported symptoms of singers across diagnostic categories of vocal fold disorders. Clinical reports of 56 collegiate-level singers (15 male and 41 female) who visited the Voice Diagnostic Clinic at the University of North Texas for voice evaluations between 2010 and 2015 were reviewed. Information was extracted from clinical records including demographic data, vocal health history, self-reported voice-related symptoms, and voice diagnosis confirmed by strobolaryngoscopic examinations and phonatory function testing. Diagnoses of voice disorders were grouped under three categories: normal (i.e., no perceptible pathology), benign lesions and irritation/inflammation. Seven singers were diagnosed as normal, 27 (51.8%) with benign lesions, and 22 (39.3%) with irritation/inflammation. All singers diagnosed as normal were females. Female singers have twice as many benign lesions as irritation/inflammation whereas males presented the opposite pattern. Nodules, polyps, cysts and irritation/inflammation were the most common voice disorders. Singers with allergies and a past history of voice problems demonstrated a higher incidence of voice disorders. The top five self-reported vocal symptoms were worse voice in the morning (50%), pain in throat (46.4%), voice worse with prolonged use (44.6%), vocal fatigue (42.9%), and breathiness (41.1%). Self-reported symptoms are not a reliable screening tool to determine presence or absence of vocal pathology. Voice teachers must be familiar with the singing and speaking voice of each student, so as to perceive early onset of vocal attrition symptoms and encourage the student in seeking medical attention.
Date: December 2016
Creator: Mohr, Caitlin
Partner: UNT Libraries