Theses - Music


Recent Submissions

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  • ItemOpen Access
    Metaphors for Listening in Johann Sebastian Bach's Germany
    Seow, Mark
    Bach studies has traditionally sought to decipher the theological meanings of Bach’s music. The role of the analyst has left performers with little agency: their job, ostensibly, has been to recognise and make audible the theological meanings that Bach’s musical notation encodes. Within this paradigm, listeners have potentially even less to contribute. They merely detect what has already been detected. This project seeks to explore how Bach’s music functioned beyond such modes of exegesis. I propose a historically oriented approach to Bach’s sacred cantatas that understands musical listening and performance as ways in which faith was embodied and cultivated by believers. This thesis examines three metaphors that circulated in devotional writings of early modern Lutheran Germany to reconstruct and reimagine congregational listening experiences of a Bach cantata. I employ historical metaphor as a framework through which listeners felt music to work tangibly on and in their bodies during a cantata performance, as well as how they used music to fashion themselves into better Christians. Each of the three chapters is dedicated to a metaphor prevalent in early modern Lutheran Germany. The first chapter looks at the metaphor of music as liquid. I establish flow as a concept central to how early modern Lutherans understood music to come from God, move between performers, reach a listener, and affect change in a listener’s body. The second chapter is dedicated to the metaphor of farming. Lutherans were taught to cultivate their hearts as if farmland, and good listening was the process of bringing God’s Word-seed to fruition. I explore congregational listening as something that shifted between different aspects of the metaphor: aural attention could constitute forms of agricultural labour, growth, and propagation. The third chapter explores the status of music as different kinds of wind. I show how Lutherans experienced church music as an aerated mixture which included the breeze of the Holy Spirit. Musical analyses in each chapter test out these modes of listening. As a whole, this thesis calls for historical listening to be understood as something multiple, embodied, and imaginative. It seeks to understand listening as a much broader set of acts that stretch beyond the temporal limits and spatial context of a specific musical performance.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Beyond Italian Opera. Manuel García in postcolonial Mexico City (1826-1828)
    Milella, Francesco
    The thesis 'Beyond Italian opera. Manuel García in postcolonial Mexico City (1826-1828)' examines the operatic activities of the tenor and composer Manuel García in Mexico City between 1826 and 1828, and how they intersected with the Mexican nation-building project in the aftermath of independence from Spain. Building from the small body of previous academic work on the topic, my thesis aims to rethink these years as a short yet critical step in the cultural transition of Mexico into its postcolonial identity. Arriving at a period when Italian opera was widely viewed by the new Latin American elites as a powerful marker of civilisation against the perceived backwardness of the colonial state, García appeared to offer a chance for Mexico to emerge as a culturally modern nation in the new Atlantic geography of the post-Napoleonic world. As soon as his performances began, however, García’s music presented local audiences with an unexpected problem, in revealing new approaches to Italian opera which did not correspond with what Mexican audiences had come to know under that name during the cultural domination of the Bourbon empire. Drawing upon a wide array of primary sources, the thesis investigates how opposed understandings of operatic italianità collided in Mexico, leading to new ways of composing, performing and thinking about Italian opera. The first part of the thesis focuses on the encounter between García himself and the operatic world in Mexico (chapter 1), as well as the various misconceptions that preceded and shaped this encounter (chapter 2). The second part considers the impact that García’s performances and compositions had in Mexico City, from his first stagings of European works (chapter 3) to his initial attempts to adapt to his local audience (chapter 4 and 5), to his final bid for local success and his return to Paris (chapter 6). In particular, my thesis investigates García’s corpus of Mexican operas as part of a wider network of transatlantic exchanges and local interactions where political and cultural frameworks of the past (Spanish colonialism) and the present (Europe cultural imperialism) were continuously contested and renegotiated. This work therefore offers new perspectives for rethinking the composition and performance of Italian bel canto in Latin America in the early nineteenth century as a complex process that, by welcoming yet also challenging the cultural authority of Europe, helped to shape new American identities.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Georg Philipp Telemann and the Invention of 'the Polish Style': Musical Polishness in the Early Modern German Imagination
    Newton-Jackson, Paul
