Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)




This monograph includes a brief history of the development of the song cycle genre in general, Ned Rorem's definition of the genre in particular, and a brief history of Ned Rorem's contributions to song cycles. Each of Ned Rorem's published song cycles has been inspected for the following: poet(s) and literary theme(s); excerptability of individual songs; difficulty of individual songs (rated easy, moderately easy, or difficult); accompanimental instrument(s); and apparent cyclic interval(s), motive(s), or melody(ies). These data are compiled in a concise form for each song cycle and is followed by explanations of the determination of excerptability and difficulty, and the composer's comments on each cycle taken from the composer's notes which precede some of the cycles and/or a personal interview with the composer. The survey yielded the following information about the song cycles. Seventeen use a single poet or author, and eight use a variety of poets. Eleven have a consistent poetic theme, three create a narrative, and eleven have unrelated themes. Sixteen are accompanied by piano, four are accompanied by a small group of instruments (four or less instruments), four are accompanied by orchestra, and one is unaccompanied. Twenty-one contain excerptable songs (with forty-eight excerptable songs rated easy, sixty-seven excerptable songs rated moderately difficult, and forty-two excerptable rated difficult), and four contain unexcerptable songs. Twenty-one contain no apparent cyclic melody of melodic motive, and four contain a cyclic melody or motive. All of the cycles contain songs of varying difficulty, and all meet most definitions of song cycle. The typical song cycle composed by Ned Rorem has a single poet or author, has a consistent poetic theme, is accompanied by piano alone, contains individual songs which are excerptable and which vary in difficulty, contains no apparent cyclic melody or motive, and meets the requirements for most definitions of song cycle.