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Negotiating Decades of Change in America: The Houston Chinese Traditional Music Group

Description: For over two hundred years, Chinese immigrants have brought ancient customs and musical traditions to their new homes in America. As in many immigrant communities, a new heritage that embodies and exhibits both the quintessential features of American culture and genuine Chinese heritage have come together to form new expressive cultures that are uniquely "Chinese American." As the youngest of the major American Chinese immigrant centers, the city of Houston, Texas provides an exemplary example of a distinct cultural cohesion that, in part, resulted from significant cultural and political upheavals in the latter half of the twentieth century. During this era of political unrest, many Chinese people's attitudes towards their traditional culture changed drastically. The Houston Chinese Traditional Music Group (HCTMG) is a Chinese orchestra comprised of amateur and professional musicians ranging in age from 13 to over 60 years old. Performing regularly for the Chinese immigrant population in Houston, HCTMG's take on traditional Chinese music deviates greatly from that of older, more established immigrant communities on the East and West Coasts and in some parts of mainland China. Via participant observation, interviews, and analysis of source materials, this paper examines how changing political and economic climates in China during the 1960s to the 1990s—when the majority of HCTMG musicians lived in China –are reflected in the musical decisions of HCTMG and the greater Houston Chinese immigrant community at large.
Date: August 2017
Creator: Mei, Yuxin
Partner: UNT Libraries

Looking through a Different Lens, Beyond Censorship: The American Reception of "Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District"

Description: The censorship of Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District is a familiar story to musicologists, but reception of the opera is not frequently mentioned. Examining the reception of a work can bring a work's relative importance into focus. In this thesis, German literary and reception theorist Hans Robert Jauss's model of the horizon of expectations is applied to reviews of American productions of Lady Macbeth. Curiosity about communism following the Great Depression in 1930s, America and American music critics' knowledge that Soviet composers worked for the Soviet regime led to the belief that Lady Macbeth was officially approved export from the Soviet Union. When the article condemning the opera as a Western formalism appeared in the Soviet magazine, Pravda, Americans needed to adjust their understanding of Lady Macbeth as a socialist expression. Following the work's revival in San Francisco in 1981, the influence of Solomon Volkov's Testimony is prevalent in many reviews. Many reviewers use Volkov's narrative of Shostakovich as covert dissident of the Soviet Union to assert that the censorship of the opera was about the content of the plot and not the music. Following the Soviet rejection of the work, American critics tried to claim Shostakovich for the West based on the values of individual freedom and feminism set forth in Lady Macbeth.
Date: August 2017
Creator: Cassell, Holly Kathleen
Partner: UNT Libraries

Listening in the Living Room: The Pursuit of Authentic Spaces and Sound in Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) Do It Yourself (DIY) Punk

Description: In the Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) do-it-yourself (DIY) punk scene, participants attempt to adhere to notions of authenticity that dictate whether a band, record label, performance venue, or individual are in compliance with punk philosophy. These guiding principles champion individual expression, contributions to one's community (scene), independence from the mainstream music industry and consumerism, and the celebration of amateurism and the idea that everyone should "do it yourself." While each city or scene has its own punk culture, participants draw on their perceptions of the historic legacy of punk and on experiences with contemporaries from around the world. For this thesis, I emphasize the significance of performance spaces and the sonic aesthetic of the music in enacting and reinforcing notions of punk authenticity. The live performance of music is perceived as the most authentic setting for punk music, and bands go to great lengths to recreate this soundscape in the recording studio. Bands achieve this sense of liveness by recording as a group, rather than individually for a polished studio sound mix, or by inviting friends and fans into the studio to help record a live show experience. House venues have been key to the development of the DFW scene with an emphasis on individual participation through hosting concerts in their homes. This creates a stronger sense of community in DIY punk performance. Through participation observation, interviews, analysis of source materials, as well as research in previous Punk scholarship, questions of authenticity, consumerism, and technology and sound studies, this thesis updates work on the experience of sound, listening, and the importance of space in DIY punk communities today.
Date: December 2017
Creator: Peters, Sean Louis
Partner: UNT Libraries

Depicting Affect through Text, Music, and Gesture in Venetian Opera, c. 1640-1658