    This dissertation explores the history and cultural significance of Polish-style music and dance across early modern German lands, focusing on the composer Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767), who was regarded by his contemporaries as a leading practitioner of ‘the Polish style’ of composition. Although references to ‘Polish’ music and dance are abundant in German-language sources from the sixteenth century onwards, it is rarely clear what early modern subjects meant when referring to music as being ‘in a Polish style’. The historical record seems rife with contradiction and ambiguity concerning the origins, musical features and – most importantly – socio-cultural connotations of these repertoires. In some sources, Polish-style music is associated with the splendour of courtly ceremony, while in others, it is linked with peasant musicians and dancing bears. Likewise, some writers viewed Polish-style music as the paragon of masculinity, while others decried its effeminate qualities. And for some witnesses, Polishness in music was understood in terms of on-the-page musical elements; for others, it was manifest in the sounds of certain instruments and performance practices. I resolve these apparent contradictions by deconstructing the idea of a single well-defined concept of Polish-style music. I show that several different traditions of music and dance were considered ‘Polish’ for different reasons by different early modern communities. Far from representing a long-standing and widely recognised mode of music-making, ‘the Polish style’ is, I argue, best understood as the invention of Telemann and his Hamburg circle. This ‘new’ style was a synthesis of pre-existing traditions, which Telemann applied creatively to a host of novel compositional contexts. Exploring these traditions separately allows us to situate individual instances of what I term ‘musical Polishness’ (that is, music described as ‘Polish’ by non-Poles) within the daily lives of the early modern Germans who sang, played, danced and listened to this music. In the process, I challenge the notion that Polish-style music was widely perceived as exotic or ‘other’. Instead, these repertoires often reveal porous borders, entangled identities and shared cultural practices, thus destabilising recent narratives of an East-West geopolitical divide in early modern Europe.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Musical Communication in the Twenty-First Century
    Lisney, Joy
    Music is a powerful means of communication. It transcends barriers of language, time and space, generates infinite variations of expression and can produce profound emotional responses. In the twentieth century, however, the composer became an increasingly isolated figure and the quest for the avant-garde pushed many listeners away from contemporary music. This portfolio and the accompanying commentary examine how a composer working in the twenty-first century might reconcile creative originality with music’s primary aim - communication with a live audience. To this end, I have drawn on my experience as both composer and performer in the composition of six new works ranging from music for solo cello to music for symphony orchestra and choir. The first two pieces, ScordaturA and Thread of the Infinite, have performance issues at the centre of their composition. Prelude, Fugue and Postlude and Im Walde are considered mostly in terms of their reference to existing music, a strategy which can help audiences to understand the idiom of new music by associating it with something familiar. In my discussion of the final two pieces, Snaer and Viriditas, I focus on the use of modes.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Orchestration in the Operas of Richard Wagner
    Reeve, Edward Alexander Morrison
    Orchestration has remained remarkably underrepresented in the field of Wagner scholarship, despite the fact that Wagner’s treatment of the orchestra was recognised as exceptional within his lifetime and has been consistently praised since. David Trippett, for example, has cited orchestration in the years around Lohengrin as “perhaps Wagner’s only compositional parameter to escape ridicule during a decade shot through with partisan criticism”, while Richard Strauss claimed in 1904 that Wagner’s operas “mark the only noteworthy progress in the art of instrumentation since Berlioz”. The aim of the dissertation is to achieve a better understanding of both the importance of orchestration in Wagner’s output and the significance of Wagner within the development of orchestration. The singular ontological position of orchestration between the practical and the aesthetic justifies a methodology that combines positivistic and interpretative strategies. A synthetic approach is needed to bridge several disparate perspectives on Wagner’s orchestration, whether the systematic, data-driven angles of Eugen Thomas and Egon Voss, the broader theorisation of scholars such as Theodor Adorno and Tobias Janz, or the performance-based practical experience of commentators such as Richard Strauss and Pierre Boulez. In addition, the dissertation embraces thought in other musicological spheres, such as the role of instruments and the orchestral medium as “agents”, traditions of associating woodwind voices with genders, and Wagner’s interaction with scientific debates of his day. The first chapter examines Wagner’s relationship with the orchestra and with the emerging concept of “orchestration”. The second and third chapters explore two principal dimensions to Wagner’s treatment of the orchestra: texture and sonority. Ultimately, the aims of the dissertation are to provide new historical, theoretical and analytical approaches to Wagner’s treatment of the orchestra, and, for the first time, to treat the composer’s orchestration as on a par with other musical parameters.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Improvising Otherwise: Sound, Nature, and Coloniality in Early Modern England
    Lahham, Fatima
    Improvisation can be a mode of imagining otherwise: a practice that allows us to re-consider and question ways of writing, sounding, and being in the world. In this thesis I use improvisation as a lens through which we can listen to alternative stories of early modern English music history, situating my musical research within histories of the body, sounds of nature, Anglo-Ottoman relations, and the coloniality of the travelogue. Through reading theological texts, travelogues, literature about the natural world, plays, poetry, and music theory treatises, I develop deeply contextual understandings of historical improvisation practices that have the potential to transform historical performance practice today. My work unfolds over four main areas. First, I focus on improvisation and the body in contexts of ‘extemporary’ prayer, listening to ways in which improvised prayer practice was described as an embodied (and sometimes transgressive) practice. I demonstrate that extemporary practices were premised on notions of classical memory arts, and the idea that sensory experiences left imprints on the body. These imprints could then be ‘read’ in the process of improvisation. Critiques of improvisations that were