College of Visual and Performing Arts

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This collection contains ETD documents from the College of Visual and Performing Arts.


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    Flash to Eternity
    Walton, Michael; Kardambikis, Christopher
    Flash to Eternity is the title of Michael Walton’s MFA thesis exhibition that was on display in the Gillespie Gallery at George Mason University on November 7, 2022, through November 18, 2022. The exhibition was an exploration into time, an opportunity to investigate the truth of time through mutual and individual experiences. The objects in the exhibition presented the artist’s perspectives regarding the realities and theories of time and their balance between the paradigms of space-time and eternity. The exhibit’s intention was to generate questions in the mind of the viewer: Is time real or an illusion, is there an absolute time or is it relative, and is time dynamic or static? These questions were shaped as a literal journey within the exhibition, allowing the viewer to walk through time constructs in community with others in the gallery, building individual and shared perspectives through experience and trust.
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    Ohashi, Jacquelyn Aiko; Winant, Peter
    My thesis work focuses on gender identity, religion, and speculative design. The thesis exhibition and body of work is simply named REFLECTION for its quality to reflect the identity of myself and the identities of others. This work began four years ago when investigating topics that many viewers harbor misconceptions about: religious faith, transgender, and in the unexpected places where they meet. In response, I have designed and built hypothetical religious objects that both describe and offer solutions to the various questions and struggles I face as a trans man, Lutheran, and human being. The work I created examines the possibilities of being transgender in a profound and endearing way.
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    Cyclic and Repetition-Based Structures as Narrative Tools in Golijov’s Ainadamar
    (2022) Chavez, David; Guessford, Jesse
    Osvaldo Golijov’s music borrows musical styles from a wide variety of different cultures to create a distinctive brand of 21st-century storytelling. Ainadamar, his first opera, presents images of the life and death of iconic Spanish poet Federico García Lorca and actress Margarita Xirgu from a libretto by David Henry Hwang in a Spanish translation by Golijov. This paper analyzes Golijov’s use of cyclic and repetitive musical forms as a primary storytelling device both within individual movements and over the course of the whole opera.
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    The Sound of Metal: Timbral Characteristics of Crash Cymbals, Triangles, and Tambourines
    (2022) Barranco, Michael; Lavengood, Megan
    Analysis and description of the timbral characteristics of percussion instruments has been verbally transmitted from teacher to student for generations. Percussion educators use this vocabulary to indicate their desired sound, which determines the instrument selection of their students and peers in solo, chamber, and ensemble settings. Unfortunately, this vocabulary often fails to coherently translate to young percussion students as well as composers and educators with no prior percussion training. This dissertation will explore the timbral possibilities of three unpitched metallic instruments that frequently appear in the percussion repertoire: tambourines, triangles, and crash cymbals.The analysis synchronizes three forms of methodologies: spectrogram analysis, binary oppositions, and timbral semantics. The methodology is then applied to musical examples, which I term guided orchestration and open orchestration. Here, we will be able to select the instruments that are the most timbrally appropriate for each individual musical settings such as large ensemble, chamber, and solo works, thus forming timbral continuity in the formation of auditory streams in orchestral layers. We will then be able to conceptualize the terms utilized in the percussion community to describe the available sounds on these instruments.
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    A Complementary Pair: Analyzing the Inclusion of Drum Set and Multiple Percussion Within University Percussion Curricula
    (2022) Morris, Colton; Purcell, Darden
    While universities may include both drum set and multiple percussion setups as part of a student’s private instruction, it is sometimes challenging to develop curricula that address both areas as equal in a complete education. As well, there is an implied divide between both sides of percussion: wherever emphasis is placed according to the professor’s philosophy, the student is more likely to specialize in that field over the other choice. Yet, as more job positions exist that demand equal skills in both areas, one may consider a curriculum that prepares a student as well-rounded in both and does not leave one side of percussion totally abandoned. The purpose of this dissertation is to address the divide and seek practical solutions to bring together these areas of percussion: namely, classical multiple percussion and drum set and its affiliated styles, often in university percussion studies. Addressing critical pedagogy of both sides separately will lead to a current assessment of this integration in select public 4-year colleges and universities, and personal interviews with professors of percussion may lend useful thought for implementing these methods for their students.
