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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