considered transgressive thus often created boundaries around the body and its improvisations, implicating notions of otherness. Second, I turn to two English travelogues and one work of speculative fiction, reading them as performative and improvisatory scripts of reciprocal encounter. I consider depictions of improvising Ottoman subjects in the Levant, as well as reconceptualising the travelogue itself as a series of scripted improvisations enacted by the travellers. I suggest that these texts also became a means for readers back home to enact ‘vicarious’ travel and participate in processes of world-making. Third, I explore sounds of the natural world that were theorised as improvised/extemporary and heard in ways that draw on boundaries of ‘the human’ and religious/racial ‘other’. I focus on texts about the nightingale and the bee, exploring how the bee’s genders and the nightingale’s tongues affected the ways in which they were constructed as improvising queens. I examine how histories of natural sound add to historical associations of improvisation with ‘otherness’, and how these associations are intimately entwined with histories of gender and coloniality. Finally, I explore how my contextual research into improvisation can allow us to rethink our relationships to early modern musical texts and the role of historical imagination in music-making today. Through readings of early modern music theory treatises and discussions of my own practice as heard on the accompanying album, I argue that historical improvisation could become a space for historical re-conceptualisation and political reimagination, enabling the ‘historically-informed’ musician/music historian to experiment with practices of improvising ‘otherwise’.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Life, Work and the Individual Classical Performer: Maria Yudina's Artistic Practice and Imagination, 1947–70
    Behan, Adam; Behan, Adam [0000-0003-4796-3720]
    The detailed study of individual classical performers has traditionally been restricted to the genre of music biography, one which is rich in contextualisation but light on direct engagement with the performer’s abilities as captured in recordings. More recent approaches to performance use empirical techniques to quantify and discuss what is termed performer ‘style’, but often without embedding that style within the context of said performer’s life or cultural surroundings. In other words, there is a methodological rift of sorts between biographical and empirical approaches to performers, one which creates a sharp divide between life and work. In this thesis, I attempt to integrate them through a study of the twentieth-century Russian pianist Maria Veniaminovna Yudina (1899–1970), a neglected but enormously significant musician in the Soviet Union. I consider these issues and introduce Yudina in Chapters 1–2. I then undertake several case studies based around Yudina’s discography. In Chapters 3–4, I explore Yudina’s romantic and baroque repertoire by comparing her performances in live concerts with studio recordings, framing the differences and their significance in terms of recent theories of liveness. The concert hall emerges as a key venue for Yudina’s artistic practice in which she experimented and took risks that are not found in her studio recordings, pointing to the importance of performance setting as a contextualising factor in studies of recordings. In Chapter 5, I analyse her recordings of contemporary repertoire in the context of her place within 1960s Soviet vnye culture and her ‘new’ music ideals. In Chapters 6–7, I discuss two of her last sets of recordings in relation to detailed essays that she wrote to accompany them. I argue that her interpretation of Musorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition constitutes a performance of Russian national identity, one geared toward community building underpinned by a Russian Orthodox faith. I approach her last set of recordings for solo piano—six Brahms intermezzos—as an act of autobiographical making based around themes of loss, mortality and nostalgia, all of which I conceptualise in terms of the idea of lateness. I conclude with two main points. First, I draw out the implications of Yudina’s varying performing strategies across baroque, romantic and contemporary repertoire, arguing for a move away from style and towards a framework of craft. Second, I assess the prospects (and perils) of integrative approaches to a performer’s artistry for performance studies and musicology more generally.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Modes of Resistance: Memory, Language and Identity in the Performance of Assyrian Liturgy in Iraq and Beyond
    Pakbaz, Rashel
    As an ancient eastern rite, the Assyrian Church of the East liturgy and music have been the guardian of the Assyrian Christian faith, language and culture for more than a millennium. With the Church’s core activities happening in Mesopotamia, its liturgical music provides additional insight into the history of musical developments in the region, tells the story of Assyrians as a people and culture and recounts their perseverance through a series of persecutions and migrations. Accordingly, this project studies the advancement of several modal systems in the region to determine this tradition’s position in the context of the Middle Eastern music theory. Consequently, this work explores modal aspects of this music and different schools of performance using music analysis and ethnographic data collected in Iraq, Iran, the United Kingdom and the United States. This thesis also studies the role the liturgical music of the Assyrian Church of the East plays in the preservation and presentation of Assyrian ethnic identity, especially after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the rise of ISIS in 2014, by further focusing on the martyrs’ hymn as a chant genre and the relationship between the liturgical language and music. Finally, this study investigates the connection between this musical repertoire and Assyrian musicians through two case studies, including a church musician in Iraq and an Assyrian pop singer in Chicago, to further examine the Church community’s perception of their liturgical music as guardian of tradition and signifier of Assyrianness.
