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Through an examination of Katherine Hoover’s Medieval Suite for Flute and Piano, I show how Hoover portrays the characteristics and experiences of Princess Isabelle of France. Hoover got her inspiration for this piece from Barbara Tuchman’s book A Distant Mirror, about fourteenth century France. Princess Isabelle was betrothed to Edward II of England at the age of six and married to him at the age of twelve. She suffered through an unhappy marriage with a bisexual husband who overlooked and ignored her. By performing the fourth movement of Hoover’s Medieval Suite: On the Betrothal of Princess Isabelle of France, Aged Six Years I show how the movement captures the innocence and sadness of a young girl whose childhood was taken from her much too soon.
In this presentation I address problems that arise in the composition of music for film. My work on the 4-minute short film Shoo provides a basis for analysis of the processes and techniques that can be used when writing soundtracks. Shoo, as a silent film, relates to its soundtrack in an inherently different way than a film with dialogue would. The music becomes the auditory focal point. Because of this, the music must be given partial responsibility for story-telling. The first problem I encountered in this endeavor was the need to create a thematic relationship between the music and the film. Second, there were aesthetic considerations regarding atmosphere, mood, and intended emotional effect. Last, there were the technical puzzles, such as pinpointing the timings of scenes and events, which are typical of soundtrack writing. In the presentation I show “before and after” versions of Shoo to demonstrate how my solutions to problems associated with writing music for film worked within a specific final product.
In the 16th Century, artists including Michelangelo, da Vinci, and Raphael had a new-found interest in geometry and mathematics. Their works are characterized by ideal proportion, symmetry, and balance. In this presentation, I demonstrate that these essential components of Renaissance art aesthetics may also be found in the contemporary architecture and music. Josquin des Prez is recognized as the most accomplished composer of the High Renaissance. His Missa de Beata Virgine exemplifies the Franco-Flemish Renaissance style of structural sophistication, including symmetry and ornamentation. Likewise, the design and structures of the Chateau of Chambord in central France, constructed 1519-1550, correspond remarkably to this early 16th Century mass. Josquin employs the compositional technique of imitation in the Kyrie movement, which results in a homogonous sound where no voice has authority over another. I suggest that this aural unity and structural symmetry correlate to the balanced proportions found in the architecture of Chambord. Another connection is between the use of canon in the Gloria movement and the double-helix staircase at the center of the chateau. Similarly, both have elements of elegant ornamentation. This comparison demonstrates that symmetry and ornamentation are the defining characteristics of 16th Century European visual art, music and architecture.
In my presentation I refute and invalidate that “jazz is dead,” a belief that is still pervasive today, although its legitimacy has diminished greatly in the last decade. In many ways paralleling the history of classical music in America, the incorporation of jazz into academia has directly contributed to its stagnation artistically and culturally. Music educators have taught jazz in a timeline that begins in the early 20th century and ends in the free jazz explorations of the 1960s. While teaching in this manner ensured for a time the persistence of tradition, the recent globalization of the world’s musics has contributed to a complete revamping of the very definition of jazz. Using recent compositions that draw on the influences of other cultures (such as the Jewish inspired compositions of John Zorn, or the Indian-Jazz fusion of Vijay Iyer’s tabla, guitar, and piano trio), and with the support of scholarly research, I demonstrate that since 1960s jazz has evolved into a new form. I explain why I believe that continuing to ignore this new music in an academic setting is lethally harmful to the music and its cultural appeal in America.
Performance anxiety is cited as the number one fear of people in America, according to Sharon Stoher, author of The Singer’s Companion. In Dale Reubart’s Anxiety and Musical Performance, he describes the affliction as “apprehension cued off by a threat to some value that the individual holds essential to his existence as a personality.” Nerves tend to cripple even the best musicians from sharing their passion and fullest potential with the audience. Three renowned approaches of handling performance anxiety were formulated by experts Barry Green with Timothy Gallwey, Frederick Alexander, and Don Greene. Each of their respective methods defines a source of interference, and then prescribes a collection of mindsets, skills and exercises for tackling the monster. I give brief overviews of the methods outlined by Barry Green and Timothy Gallwey’s The Inner Game; various individuals certified in the Alexander technique; and Don Greene’s Fight Your Fear and Win. I introduce a few select exercises prescribed by each method to develop a specific skill like awareness, trust, inhibition, or focus. While this material is applicable to various disciplines, I present the information in the context of preparing for a musical performance.
In the 1960s, imminent French philosopher Jacques Derrida (1930 -2004) framed the concept of deconstruction to describe the state of difference (the rift between intent and meaning) in a literary text. This presentation applies Derrida’s ideas on deconstruction to music. According to Derrida, a text has no inherent meaning but is dependent on a larger structure making meaning possible. Thus, meaning exists in a system outside the author’s intent. Likewise, music has no intrinsic properties. Music is based on a system of relationships between inside formal aspects and outside socially sedimented material. To perceive a sound, one must first have a conceptual framework for distinguishing it. Deconstruction shows how this relationship is governed by a system of arbitrary difference. Although Derrida avoids talking about music, he claims every text holds its own destruction. I explore the a priori presence of difference in musical texts. I offer a deconstructive reading of modern music, focusing on compositions of Pierre Boulez, John Cage and Wolfgang Rihm. Finally, I explain consequences of deconstruction for modern musicology.
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