Description: Although early Venetian operas by composers such as Claudio Monteverdi and Francesco Cavalli offer today's listeners profound moments of emotion, the complex codes of meaning connecting emotion (or affect) with music in this repertoire are different from those of later seventeenth-century operatic repertoire. The specific textual and musical markers that librettists and composers used to indicate individual emotions in these operas were historically and culturally contingent, and many scholars thus consider them to be inaccessible to listeners today. This dissertation demonstrates a new analytical framework that is designed to identify the specific combinations of elements that communicate each lifelike emotion in this repertoire. Re-establishing the codes that govern the relationship between text, musical sound, and affect in this repertoire illuminates the nuanced emotional language of operas by composers such as Claudio Monteverdi, Francesco Cavalli, Antonio Cesti, and Francesco Lucio. The new analytical framework that underlies this study derives from analysis of seventeenth-century Venetian explanations and depictions of emotional processes, which reveal a basis in their society's underlying Aristotelian philosophy. Chapters III and IV examine extant documents from opera librettists, composers, audience members, and their associates to reveal how they understood emotions to work in the mind and body. These authors, many of whom were educated by Aristotelian scholars at the nearby University of Padua, understood action and emotion to be bound together in a reciprocal, causal relationship, and this synthesis was reflected in the way that they depicted affect in opera. It also guided the ways that singer-actors performed and audiences interpreted this music. In contrast, post-1660 Baroque operas from France and Italy express affect according to the musical conventions of the Doctrine of Affections (based in the ideas of René Descartes) and aim to present a single, clear emotion for each large semantic unit (recitative or aria). This paradigm ...
Date: May 2018
Creator: Hagen, Emily June
Partner: UNT Libraries

Searching for Songs of the People: The Ideology of the Composers' Collective and Its Musical Implications

Description: The Composers' Collective, founded by leftist composers in 1932 New York City, sought to create proletarian music that avoided the "bourgeois" traditions of the past and functioned as a vehicle to engage Americans in political dialogue. The Collective aimed to understand how the modern composer became isolated from his public, and discussions on the relationship between music and society pervade the radical writings of Marc Blitzstein, Charles Seeger, and Elie Siegmeister, three of the organization's most vocal members. This new proletarian music juxtaposed revolutionary text with avant-garde musical idioms that were incorporated in increasingly greater quantities; thus, composers progressively acclimated the listener to the dissonance of modern music, a distinctive sound that the Collective hoped would become associated with revolutionary ideals. The mass songs of the two Workers' Song Books published by the Collective, illustrate the transitional phase of the musical implementation of their ideology. In contrast, a case study of the song "Chinaman! Laundryman!" by Ruth Crawford Seeger, a fringe member of the Collective, suggests that this song belongs within the final stage of proletarian music, where the text and highly modernist music seamlessly interact to create what Charles Seeger called an "art-product of the highest type."
Date: May 2018
Creator: Chaplin-Kyzer, Abigail
Partner: UNT Libraries

Crisis and Catharsis: Linear Analysis and the Interpretation of Herbert Howells' "Requiem" and "Hymnus Paradisi"

Description: Hymnus Paradisi (1938), a large-scale choral and orchestral work, is well-known as an elegiac masterpiece written by Herbert Howells in response to the sudden loss of his young son in 1935. The composition of this work, as noted by the composer himself and those close to him, successfully served as a means of working through his grief during the difficult years that followed Michael's death. In this dissertation, I provide linear analyses for Howells' Hymnus Paradisi as well as its predecessor, Howells' Requiem (1932), which was adapted and greatly expanded in the creation of Hymnus Paradisi. These analyses and accompanying explanations are intended to provide insight into the intricate contrapuntal style in which Howells writes, showing that an often complex musical surface is underpinned by traditional linear and harmonic patterns on the deeper structural levels. In addition to examining the middleground and background structural levels within each movement, I also demonstrate how Howells creates large-scale musical continuity and shapes the overall composition through the use of large-scale linear connections, shown through the meta-Ursatz (an Ursatz which extends across multiple movements creating multi-movement unity). Finally, in my interpretation of these analyses, I discuss specific motives in Hymnus Paradisi which, I hypothesize, musically represent the crisis of Michael's death. These motives are initially introduced in the "Preludio," composed out on multiple structural levels as Hymnus Paradisi unfolds, and, finally, I argue, are transformed as a representation of the process of healing, and ultimately, catharsis.
Date: August 2018
Creator: Davenport, Jennifer Tish
Partner: UNT Libraries