  • ItemOpen Access
    The Creation of Parisian Organum Purum: Office Organa Dupla in the MLO Sources
    Allison, Chloe Nicola
    This study explores how late twelfth- and early thirteenth-century musicians working in Paris created organum purum. Organum purum is a way of singing chant in two voices that involves the notes of the chant melody being sustained for many times their usual length underneath long and elaborate melismas sung in a newly-fashioned upper voice. Previous scholars have considered the creation of organum purum through the lenses of the medieval ars memoriae and Vatican Organum Treatise (VOT). In this study, detailed analysis of the purum melodies recorded for the extant repertory of thirty-six organa dupla on chants for the office collected in W1 (Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek, Guelf. 628 Helmst.), F (Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Pluteus 29.1) and W2 (Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek, Guelf. 1099 Helmst.) provides the basis for a new assessment of creative processes. The first half of this dissertation present the results of a wide-ranging comparison of the creative procedures evident in all of these upper-voice melodies. They were mostly made in similar ways, indicating that Parisian musicians shared a creative idiom that supported many different aspects of this polyphonic practice. This idiom included, among other things, shared ways of using large intervals and repeated notes, techniques for beginning and ending sections and a set of strategies for developing melodies. Having outlined this basic creative idiom, I then compare different transmissions of organal settings of individual chants in order to determine what the similarities and differences between them might reveal about how musicians created organum purum. Edward Roesner is the only previous scholar to have compared different settings to these ends. In Chapter 4, I engage closely with his suggestion that musicians transmitted models which were not complete, and might sometimes have comprised only consonances and outlined only elements of melodic shape. Singers would then have ‘realised’ these models in different ways, leading to the recording of what might be regarded as the ‘same organum’ in different ways in the extant manuscripts. I propose an alternative hypothesis: that there were two processes that led to the same organum being recorded in different ways. First, musicians deliberately varied melodies, sometimes singing what was originally the same melody in substantially different ways. Second, sometimes they sang different and unrelated settings of individual passages or whole sections within an organum. Any sharing of consonances or melodic detail between such passages is more likely to have been the result of their creation having been supported by the same creative idiom, rather than the two sharing a skeleton model. Passages that are entirely different settings of the same portion of chant are considered in Chapter 5, where the melodies in the W1, F and W2 collections are compared stylistically. The majority of these melodies were created in similar ways, but there are a significant number of melodies in F and W2 that were formulated differently. This means that, even though the W1 office dupla contain the most unica material, that unica material is not stylistically idiosyncratic. Instead, it is the F and W2 repertories that contain more idiosyncratic elements: melodies made up of reusable building blocks shared across different organa and which involve considerably less repetition and development than the majority of purum melodies. This suggests that, despite W1 having been made at St Andrews in Scotland, its repertory of organa dupla for the office was for the most part Parisian, at least from a stylistic point of view. The last chapter considers the possibility of further distinct creative styles. These are evident in the remaining office dupla that are recorded only in W1 or F. These pieces include two sets of three organa, which may have been copied from different exemplars from the other pieces in the collections. They contain melodies unlike those found elsewhere in the extant repertory. It is possible that these give a glimpse of creative styles that were developed by singers at others institutions from those whose practice was recorded in the rest of the office dupla collections. The different analyses and detailed comparisons carried out in this dissertation allow fixed, notated organa dupla to act as records of creative practices. They make it possible to understand not just how those organa which happen to have survived were created but also how various different communities of musicians created organum purum more widely. By the time the extant manuscripts were copied, probably at least fifty years after organum purum was first sung in Paris, there were most likely particular versions of some of the office organa that were sung frequently. Comparing large numbers of the extant organa and considering the creative processes to which they bear witness, however, can give a glimpse of all the polyphony that was sung and never notated, or that was notated but which did not survive.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Constructing Landscapes: Towards a Hybrid Tonality
    (2021-11-27) Brammeld, Christopher
    This thesis consists of a portfolio of five score-based compositions and a commentary associated with each work. There are two instrumental works and three vocal works. The two instrumental works are String Quartet No. 2 and Three Winter Landscapes: Triptych for Orchestra. The three vocal works are Winter Pass (for high voice and piano), In Memoriam (for soprano, flute, clarinet in A, violin and cello), and Marvellous Sweet Music (for two sopranos, two clarinets in B flat and two cellos). Winter Pass is a song cycle on texts by Edward Thomas, while In Memoriam comprises five settings of different war poets, namely, A. E. Housman, Edward Thomas, Leslie Coulson, Richard Aldington, and Willoughby Weaving. Marvellous Sweet Music sets texts from The Tempest, by William Shakespeare. There were two primary considerations in the composition of these works. The first (poetic) element is concerned with how musical sound is made to become a representation of a real or imagined landscape. While in the two instrumental works the landscape is entirely imagined, the landscape in the three vocal works is very much suggested by the texts. Particularly in the two song cycles of war poetry, the texts are very expressionistic, and I attempt to re-create something of the vividness of the poets’ writing. The Shakespeare settings, by contrast, perhaps represent a blend of real and imagined: to the characters within the play, their world is very real, but it is a world imagined by Shakespeare. The second (technical) element is concerned with how the music is actually constructed. My primary consideration here was to blend and juxtapose a variety of different compositional techniques: a hybrid tonality. These techniques include (but are not limited to): traditional tonal harmony (e.g. major, minor, and extended triads), non-functional harmony, controlling levels of perceived consonance and dissonance, multi-tonality, and free atonality. The appendix to the thesis contains my Harmonic Method on Scales of Increasing Intervals, a set of synthetic scales that can be used to create a set of thirteen four-note chords, as well as several earlier works which give context to the present ones.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Common Time: Music, Empathy, and a Politics of Care