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    The Development of the Piano Intermezzo from the Nineteenth to Twenty-First Centuries
    (2022) Richardson, Michelle Eve; Green, Emily
    The piano intermezzos of Brahms are well known in piano repertoire; frequently taught, performed, and analyzed. Despite interest in these works, the reasons the title intermezzo would have appealed to Brahms as the name for the majority of his late piano character pieces remains obscure. This dissertation explores the use of the title intermezzo in piano repertoire from the nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries, with the goals of defining the genre and tracing the use of these pieces throughout history. An introductory section provides the background of the word intermezzo and relevant literature. The first chapter explores the use of piano intermezzos during the nineteenth century, to show that Brahms was not original in his choice of title, as the term was flexibly used by many composers during this century. Schumann was perhaps the first piano composer to use this title in piano music, and subsequently many other composers used intermezzos as a substitute for scherzo movements, inner movements of piano sets, or entire piano cycles. The second chapter analyzes how intermezzos were adapted into twentieth century classical and entertainment music, using a wider geographical sphere of composers. The third chapter explores twentieth to twenty-first century intermezzos, many of which are uniquely original works and quite progressive. Some intermezzos fall within the style periods in this century, being influenced by neoclassicism, serialism, and neoromanticism; others stand out as being specifically influenced by Brahms and his intermezzos. The collection and analysis of these works provides the first comprehensive survey of intermezzos as a genre in piano music, to clarify the origins and development of these works from the nineteenth century to today.
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    Overlooked: The Perception of Marching Band on Developing Effective Teacher Characteristics
    (2022) Fabian, Sarah Ashley; Nickens, Michael
    The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of music educators’ perceptions of ways in which marching band and college music education curricula connect. By examining the music educators’ perceptions, the study hoped to influence existing collegiate music education programs by providing possible avenues of interdisciplinary development through cross-training experiences of marching band and marching band methods. The guiding research questions for this study were: 1) What are the perceptions of music educators regarding connection between music education curriculum and marching band? 2) Do music educators feel marching band impacted their music teaching careers? 3) What experiences in marching band, if any, do music educators feel helped prepare them to become music educators? This study was designed to survey music educators in private and public institutions within the United States.
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    Scott Wheeler's Piano Works: Musical Portraits and Tributes
    (2022) Trinh An, Linh Thuy; Owens, Tom C.
    The purpose of this study is to understand the piano works by American composer ScottWheeler, a student of Virgil Thomson (1896-1989) who claimed to be the first musician in the world to have composed musical portraits following the procedure of depicting sitters by a method he called “disciplined spontaneity.” Actively working as a conductor and composer, Wheeler is best known for his vocal works; however, he also wrote more than forty pieces for piano, categorized as musical portraits and tributes. By looking at Wheeler’s entire body of piano compositions, this study identifies the compositional techniques that characterize Scott Wheeler’s musical portraits and tributes. By providing a deep analysis of ten compositions in both categories, this dissertation provides a closer look at the most common characteristics within these pieces. The study begins with a brief introduction of Scott Wheeler, a musician/composerbased in New York, and includes a list of contributions he has made over the years to the American classical music community. Chapter One also provides a brief overview of musical portraiture throughout the history of art music as well as an understanding of how the genre was created and evolved through time in various composers’ works, especially Virgil Thomson’s. Chapter Two gives an overview of Wheeler’s piano music focusing on four features: formal structure, tonality and diatonicism, texture, and rhythm. Chapter Three analyzes ten pieces in both categories to show how the discussed elements in Chapter Two work together. The last chapter provides a chronological list of all works for piano by Wheeler in the form of a thematic catalog, with selective information on their subjects and dedicatees.
