Type of Document Thesis Author Hutchings, Sarah D URN etd-12222009-122840 Title Songs of Mortality I-III Degree Master of Music Department Music, College of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Ladislav Kubik Committee Chair Clifton Callender Committee Member James Mathes Committee Member Keywords
- Edgar Alan Poe
- Song Cycle
- Vocal Music
Date of Defense 2009-11-04 Availability unrestricted AbstractSongs of Mortality (2008-2009) is a song cycle composed using the poetry of American poet, Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849).
Evening Star is a work a mood apart from the rest of Poe’s poetry. The harmonies of this piece are meant to evoke hope and longing. Evening Star captures the poet’s sense of wishing for something more in life, and his fascination with the night-time sky. Spirits of the Dead is a dark work describing the torment of dead souls and of what Poe perceives to be their predestined end. Wispy melodies embody the transcendent nature of the spirits, and extended techniques in the quartet suggest a sense of disquiet and mutability.
Valley of Unrest recalls the losses of wars past and how the poet perceives the valley where many have perished.
Evening Star: The same teneramente con espressione markings appear in this piece, as they did in Spirits. This should be considered as a "warming" of the sound for the instrument indicated. Tenuto markings should be followed for emphasis and ferme (measure 7 of the voice) markings should be considered as an emphasis on the musical phrase as a whole. Liberamente markings are tempo rubato within the measure.
Spirits of the Dead: In the introduction, strings should embody the essence of restless spirits as they execute their extended techniques. With the sul tasto markings, the sound should be as "dry" as possible, thus no vibrato should be used (for a renaissance effect). When the expression, teneramente con espressione appears, the intent is to create a beautiful "warming" of the sound in the ensemble for a slight mood change from the dry effects of before. If a line between notes appears, for example, in measure 14 for Violin I, Violin II, and Viola, it is meant to be a portamento. This effect occurs several times throughout the piece and will be further recognized by the presence of a slur marking. Liberamente markings are tempo rubato markings within the measure. Tempo markings are meant to be a guide to gauge about how fast one should proceed with the next passage.
Valley of Unrest: There should be a feel of melancholy and reflection to this piece. Phrasing is very important for all instruments. The violin has a few "solo" passages where a common motive returns. The solo violin double stops should be played dryly, with a fiddle idiom in mind. For the voice, slur markings are not an indication of where to breathe, but rather a direction of how to shape the phrase. Slurs detail vocal interpretation within a phrase and also indicate legati as an opposition to "dry" performance with an emphasis on diction. Phrases with a slur marking should be sung legato and more towards the vowel rather than with precise consonants.
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