    Cao, Erica
    Frameworks for the application of the arts in community settings tend to focus on the development of individuals’ empathy or social bonds. A commensurate level of consideration tends not to be given to the socio-economic, political, and institutional forces and processes that shape such development and to how the arts might help build capacities to manage the impact of such forces and processes. The recognition of persons as interdependent in systems reliant on mutual care has implications for applications of the arts in many specialised domains as well as in general public life. Especially in clinical or social interventions, unrecognised institutional dynamics may introduce or maintain imbalances of power in community and professional practice. Music, as a participatory and temporal activity facilitating social synchrony, can foster dialogic and reciprocal relations in social life. To systematise and study a participatory music activity on an organisational and community level, I designed and implemented two collaborative songwriting programs in clinical and social service settings carried out through the nonprofit organisation, Humans in Harmony. One activity, music corps¸ was a two-month program in New York City involving participants from colleges and social service organisations serving adults with disabilities, at-risk youth, and nursing home residents. Another activity, implemented through a Humans in Harmony chapter at Columbia University Medical Center, paired health professional students with patients in palliative care support groups. Ethnographic observations and participant interviews revealed that engagement in interpersonal processes aligned with a capabilities-informed approach which emphasised social reciprocity, well-being, and flourishing. Moreover, evaluations of the activities through pre- and post-program measures supported a hypothesis of enhancement of interpersonal closeness and in attitudes about empathy and care. Such participatory approaches may offer new frameworks for the application of the arts in response to current geopolitical and cultural challenges.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Performing History: Bach Pianism in Britain, 1920–35
    Riley, Pierre
    The canonical repertoire of Western art music – and, by association, the pantheon of its progenitors – exists both as history and in the living, sounding present. It undergoes reinvention and renegotiation through performance and related activities, prompting reflection on how to account for its multi-faceted ontology. This study applies an array of methodologies to the task of describing and contextualising performance acts with the aim of gaining a more nuanced understanding of one repertoire in one historical time and place. The early decades of the twentieth century were a time of sustained interest in Bach’s music in British musical culture. That interest was manifested with exceptional intensity in the performing, editing, and recording of his keyboard works by pianists. Such a range of phenomena, along with attendant discourses, reveals a historically and culturally situated portrait of the composer as he was understood in Britain between 1920 and 1935. The research questions underlying this enquiry fall into two categories: those related to Bach, and those related to the interaction of performance and history. (1) How did the events of the decades preceding the 1920s shape the way in which Bach and his keyboard works were perceived in Britain? (2) How, by whom, when and where were Bach’s keyboard works performed live, recorded, edited, discussed, taught etc. in Britain during the 1920s and 1930s? Then, (3) How does this range of activity form a more broadly conceived historical narrative? (4) How does the historical context enrich our understanding of the performances themselves? Although it attends to performances and, more generally, to the concerns of the performer, this study is not limited to describing historically situated practices. It seeks more nuanced perspectives on issues such as wider patterns of Bach reception in the twentieth century; how canonical repertoires come to be understood, appreciated, and performed across borders and through time; and finally, how history may be written on the basis of performance events.
  • ItemOpen Access
    'A New Type of Part Writing': Notation and Performance in Beethoven's Late String Quartets
    Stroud, Rachel
    Beethoven’s late string quartets are among his most extraordinary and elusive works. A source of fascination to performers, audiences and scholars alike for nearly two centuries, they are defined by an aesthetic of ‘difficulty’. This thesis argues that one crucial source of difficulty lies in Beethoven’s eccentric uses of notation in the quartets – a difficulty that has had profound implications for the future study and performance of the works. Mirroring the stylistic pluralities of the late quartets themselves, issues of notation and performance are explored through a variety of methodologies, drawn from the digital humanities, Peircean semiotics, anthropology and critical theory. Although the late quartets are the central impetus, this thesis is ultimately about the relational nature of creativity. It conceives of notation not as a textual codification of the composer’s intentions, a private act of composition in the mind, but rather as a mediating material that describes, enacts, engenders, and is dependent upon, social activity. Using Wagner’s notion of Beethoven’s ‘Hearing Eyes’, Chapter 1 considers the influences of Beethoven’s material, writerly approach to composition in his later years and the peculiarly textual emphasis of the quartets’ early reception. Through an analogy with maps and scores, it highlights the importance of considering notation from the perspective of individual performers’ parts. Chapter 2 situates the notational complexity of the late quartets within Beethoven’s entire output through the use of computational methods and statistical analysis. In contrast, Chapter 3 maps a networked understanding of Beethoven’s notation and explores its inextricable entanglement in the social, political and technological currents of 1820s Vienna. Using Alfred Gell’s theory of art and agency, Chapter 4 extends this network to include non-human actors and examines the different ‘material lives’ of the string quartets, both past and present. Ethnographic methods and the insights of twenty-first-century performers are employed to situate this material agency in practice in Chapter 5. The final chapter engages Theodor Adorno’s seminal work on Beethoven’s late style to mediate a very personal source of insight into the unique difficulties of the late quartets: my own, as performer, scholar and listener.
