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Physical Gesture, Spatialization, Form and Transformation in Watershed I/IV, for Solo Percussion and Real-time Computer Spatialization, by Roger Reynolds

Description: Watershed I/IV, for Solo Percussion and Real-time Computer Spatialization was composed in 1995 by Pulitzer prize-winning composer Roger Reynolds. This work is a 25-minute choreographed music drama for one multiple-percussionist, in which Reynolds incorporates the musical transformation of percussion instrument families, the physical gestures of the performer, and the spatialization of processed sounds around the audience. This dissertation addresses several aspects of Watershed, which include: the expressive intent and extra-musical concepts; the formal organization, and several non-musical tools that Reynolds utilized in designing the piece (e.g. logarithmically derived sequences); the primary musical motives; the instrument setup and how the resulting physical gestures contribute to the musical intent; and the real-time computer spatialization. Throughout the document, specific musical passages are demonstrated with notated musical examples and embedded video/audio clips. In addition, transcripts of my interviews with composer Roger Reynolds, percussionist Steven Schick (premiere performer of Watershed) and engineer/technician Greg Dixon (engineer for my performances of Watershed IV) are also included.
Date: December 2009
Creator: Licata, Julie M.
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Waning of Victorian Imperialism: Stylistic Dualism in Gustav Holst's One-Act Opera Sāvitri (1908-9)

Description: Gustav Holst's one-act opera Sāvitri (1908-9) represents a turning point in his compositional style, which came at a significant time in British history. Holst combines a simpler style informed by his work with English folksong with the Wagnerian style that permeated his earlier compositions. Although influenced by a British imperialist view of the world, Sāvitri renders Hindu-Indian culture in positive terms without relying on the purely exotic, offers a perspective on gender relationships that does not depend solely on convention, and presents the commoner as the British ideal rather than romanticizing the aristocracy. The result is an opera subtle in its complexity, approaching the profound themes of love, death, and spirituality with emotional restraint and self-control.
Date: May 2005
Creator: Broughton, Joseph Earl
Partner: UNT Libraries

"Being" a Stickist: A Phenomenological Consideration of "Dwelling" in a Virtual Music Scene

Description: Musical instruments are not static, unchanging objects. They are, instead, things that materially evolve in symmetry with human practices. Alterations to an instrument's design often attend to its ergonomic or expressive capacity, but sometimes an innovator causes an entirely new instrument to arise. One such instrument is the Chapman Stick. This instrument's history is closely intertwined with global currents that have evolved into virtual, online scenes. Virtuality obfuscates embodiment, but the Stick's world, like any instrument's, is optimally related in intercorporeal exchanges. Stickists circumvent real and virtual obstacles to engage the Stick world. Using an organology informed by the work of Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty, this study examines how the Chapman Stick, as a material "thing," speaks in and through a virtual, representational environment.
Date: May 2010
Creator: Hodges, Jeff
Partner: UNT Libraries

Opera at the Threshold of a Revolution: Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites (1953-1956)

Description: Francis Poulenc’s three-act opera Dialogues des Carmélites (1953-1956) depicts the struggles of the novice nun Blanche de la Force during the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution. The use of Latin liturgical music at critical points in the opera conveys the ritualistic nature of Catholic worship. The spiritual message of mystical substitution, along with the closely related notion of vicarious suffering, imbue the opera with a spirituality that offers a sharp contrast to earlier operatic settings of Catholic texts, particularly during the age of grand opera. Marian devotion also plays an important role in the opera. The final tableau of the opera stages the execution of Blanche and her sisters, complete with the sound of a guillotine, with the nuns singing the Salve Regina as they proceed to the scaffold. The multivalence of the final tableau highlights the importance of voice and its absence. While the nuns, onstage spectators, and the guillotine are audibly present in the scene, the priest participates solely through gesture. The surfacing of the Lacanian Real in the silent moment of traumatic shock that follows the guillotine’s first fall allows for intertextual references to the opera in Poulenc’s Sonate pour Flûte et Piano (1957) to function as a work of remembrance.
Date: December 2011
Creator: Beard, Cynthia C.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Caught Between Jazz and Pop: The Contested Origins, Criticism, Performance Practice, and Reception of Smooth Jazz.

Description: In Caught Between Jazz and Pop, I challenge the prevalent marginalization and malignment of smooth jazz in the standard jazz narrative. Furthermore, I question the assumption that smooth jazz is an unfortunate and unwelcomed evolutionary outcome of the jazz-fusion era. Instead, I argue that smooth jazz is a long-lived musical style that merits multi-disciplinary analyses of its origins, critical dialogues, performance practice, and reception. Chapter 1 begins with an examination of current misconceptions about the origins of smooth jazz. In many jazz histories, the origins of smooth jazz are defined as a product of the jazz-fusion era. I suggest that smooth jazz is a distinct jazz style that is not a direct outgrowth of any mainstream jazz style, but a hybrid of various popular and jazz styles. Chapters 2 through 4 contain eight case studies examining the performers of crossover jazz and smooth jazz. These performers have conceived and maintained distinct communicative connections between themselves and their audiences. In the following chapter, the unfair treatment of popular jazz styles is examined. Many early and influential jazz critics sought to elevate jazz to the status of art music by discrediting popular jazz styles. These critics used specific criteria and emphasized notions of anti-commerciality to support their theoretical positions. In Chapter 6, the studio recordings and live performances of smooth jazz are discussed. Critics frequently complain that most smooth jazz recordings feature glossy packaging and pristine studio editing, resulting in a too-perfect product. Although this aesthetic is the result of a unique series of interactions, recordings do not represent the complete musical nature of smooth jazz. Live performances contain important, but typically neglected aspects of smooth jazz. Live performances enable performers to extend solos, interact, and communicate directly to the audience. While recordings are a useful source for musical analysis, smooth jazz, ...
Date: December 2008
Creator: West, Aaron J.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Performing the “Classical”: the Gurukula System in Karnatic Music Society