Metric Dissonance in Non-Isochronous Meters

Description: Although music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries makes frequent use of non-isochronous meter (meters involving beats of different length, such as 5/4 and 7/8), most studies on meter and metric dissonance focus on isochronous meters (meters involving beats of the same length, such as 4/4 and 9/8). This dissertation bridges this gap by developing two methodologies to account for metric dissonance involving non-isochronous pulses: modified ski-hill graphs and the composite beat attack point system. Modified ski-hill graphs, adapted from Richard Cohn's ski-hill graphs, illustrate metric states involving non-isochronous pulses and reveal degrees of dissonance in musical passages that share time spans, as in 5/4 grouped 3+2 vs. 5/4 grouped 2+3. The composite beat attack point system uses rhythmic notation to illustrate metric states involving any pulse duration or time span, revealing specific points of dissonance and consonance, relative strength of dissonance and consonance, and patterns of dissonance and consonance. The methodology is used to closely examine the treatment of metric dissonance in Holst's "Mars," from The Planets, Ligeti's Hungarian Rock (Chaconne), and Ligeti's Désordre. The analyses focus on passages where the metric dissonance becomes ever more pronounced and ends up obliterating any sense of meter.
Date: August 2018
Creator: Smith, Jayson
Partner: UNT Libraries

Composing-Out Notre-Dame: How Louise Bertin Expresses the Hugolian Themes of Fate and Decay in "La Esmeralda"

Description: From 1831 to 1836, Victor Hugo and Louise Bertin collaborated on an opera titled La Esmeralda. For Hugo, it would be the only opera libretto he would ever write, a mere footnote to his collection of widely admired novels, plays, and poetry; for Bertin, however, it would become her most important work, yet seemingly destined to fade into obscurity like so many great pieces of art. Using Schenkerian analysis, this thesis uncovers the tonal and voice-leading structure of the first act of La Esmeralda. A study of this nature, which operates from the premise that forms as large and complex as opera can be examined in terms of a large-scale structure, is valuable because it sheds new light on the correlation of tonal structure and dramatic organization. Through these methods, Act I of La Esmeralda is read as a background progression from D major (with F# kopfton) to F major, composing-out an F#/F♮ dichotomy introduced in the overture. With reference to several musical-symbolic ideas - including the representation of virtue through the pitch F#, the key of Notre-dame's bells - it is shown how the musical structure of Act I expresses the Hugolian themes of fate and decay.
Date: August 2018
Creator: Walls, Levi Nigel Xenon
Partner: UNT Libraries

Tonal Enigma: A Study of Problematic Openings and Endings

Description: When talking about tonal music, we sometimes tend to take for granted the idea that the tonic should always be clearly established either at the beginning or the end. However, there are composers who sometimes deviate from the normal path by creating different types of riddles or tonal enigmas in their works. Some of these riddles can be solved later on as the piece progresses; yet others may need to bexplained with the help of some external references. This thesis examines three such examples, each of which poses its unique enigma. The second movement of Bruckner's Symphony No. 1 presents a dualism between Ab and F (paralleled by their dominants Eb and C); Brahms's Alto Rhapsody involves an enormous auxiliary cadence spanning 2/3 of the piece and a seemingly plagal cadence which turns out to be authentic with the V suppressed; and eventually, Grieg's setting of Dereinst, dereinst, Gedanke mein provides a paradoxical ending which may be understood as incorporating the composer's attitude towards the text.
Date: August 2018
Creator: Yun, Xiao
Partner: UNT Libraries

Developing Variation and Melodic Contour Analysis: A New Look at the Music of Max Reger

Description: Max Reger was a prolific composer on the threshold of modernism. The style of his extensive musical output was polarizing among his contemporaries. A criticism of Reger's music is its complex and dense musical structure. Despite writing tonal music, Reger often pushes the boundaries of tonality so far that all sense of formal organization is seemingly imperceptible. In this dissertation, I offer what I observed to be a new way of discerning Reger's motivic relationships and formal structures within and between movements. There are 3 primary tools and methods I incorporated to make these observations. Schoenberg's developing variation, melodic contour analysis as discussed by Elizabeth West-Marvin and Diana Deutsch, and Janet Schmalfeldt's motivic cyclicism stemming from internal themes. In this dissertation I examine five different musical works by Reger: D minor Piano Quartet, Clarinet Quintet, Piano Concerto, String Quartet, op. 121 and E minor Piano Trio, op. 102. My analysis shows how Reger relies on melodic contours of his motives to connect musical moments across entire movements and entire works with multiple movements. These motives are developed and often mark structurally significant moments providing the organization often perceived as missing in Reger's music.
Date: August 2018
Creator: McConnell, Sarah
Partner: UNT Libraries