Music Theses and Dissertations

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    Moonlight on the Pearl River
    (2022) Bi, Jiheng; Wilson, Mark; Music; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Moonlight on the Pearl River for Orchestra Moonlight on the Pearl River (Chinese: 鵝潭月色) is an orchestral work that depicts colorful and various scenes of the Pearl River of Canton (Guangzhou) in southern China. As the mother river of Canton, the Pearl River carries numerous precious memories of the people living there, and multiple celebrations are held on the river throughout the year, including fireworks before the Lunar New Year; dragon boat races in the Dragon Boat Festival during June; thousands of swimmers crossing the river in summer; reflection of the moon in the Mid-Autumn Festival, and more. The Chinese title 鵝潭月色specifically describes the moonlight on the “geese pond (Cantonese: Pak Ngo Tam)”, which is the widest section of the Pearl River within the city, and is where the fireworks take place during the Lunar New Year. As a child, I remember I usually had a hearty dinner with my family in the Mid-Autumn Festival. After that, we would have a walk holding lanterns along the Pearl River in the moonlight and enjoy the reflection of the moon on the water surface, as the moon is always the fullest on the Mid-Autumn Day. The Chinese title is a mixture that blends together the specific part of the river where the Lunar New Year is celebrated on (“geese pond”) and the moonlight in the Mid-Autumn Festival. When I grew up and left my hometown, family reunions in these traditional festivals become nearly impossible. Writing this piece gave me a chance to recall the pleasant moments happening in the places where I spent the time in my childhood. This piece is approximately eleven minutes in a single movement. The instrumentation is piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn (also plays oboe 2), 2 clarinets in B-flat, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets in C, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, bass drum, crash cymbals and suspended cymbal, snare drum, tenor drum, 5 tom-toms, triangle, wood blocks, glockenspiel, xylophone, marimba, vibraphone, celeste, piano, harp, and strings: violins I, II, violas, cellos, and double basses. Starting with a slow section, then gradually transitioning to a fast one with ostinatos in the percussion instruments, finally reaching a joyful and even faster section, the overall structure of this symphonic composition consists of three main sections in a slow-fast-faster order. Titled “Moonlight”, the first section (mm.1-65) opens the piece in a poetic manner, describing the reflection of the full moon in the Mid-Autumn Festival. The reflecting image on the river changes from time to time due to the ripples. The musical style I used here is called San Ban, a traditional method that is in a slow tempo with irregular and free meter changes, which can be commonly found in Chinese folk music and operas. Typically, it gives performers the freedom to control meter changes and tempo as improvisations. Instead of freely improvising, I have written specific meter changes. The second section (mm.66-176), called “Fireworks”, represents the fireworks in the Lunar New Year. The ostinato begins in the marimba and piano, then travels between instruments and instrumental groups, providing a colorful assortment of various timbres. “Dragon Boats”, the last section, pictures an intense dragon boat race on May 5th in the lunar calendar every year. The dragon boat theme C-Bb-D-F-G-C-G-Eb-D-F (m.181-182) was borrowed from a traditional Cantonese instrumental piece Sailongduojin (dragon boat race). The usage of syncopations, dotted rhythms, and irregular meters helps depicted the competitive environment of the race. A descending and then ascending 16th-note pentatonic pattern can be seen at the end of each phrase, representing the “tail combining” and “changing beginning and doubling ending” techniques from traditional musical structure. In addition, this pattern also reflects rhyming in literature. Other elements relating to dragon boat races, such as the accelerando (mm.249-269), constant drumbeats (m.249), firecracker celebration (mm.270-294) and the triumph (m.301), can be found in this section. The major feature of the musical language used in this piece is inspired by the scale of the Yee Fan key, a special scale that is rarely used except in Cantonese music. In a typical pentatonic setting, pitches are C-D-E-G-A-C (C pentatonic). Scale degrees 4 and 7 are usually omitted. However, in Yee Fan key, the pitches in the scale are G-B-C-D-F-G with A and E as passing or neighbor tones. These differences make the Yee Fan key sound neither like C pentatonic nor G pentatonic (G-A-B-D-E-G). Moreover, frequently the B is lowered, and F is raised by a quarter tone, making it sound similar to La-Do-Re-Mi-Sol-La in Bb pentatonic. Instead of being omitted in the typical pentatonic scale, the scale degrees 4 and 7 are highly emphasized in the Yee Fan key. In this work the two altered pitches are modified as Bb and F# to adapt to western tuning. The Yee Fan key distinguishes Cantonese music from any other Chinese music. It incorporates the characteristics of C pentatonic (when B and F are natural), G pentatonic (starting on G, when F is raised), Bb pentatonic (when B is lowered), and the western tonality (m2 interval and all seven pitches are used). This piece explores the possibilities of forming different pitch combinations based on the Yee Fan key system. This work not only represents an important milestone in my career, but also carries my identity and the sweet impressions of my hometown.
