Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
The first part of this dissertation is a musical composition for orchestra entitled Symphony No. 1: On the Creation. Each movement depicts one of the first four days of Creation as it is recorded in Genesis 1 of the Bible. The music is programmatic throughout; melodies, textures, colorations, and even forms serve this purpose. The entities and creations involved in the story each appear with a specific motive, mode, and tonal area, similar to Wagner’s leitmotifs. The movements have various forms, which often derive from the literary form of the particular day’s creation account in Genesis. The second part of this dissertation is an exploration of chromaticism and harmony in Henry Purcell’s sacred music. Purcell composed during a stylistic period marked by a transition from modality to tonality. The Baroque period developed out of the style of the High Renaissance, which was typified by imitation, counterpoint, and strictly controlled dissonance. By its close, the tonal system, characterized generally by the necessary progression of dominant to tonic harmony, had reached ascendance. Purcell’s music often strikes listeners as highly imaginative and original; certain exceptional moments stand out because the sounds and techniques that Purcell uses break with standard Renaissance practice, and remain unusual in the context of subsequent stylistic periods. Chromaticism was a natural part of Purcell’s musical language, both at surface and background levels. He used many chromatic techniques, including chromatic motives, chromatic textures, and background chromatic lines to create more vivid expressions of textual ideas and themes, as well as to provide musical coherence across a work. Additionally, Purcell’s chromaticism creates many different unusual and striking harmonic effects, including false relation, unusual chord progression, modality, and harsh vertical dissonance. This document examines numerous remarkable moments that feature these and similar devices in several of Purcell’s sacred compositions.
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Carver, Joshua Adam, "Symphony No. 1: On the Creation and Chromaticism and Harmony in Henry Purcell's Sacred Music" (2014). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 2733.