  • ItemOpen Access
    From Lineage to Legacy: Charles Garland Verrinder and Victorian Anglo-Jewish Music
    (2020-09-04) Padley, Danielle
    The work of Charles Garland Verrinder (1834-1904) provides an unusual insight into the world of Jewish music in Victorian Britain. An Anglican musician trained as a chorister at Salisbury Cathedral and with Royal Organist Sir George Elvey, Verrinder’s forty-five-year career as the first organist of the West London Synagogue (Britain’s first ‘Reform’ synagogue) overlapped with his work for the church as well as with many significant professional and amateur music societies in London. Across his career he composed and arranged numerous Hebrew liturgical settings, some with English translation, and took the opportunity as a respected organist and Doctor of Music to present lectures on Jewish music to the wider Victorian public. This dissertation uses Verrinder’s career as a case study through which to examine the multifaceted nature of Anglo-Jewish music in Victorian Britain. Based within a period of Jewish history rarely examined in detail by musicologists, this area of nineteenth-century musical life has long been associated with standard narratives of Anglo-Jewish political emancipation and religious reform, with a vague and often critical focus on the ‘anglicisation’ of synagogue music for purposes of British assimilation. Providing a new, music-focussed approach to this framework, I examine examples of Verrinder’s liturgical settings to shed light on how such an anglicisation was achieved and on its Jewish and non-Jewish reception. Verrinder’s status as an ‘outsider’ in the Jewish world both complements and complicates accusations of ‘otherness’ which subtly (and unsubtly) pervade Victorian opinion on Jews and Judaism, making him a powerful example of Jewish-Christian musical interaction. To that end, the objective of my dissertation is to loosen the bond between Victorian Anglo-Jewish music and the ‘grand narratives’ of British Jewry, reframing the topic within the context of music-making in Victorian Britain. Exploring Verrinder’s work in comparison with that of other musicians and musical educators, I suggest that the widespread publication and performance of ancient Jewish melodies, contemporary compositions and Jewish-related choral works brought this music into line with the broader opus of Victorian sacred repertoire, blurring the distinction between the synagogue, home, and concert hall.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Music, number, and logic in Eriugena’s reading of Augustine’s De musica
    Ball, Nicholas
    This thesis examines John Scotus Eriugena’s reading of Augustine’s De musica. It argues that material from Augustine’s text is presented within a nexus of musical, logical, and numerical traditions and that it contributes to those traditions. Eriugena was a careful and imaginative reader of Augustine’s text. His development of the ideas that he drew from this text always remains rooted in musica, but it point far beyond Augustine’s own immediate concerns. A first part examines the material circumstances of Augustine’s De musica in the early middle ages through the manuscripts themselves as well as ninth- and tenth-century library catalogues. Moreover, it argues that Eriugena knew a glossed copy of the text, which may still survive in Tours. It further posits that Eriugena developed his idea of the uita generalis from glosses on Augustine’s text, though he used it in the first instance to explain parts of Plato’s Timaeus. A second part concerns the definition of musica in the first book of the Periphyseon. Two versions of the definition are found in the earliest copies of this text. One is written in an Irish hand now believed to be the autograph of Eriugena himself, and the other, a revision of the first, by an Irish scribe with a close and longstanding connection to Eriugena, who is known after his hand as i2. This part of the thesis examines the material and intellectual context of the two definitions and the different relations here negotiated between the musical and logical traditions. Finally, a third part argues that Augustine’s De musica made a specific and important contribution to Eriugena’s metaphysics of number. Augustine’s text is the principal source for Eriugena’s writing about number. In particular Eriugena develops an account of number framed by Augustine’s narrative of the double motion of number into memory. The changes made to this narrative better to assimilate it within his own metaphysical outlook again reveal Eriugena to be a careful and imaginative reader of Augustine’s text. The thesis demonstrates a rich and productive relation between musica and other philosophical traditions in the ninth century.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Swinging the Score: Compositional and empirical investigations into the performance of swing and groove rhythms by score-reading musicians
    (2021-01-30) Corcoran, Christopher
