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Themes of Social Justice in the Choral Music of Jake Runestad

Description: With his thought-provoking and socially relevant music, American composer Jake Runestad has quickly become one of the most performed choral composers of the 21st century. Although music and social justice have been tied together for centuries, there is a new movement bringing social justice to American choral music in a noticeably increased manor, and Jake Runestad is a leading composer in this movement. In this paper, I provide a detailed analysis into the social justice themes employed by Runestad, interviews with him and several well-respected American choral directors programming and commissioning his music, as well as compositional devices employed within his compositions. The purpose of this study is to show Jake Runestad's place as an American choral composer by offering a historical overview of the social justice themes in American music and Western choral music separately. I will then narrow the scope to Jake Runestad, who since 2013 has been using his choral music to bring awareness to human inequalities within the United States today.
Date: August 2018
Creator: Hathaway, Christopher M
Partner: UNT Libraries

Visual Music: The Use of Film Composition Devices to Develop Form in the Wind Band Music of Bruce Broughton

Description: As a film composer, Bruce Broughton uses themes, motives, gestures, tropes, and other film composition devices; however, he is also able to develop them into compelling formal structures through the use of film composition techniques in his concert music. Traditional musical form is not necessarily applicable to film music. The film dictates the pacing and structure, whereas concert music allows for the creation of form and more complex musical development. Through his extensive experience composing in the film industry, Broughton instinctively uses his film composition techniques as a means to reach his audience with his concert music. He establishes a common ground through film score vernacular to draw the listener into a more sophisticated musical conversation. This is particularly evident in his extensive wind band catalogue. In this dissertation, I identify Bruce Broughton's film composition techniques and examine how he employs them to create a stand-alone form using those techniques in his wind band music. The film composition techniques that are examined include character association, character interaction, motivic snippets, programmatic associations, and musical tropes. These aspects are demonstrated as they influence form in three of his most frequently performed and highly acclaimed pieces for wind band: In the World of Spirits, Celebration, and Spacious Skies. Through the examination, Broughton's use of formal development through film composition devices is demonstrated.
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Date: August 2018
Creator: Blasko, Ben Andrew
Partner: UNT Libraries

William Byrd's Motet "Tristitia et Anxietas" Through Elizabethan Eyes: Performance Practice Based on an Examination of Sixteenth-Century Sources

Description: By considering sixteenth-century English chorister training, modern singers of Renaissance vocal music are informed of the practical and academic demands unique to Elizabethan musicians and audiences. Clauses in relevant choirmaster contracts provide an insight into pedagogical expectations of teachers and their choristers. Studies included plainchant, grammar, Latin, rhetoric, improvisation, poetry, morality, instrumental instruction on organ and viols, and composition. For those not associated with cathedrals and collegiate chapels, Thomas Morley outlined the educational sequence of his teacher's generation in his 1597 publication, "A plaine and easie introduction to practicall musicke." Morley presented education as discourse between students and teacher, and covered the fundamentals of singing, improvisation, and composition. With the digitization of and online access to Renaissance performing sources, present-day performers can readily examine the design of sixteenth-century manuscript and printed partbooks. Performance practice recommendations can be gleaned from the physical nature of the music that once equipped the Renaissance chorister with the visual means necessary for expression. Combined with principles of chorister training, this project suggests learned choices in pronunciation, tone, intonation, phrasing, pitch, text underlay, musica ficta, rhetoric, and expression for the prima pars of William Byrd's middle period motet, "Tristitia et anxietas."
Date: August 2016
Creator: Irving, John Wells
Partner: UNT Libraries

Passion Settings of the 20th- and 21st- Centuries Focusing on Craig Hella Johnson's Considering Matthew Shepard

