Type of Document Dissertation Author Henning, Ian D. URN etd-04072007-153535 Title Diptych for Chamber Orchestra Degree Doctor of Musical Arts Department Music, College of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Ladislav Kubik Committee Chair Alexander Jiménez Committee Member Clifton Callender Committee Member Evan Jones Committee Member Keywords
Date of Defense 2007-03-28 Availability unrestricted AbstractDiptych for Chamber Orchestra was conceived as a two-part work. As an item, a diptych consists of two panels hinged together; in similar fashion, the movements of this work, though contrary in overall character, are related as part of that whole. Each needs the other to be complete, as the questioning, introspective opening movement requires the declamatory energy of the second for balance and vice versa, and the overall statement–development–restatement creates a formal parallel. Moreover, motivic treatment and orchestrational outlook came to reflect the diptych’s balance of codependence and independence.
My compositional approach was rooted in motivic reuse and development. Sometimes this manifested in transposed pitch collections, as in the ethereal four-bar string fragment in mm. 19-22 of the first movement (E-G-A-B-C#-D) and the bassoon/harp duet close on its heels (C-Eb-F-G-A-Bb). At the end of the movement that same string fragment – starting on A and with two semitone adjustments – forms the initial ascent in the harp of mm. 240. Other times a single horizontal line was restated in an alternate setting, such as the motive shared between the movements: F3-G3-A3-F4-E4. Serving as a hinge to my diptych, this was first set as a proud cello line in mm. 161-163 of the first movement opens, and later recast near the identical location in the second movement (mm. 162-163) as a mournful solo bassoon gesture. Established material provided a constant source of inspiration for me. Since my textures and harmonies were often in a state of change, I preferred to offset these fluctuating elements by maintaining unity within each movement’s motivic construction.
Orchestration and instrumentation were also dominant in my creation of related-yet-individual movements. In regard to instrumentation, my use of the designation “chamber orchestra” is intended to mean a minimum string choir of 6-6-5-4-2, pairs in all the winds without piccolo or tuba, three percussion, one harp, and one piano. The first word, “chamber,” is particularly relevant across the ensemble as I chose deliberately to write passages for conversational duos, trios, and quartets – particularly within like choirs – desiring at those times more of a chamber ensemble sound. Despite numerous full, climactic moments, it is the intimate, colorful writing that forms the backbone of both movements. My orchestrational hinge consisted of harp and piano. Situated on the score between the strings and the winds/percussion, and sharing their vibrating body with the former and method of attack with the latter, these two instruments play central roles in both movements (although I would say the parts are shy of concerto-level difficulty). At different turns, piano and harp supply motoric momentum, splashes of color at extreme registers, accompaniment in sparse texture, and romantically arching solo lines.
I have developed a fondness for writing one- and two-movement works in all settings, and this work provided a chance for me to explore methods of connectivity outside of literal reference. I submit it with the hope that these compositional relationships afford the work another level of aural logic, too.
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