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    The King Shall Rejoice (HWV 265) by George Frederic HandeI: a Critical Edition and Commentary
    (1987) Brisco, Frederick Arthur; Traver, Paul; Music; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md)
    Heretofore there has been no modern edition available of George Frederic Handel's anthem for chorus and orchestra, The King Shall Rejoice, companion piece to the Dettingen Te Deum. The first part of this project, an edition and commentary, is prepared in accordance with the standards of modern scholarship and at the same time meets the needs of today's performers. The project ls based on the composer's autograph manuscript corrected, where necessary, from the readings in other contemporary sources originating in Handel's circle. Except for one secondary source which is in a private collection and for the moment unavailable, all known sources have been collated prior to determining that the autograph should serve as the copy-text. The process of collating variants led to a hypothesis regarding the filiation of the sources. The edition includes a preface that discusses the events which led to the composition of the anthem and presents what lnformation we have about its first performance. The edition and critical commentary adhere to guidelines adapted from those of the Hallische Handel-Ausgabe, the new complete critical edition of Handel's works. The second part of the project consisted of a performance of the Dettingen Anthem conducted by the editor on April 26,1987 at WiIde Lake High School, Columbia Maryland, with the Columbia Baroque Ensemble based on the the score presented here.
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    Symbolism in the Music of Lili Boulanger: an Analysis of Clairieres dans le ciel
    (1993) Dopp, Bonnie Jo; Davis, Shelley; Music; University of Maryland (College Park, Md); Digital Repository at the University of Maryland
    French composer Lili Boulanger (1893-1918) lived and worked at a time of experimentation and change in European musical techniques and aesthetics. Her documented interest in French Symbolist literature, her sheltered, sickly life and her mystic personal beliefs were reflected in a style of composition that grew more subjective as she matured. Analysis of her longest work, the song cycle Clairieres dans le ciel, when amplified by specific information about her life, reveals symbolism that parallels personal meanings contemporary Symbolist artists in literature and painting encoded in their work. Other composers of the period engaged in similar semiotic invention, though the term "Symbolist" is seldom applied to them. When critical hallmarks of Symbolist writings are employed, they support the assignation "Symbolist" to the music of Lili Boulanger.
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    A Study Of Background Characteristics, Preparation, And Perceptions Of Black And Non-Black Performing Musicians As It Relates To Selection And Placement Criteria Within Major And Regional Symphony Orchestras
    (1989) Edwards, George Leonard; Craig, Randall J.; Curriculum and Instruction; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md)
    The purpose of this study was twofold. The first was to investigate the extent to which major and regional symphony orchestras employed non-Black and Black musicians. The second was to investigate the background characteristics (education, musical training, culture), Professional experiences, and perceptions of non-Black and Black musicians in major and regional symphony orchestras. The population was composed of 31 major symphony orchestras (orchestras with annual operating budgets in excess of $3.4 million), and 44 regional symphony orchestras (orchestras with annual operating budgets between $950,000 and $3.4 million). From this population, the sample was composed of 75 orchestra managers and 244 performing musicians, 200 non-Black and 44 Black. Data were collected through the use of two questionnaires, one to managers of the orchestras and one to musicians in the orchestras. An analysis of the data was made using descriptive and inferential statistical techniques: frequencies, means, chi-square and MANOVA. The statistical Package from the Social Sciences (SPSS) computer program was used to process the information received in response to questionnaire items. The results revealed that very little progress has been made in hiring Black musicians in symphony orchestras since 1977. There is less than two percent Black employment of musicians in major and regional symphony orchestras. Most of these orchestras have no official training program or activity to increase the number of Black performing musicians, nor is there any significant attempt to recruit qualified Black musicians. Orchestra managers acknowledge the limited participation of Black musicians in symphony orchestras and indicated that few qualified Black musicians apply and audition. This study showed that the background experiences (musical and educational) of the two groups of player personnel (non-Black and Black) were very similar; however, because of the fierce competition for positions, few Blacks apply and audition. It is recommended that early and consistent exposure and a traditional conservatory style of training that concentrates on mastering the instrument and gaining knowledge of the symphony repertoire serve as a means for promoting symphonic music as a career.
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    Beyond Rococo: Variation Form in Fifteen Works for Cello
    (2022) Doveala, Emily Ann; Kutz, Eric; Music; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation examines the formal structures, technical demands, and historical significance of 15 works for cello that take the form of theme and variations. The works featured are variations by Ludwig van Beethoven (Variations WoO 45, Variations Op. 66, and Variations WoO 46,) Felix Mendelssohn (Variations Concertantes), Jean Sibelius (Theme and Variations), Gioachino Rossini (Une Larme), Ferruccio Busoni (Kultaselle), Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (Variations), Donald Tovey (Elegiac Variations), Paul Hindemith (A frog he went a-courting), Bohuslav Martinů (Variations on a Slovakian Theme), Imogen Holst (Fall of the Leaf), Edison Denisov (Variations on a Theme of Schubert), Elena Ruehr (Prelude Variations), and Adolphus Hailstork (Theme and Variations on “Draw the Sacred Circle Closer”). These pieces are divided into two categories: works with existing themes and works with original themes. The discussion of each piece includes the historical context of the work, relevant biographical information on the composer, and description of the role of the theme and the use of specific compositional techniques to alter that theme. Through the examination of these pieces, this paper accomplishes three objectives: tracing the history of cello playing through the expansion of technical demands as observed in these works; following the evolution of variation form in this selection of music; and encouraging the increased inclusion of these compositions in cello recitals. The recitals were performed at the University of Maryland School of Music’s Gildenhorn Recital Hall and Tawes Recital Hall. Recordings can be found in the Digital Repository at the University of Maryland (DRUM).