    This PhD project consists of (1) an empirical thesis and (2) a portfolio of compositions with commentary. 1.) The thesis explores the effect of habitually playing from music notation on classical musicians’ ability to play by ear and produce the jazz phrasing structure known as “swing”. Swing and its relationship to groove are explored from musicological and psychological perspectives, focussing especially on its conflicting relationship with notation when performed by classical musicians. Two behavioural studies explore interactions between classical musicians’ notation reading, aural discrimination skills, and their swing performance. One of these also allows for formulating a syntax definition of swing, which so far is lacking in the literature. The first study investigates levels of score-dependency, i.e. dependency on notational over aural learning, in classical musicians. Results of several aural reproduction tasks show that score-dependent musicians are more limited in aural reproduction of pitch than score-independent musicians, though no difference between groups is found for rhythmic reproduction. Score-dependency is found to be a likely consequence of long-term task specialisation that can be mitigated by engaging in practices involving playing by ear. The second study focuses on how classical musicians produce swing while playing from notation, as evaluated by jazz-enculturated listeners. In line with the first study, results suggest that performers’ score-dependency has little bearing on their perceived swing rhythm. Instead it modulates the relationship between notational style and swing, with score-dependent musicians swinging more using classical and jazz notation formats. Unlike in jazz practice, listening to jazz recordings did not improve classical musicians’ swing. Jazz listeners’ detailed critiques of classical musicians’ swing provided details for formulating a syntax definition of swing: Swing is a particular cultural expression of groove, characterised by both synchronization and de-synchronization from a near- metronomic beat sequence, an unequal beat subdivision, rhythmic displacement, offbeat articulation, and a preference for faster tempi. The results presented in this thesis have wider implications for research on behavioural and microrhythmic issues in swing and groove production, cognition in aural vs. notation-based music learning, and effects of musical experiences on performance practice. 2.) The portfolio of compositions demonstrates the practical application of swing and groove rhythms in notation for artistic purposes. Over the course of four pieces, it explores how such rhythms can be negotiated in a variety of contexts, including semi-improvised vs. fully scripted performances, classical vs. crossover orchestrations, and metric ambiguities vs. steady rhythmic frameworks. Together, the portfolio and thesis contribute to both creative and empirical research on intercultural composition and associated notation practices.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Abstractions from Spectral Sonorities
    Brennan, Patrick
    In this analytical commentary and the accompanying portfolio of compositions, I deal primarily with issues relating to Spectral and Post- Spectral techniques in contemporary music. Potential limitations of Spectralism (as a genre) are taken into consideration, and several philosophical underpinnings of this compositional style are called into question as I consider the possibility of a music which is enhanced, but not constricted, by its technical innovations. Specifically, I examine various ways by which resonant harmonic colours of the natural overtone series might be abstracted from their Natural context(s), categorised, studied, understood, and finally deployed within a harmonic language which is to some extent musically functional rather than merely sonically colourful. The seven compositions included in the portfolio approach the problem from a variety of methodological angles: 
 —Pitch structures, isolated from the world of acoustic phenomena, are studied and manipulated to create colourful musical objects with an inherent inner logic. —In some instances Spectral concepts and techniques are integrated (or juxtaposed) with principles borrowed or adapted from tonal, post- tonal and serialist approaches to composition. —Occasionally non-Spectral music is analysed from a Spectral perspective and repurposed within a hybridised harmonic language. The commentary also records my artistic and technical development as a composer during my time at Cambridge. It charts my progress towards the attainment of a harmonic/musical grammar unique to myself, and the pursuit of a technical facility appropriate to this ambition.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Purely Sonorous: The Rhetoric of Sound in Twentieth-Century Music
    (2020-08-25) Dickson, Ian
    This thesis investigates a common aesthetic-hermeneutic tendency in discussions of twentieth-century and contemporary music: that of legitimating particular repertoires as exceptionally sound-oriented or sound-based—in contrast with other, usually older music, which is figured as subordinating sound to musical language. In this thesis, I call this tendency ‘sonicism’. I analyse the rhetoric of sonicism on the level both of discourse and of compositional technique. The analysis is comparative: modernist concert music, electroacoustic/electronic music, and sound art are considered. These repertoires, although apparently disparate in their aesthetic and technical premises, imply a common conceptual and metaphorical framework, based on the distinction between ‘sound material’ and its ‘organisation’—hence the rhetorical strategy of hypostatising sound to characterise an advocated approach, while abstracting quasi-linguistic entities and relationships from sound to characterise other music. I argue that beliefs regarding the priority of sound in a given repertoire are determined above all by assumptions about musical organisation. Moreover, in realising their sonic ideals, composers tend to adopt organisational signifiers that are also common to apparently disparate positions. These signifiers negate aspects of traditional musical grammar but tend gradually to be conventionalised in their turn. These core arguments are presented in Chapter 1 and developed through the rest of the thesis. Chapters 2 and 3 are case studies focusing on the discourse, techniques, and reception of two composers associated with particular archetypes: that of the mutual independence of ‘sounds themselves’ (the early Morton Feldman), and that of the journey inside a three-dimensional sound (Giacinto Scelsi). The analysis then turns to electronic music and sound art, highlighting the continuity of both discourse and organisational signifiers. The thesis concludes with a discussion of the present-day situation, in which the emancipation of sound is regarded as a fait accompli, but the standardisation of signifiers is still not widely acknowledged.