Description: Recent scholarship has revealed that the representation of Karnatic music as a “classical” art form in South Indian society was a complicated process bound to the agendas of larger early twentieth-century nationalist projects in India. This thesis explores the notions of classicalness as they are enacted in Karnatic music society through the oral transmission process from guru to shishya, or disciple. Still considered one of the most important emblems of the “classical,” the gurukula (lit. “guru-family”) system has been transformed to accommodate more contemporary lifestyles and reinscribed within many other social and musical processes in South Indian classical music society. This thesis examines the everyday interactions between members of Karnatic music society, particularly the clapping of t?la during a Karnatic music concert and the musical exchanges between percussionists onstage during the tani ?vartanam (Karnatic percussion solo), as public performances reminiscent of the relationship between guru and shishya.
Date: August 2012
Creator: Harris, Myranda Leigh
Partner: UNT Libraries

It's Not Fusion: Hybridity in the Music of Vijay Iyer and Rudresh Mahanthappa

Description: This thesis concerns the performance of identity in the music of Indian American jazz musicians Rudresh Mahanthappa and Vijay Iyer. In combining the use of Indian classical music elements with jazz, Iyer and Mahanthappa create music that is inextricably tied to their multifaceted identities. Traditional musicological analysis is juxtaposed with a theoretical framework that draws on postcolonial theory and the history of Asian immigrant populations to the U.S. I chronicle the interactions between Indian and Western music and link it to larger issues of Asian American identity formation and activism through music. Through interviews and transcriptions of studio recordings, I identify specific compositional and improvisational strategies of the musicians. I emphasize the role of individual agency in the formation of second-generation identities, drawing attention to the distinct ways that Iyer and Mahanthappa approach their music. Finally, I connect this research to a larger discourse on Indian American artistic identity.
Date: December 2012
Creator: Govind, Arathi
Partner: UNT Libraries

Criticism of Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony in London and Boston, 1819-1874: A Forum for Public Discussion of Musical Topics

Description: Critics who discuss Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony often write about aspects that run counter to their conception of what a symphony should be, such as this symphony’s static nature and its programmatic elements. In nineteenth-century Boston and London, criticism of the Pastoral Symphony reflects the opinions of a wide range of listeners, as critics variably adopted the views of the intellectual elite and general audience members. As a group, these critics acted as intermediaries between various realms of opinion regarding this piece. Their writing serves as a lens through which we can observe audiences’ acceptance of ideas common in contemporaneous musical thought, including the integrity of the artwork, the glorification of genius, and ideas about meaning in music.
Date: December 2011
Creator: Cooper, Amy Nicole
Partner: UNT Libraries

“Sounds for Adventurous Listeners”: Willis Conover, the Voice of America, and the International Reception of Avant-garde Jazz in the 1960S

Description: In “Sounds for Adventurous Listeners,” I argue that Conover’s role in the dissemination of jazz through the Music USA Jazz Hour was more influential on an educational level than what literature on Conover currently provides. Chapter 2 begins with an examination of current studies regarding the role of jazz in Cold War diplomacy, the sociopolitical implications of avant-garde jazz and race, the convergence of fandom and propaganda, the promoter as facilitator of musical trends, and the influence of international radio during the Cold War. In chapter 3 I introduce the Friends of Music USA Newsletter and explain its function as a record of overseas jazz reception and a document that cohered a global network of fans. I then focus on avant-garde debates of the 1960s and discuss Conover’s role overseas and in the United States. Chapter 4 engages social purpose and jazz criticism in the 1960s. I discuss Conover’s philosophy on social responsibility, and how his contributions intersected with other relevant discourses on race on the eve of the civil rights movement. I argue that Conover embodied two personas: one as jazz critic and promoter in the United States, and the other as an international intermediary. In chapter 5 I discuss how Conover presented the avant-garde to his overseas audience. I argue that through his efforts to broadcast jazz impartially, he legitimized avant-garde and emphasized its qualities as art music. In chapter 6 I explore fandom studies as they apply to the formation of Music USA as a global fan network. I discuss the early roots of Conover’s interest in science fiction fandom as a motivation for the implementation of the Friends of Music USA (FOMUSA) groups. Chapter 7 concludes in a discussion of the deification of Conover though the medium of radio in the midst of the Cold War. ...
Date: August 2012
Creator: Breckenridge, Mark A.
Partner: UNT Libraries