Description: Craig Hella Johnson (b. 1963) has emerged as a leader in choral music over the last 20 years. As the conductor of the Austin, TX based chorus Conspirare Johnson implemented the European model of bringing singers together from all over the country to assemble for concerts and recordings over a short period of time. He is known for his collage programs which bring together many styles of music bound by a central theme. Through these programs he has written and arranged many pieces which are now published and being performed by choirs across the globe. Johnson's most significant work to date is a 90 minute passion oratorio which details the story of Matthew Shepard, a college student murdered in a hate crime in 1998. Considering Matthew Shepard (2016) is a wonderful example of Johnson's composition and programming style. Though not a traditional passion story, it is part of the evolution of the genre in the 20th and 21st centuries. The passion oratorio has seen a resurgence in the past 50 years and has undergone a transformation in that time. These new works pay homage to the history of the genre but have begun to stretch it in terms of form and content. This study will highlight the evolution of the passion oratorio focusing on Johnson's Considering Matthew Shepard and offer some insight into the composers style and how this work represents a modern treatment of the passion oratorio.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Ward, Robert Clark
Partner: UNT Libraries

Sven-David Sandström's Matthäuspassion: Examining J.S. Bach's Influence and Sandström's Compositional Language, Use of Symbolism, and Religious and Spiritual Motivations

Description: Beginning with his High Mass written in 1994, popular Swedish composer Sven-David Sandström modeled multiple compositions after famous canonical works using the same texts and/or instrumentation. Sandström wants to be compared tot he greatest, specifically in how a twenty-first century composer responds to a text set , in the case of J.S. Bach's , over 250 years ago. His setting of Matthäuspassion (MP), which uses the same libretto as J.S. Bach, is his most extensive non-operatic work, one he considers his most significant, and likely his last work based on a preexisting model. This study 1) examines the influence of J.S. Bach's MP on Sandström's setting in the use of characters and chorales, 2) illustrates Sandström's compositional language in MP based on recent studies on his choral music, 3) describes his use of musical symbolism, and 4) discusses his religious and spiritual motivations behind the work, as well as his preferred uses in performance.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Jilek, Dwight
Partner: UNT Libraries

A Conductor's Guide to Un-Yung La's Choral Music as Reflected in Easter Cantata

Description: Un-Yung La was one of the first Korean composers of Western style choral music who used Korean folk elements in his composers. According to Un-Yung La's musical theory, which he demonstrated in Easter Cantata. Korean-style melody and rhythm were created based on Korean traditional scales and he also used Western-style harmonization. He attempted a new Korean style of expression through Sikimsae technique in Korean traditional vocal music genres: Pansori and Sijo. The purpose of this paepr is to discuss traditional Korean performance elements related to melody, harmony, and rhythm as employed in La's Easter Cantata. The study will increase the knowledge of western conductors who wish to understand Korean folk music in preparation for performance of choral works such as La's Easter Cantata.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Ryu, Hanpill
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Re-Unification of Dr. Edwin Fissinger's Prairie Scenes: A Choral Cycle

Description: Edwin Fissinger (1920-1990) was a conductor and prolific choral composer. His compositional techniques, settings of text, jazz-influenced harmonies, and melodic propulsion fulfill an important role in each of his compositions. In the eight choral cycles he composed, Fissinger unified each cycle through thematic and textual elements. Although this resulted in a logical progression of poetry and music, Fissinger's final choral cycle, Prairie Scenes, was not published as he intended. Rather, individual selections from the cycle were published by two different publishing houses, out of sequence, and sixteen years apart. Consequently, the eight pieces are not currently performed together. Today's choral conductors, singers, and audience do not fully appreciate the value of this choral cycle and cannot understand its intended context. It is necessary to provide an in-depth investigation of the original eight-piece work Prairie Scenes: A Choral Cycle to place the appropriate organizational set together. This study illustrates the importance of the unification of Fissinger's Prairie Scenes: A Choral Cycle through a study of the poetry, the thematic material as it relates to the natural elements of the prairies, the manuscripts, and interviews with Fissinger's publishers and colleagues. An examination of Fissinger's compositional technique to convey the meaning of the text reveals a clear link between Prairie Scenes and the North Dakota prairies and its seasons. A description of the development of the choral cycle throughout music history and a biography of Edwin Fissinger and his compositional style are also included.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Jilek, Dean Francis
Partner: UNT Libraries