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Vocal-Affective Weaning and its role in musical enculturation: children’s interest in music beyond the Infant-Directed Register
    (2020-11-28) Robledo Del Canto, Juan Pablo
    Well-established theoretical approaches to the Infant-directed Register (IDReg) draw a more or less tacit causal relation between it and all future musical engagement: the former establishes a basis for the latter. However, a mechanistic, observable chain of events linking these two phenomena has only been assumed, remaining for the most part unproblematized and undescribed. This thesis represents a first systematic attempt to fill this theoretical and empirical gap by concretely linking early musicality and the first manifestations of the most characteristic and widespread Western form of musical engagement: listening to recorded music. It does so by introducing a new construct as a mediating motivational factor— Vocal- Affective Weaning (VAW) —which mainly concerns the variation of caregivers’ use of the IDReg across developmental time. The thesis is grounded and tested in three literature reviews, two theoretical chapters, and three empirical ones. In terms of main findings, little evidence is found to support the existence of VAW as depicted in the main thesis. Consequently, any direct relationship between VAW and toddlers' attention to recorded music seems doubtful. Instead, data evidences a progressive use of Infant-Directed Speech (IDSp) as an ostensive cue used in the context of Natural Pedagogy, which allows for a better understanding of the relative importance of affectivity and cognition as parallel, coexisting governing principles that exert an influence on developmental changes concerning parental use of IDSp. If anything, data highlights interaction as a much more promising element in an explanatory chain linking the IDReg and Western forms of music engagement. The mentioned mismatch between the main thesis and results is interpreted in terms of the former’s unjustified stress on ‘centripetal’ over ‘centrifugal’ attachment dynamics. Resulting data also allows to delineate more nuanced factorial and developmental accounts of toddlers’ sustained attention to musical stimuli than has been previously advanced.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Comparative philology, French music, and the composition of Indo-Europeanism from Fétis to Messiaen.
    Asimov, Peter; Asimov, Peter [0000-0003-4746-4796]
    This thesis argues that the disciplines of comparative philology and linguistics exerted significant force on the priorities and techniques of musicologists and composers in fin-de-siècle France, and examines how ideologies of Indo-Europeanism (or aryanism), concomitant with comparative philology, generated efforts to ‘sound out’ Indo-Europeanism in music. Using a relational approach, dense interdisciplinary networks of philologists/linguists, musicologists, and composers are reconstructed to demonstrate how musicological appropriations of linguistic research reverberated in musical composition right through the 1950s. These contexts reveal how wide-ranging repertories emerged from ethnic-nationalist projects of reclaiming Indo-European ‘patrimony’. The thesis is in two Parts. Part I, ‘Philologie comparée, musicologie, and Indo-European hypotheses’, is organised around four overlapping intellectual networks comprising comparative philologists and musicologists. Francophone musicologists’ efforts to model their discipline on that of comparative philology are surveyed. Scholars discussed include Fétis, Gevaert, Bourgault-Ducoudray, Burnouf, Meillet, Aubry, Emmanuel, and Grosset. Arguments concerning the place of music between concepts of ‘language’ and ‘race’ are retraced, with special attention paid to musicologists’ efforts to pinpoint quasi-morphological ‘Indo-European’ musical structures – in particular, ‘modes’ and ‘metres’ – construed as ‘essential’ and ‘ancestral’. Part II, ‘Composing with philology: performances of authenticity and innovation’, describes how the intellectual project elaborated in Part I infiltrated compositional practices. Close musical and paratextual readings show how composers legitimated experimentalism through ‘performances’ of philological ‘authenticity’. Over time, musical parameters such as modes and metres are abstracted and assimilated into compositional lexicons. Composers discussed include Bourgault-Ducoudray, Saint-Saëns, Séverac, Roussel, and Emmanuel. This root system flourishes in the music of Olivier Messiaen, whose rhythmic technique is revisited in light of manuscript materials. From his borrowings of early Indian metres (deśītālas) through his hyperformalist ‘Mode de valeurs et d’intensités’, Messiaen’s rhythmic style is radically reinterpreted as a logical extension of francophone musicology’s disciplinary and epistemological inheritance from comparative philology.