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    The Treatment of Japanese Traditional Music in the Choral Works of Ko Matsushita
    (2022) Stenson, Bryan Hiroto; Billingham, Lisa
    Ko Matsushita (b. 1962) is one of the most prominent figures in current Japanese choral music. With musical training both in Japan and in Hungary, he is known for his ability to write in multiple styles and genres. Some of his Latin sacred works such as Jubilate Deo and O Lux Beata Trinitas have become popular in international choral competitions which has fostered his popularity abroad; what remains relatively underperformed in Western ensembles, however, are his compositions based on minyō, traditional folk music of Japan. The purpose of this study is to understand how Matsushita balances his own compositional style with Japanese folk elements within his choral works based on minyō through the study of five pieces based in Japanese folk traditions: “Aizu Bandaisan,” “Itsuki no Komori Uta,” “Tsugaru Jongara-bushi”, “Kotoba-asobi Uta,” and “Yukamuli Uta.” Each work is first contextualized with relevant background information that will pertain to points made in the analysis. Then, I analyze the pieces to determine what compositional techniques are being used and how they correspond with factors such as regional dialects, traditional scales, imitations of instruments or settings, and folk song type. Finally, I provide conducting and rehearsal considerations to encourage the programming of these pieces for Western choral ensembles.
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    The Gray Market: Over-manufacturing, Art and the Rural/Urban Divide
    Nolan, Matt; Nolan, Matt; White, Gail Scott
    This is the written component for The Gray Market, a Master of Fine Arts in Visual Art thesis exhibition and project. It provides a detailed description of the concept and body of work in the exhibition. The writing connects the work and artist to historical theories, artists, art movements and forms. Additionally, the paper reflects on the experience as a whole and poses new questions that have arisen in the process.
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    Common Devotion
    Dravenstadt, Danielle Wayne; Dravenstadt, Danielle Wayne; Elahi, Hasan
    My work investigates the role of care in society. I define care as a serious and tender attention to someone or something. Fastening the button on the back of my daughter’s dress without tangling it with her delicate strands of hair is an example of my own maternal caring. I want to make care visible, mentionable, and call into question the impact of the presence or absence of care. My work oscillates between tenderness and its opposite, documenting an unpredictable time. This survey of artwork created between 2019 – 2022 embodies my inquiry on care: swaddling gestures that reminded me of my now five-year-old daughter’s infancy, solitary contemplations of life and fear, paintings that capture fleeting moments, and a photobook created with my eight-month-old son by my side. These works culminate to tell a story of my own experience of motherhood while remaining permeable to interpretation, inviting you to consider the role of care in your life.
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    Through Line
    Hentges, Kerry; Hentges, Kerry; Winant, Peter
    This thesis explores the graduate exhibition, Through Line, from Fall 2021 by Kerry Hentges. The exhibition focuses on anxiety and how to relieve it through art-making. Both prints and fabric tapestries are showcased. The title of the exhibit, Through Line, references both the literal lines used to create the works of art and the figurative line that connects us all as human beings. The exhibit was displayed at George Mason University in November 2021 at the Gillespie Gallery.
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    Floyd E. Werle’s First Two Trumpet Concerti for Doc Severinsen: A Trumpeter’s Preparation and Performance Guide
    (2021) Christensen, Curt Charles; Christensen, Curt Charles; Owens, Tom C
    Chief Master Sgt. Floyd Edwards Werle was the head of the composing and arranging staff of The United States Air Force Band for thirty-two years. His lifetime output included 513 arrangements, 23 transcriptions, and more than 166 church hymns—in addition to his 280 original compositions. , Of these original compositions there are four trumpet concerti written for solo trumpet and large wind ensemble: Concerto for Trumpet, Winds & Percussion, Second Concerto for Trumpet, Concerto No. 3 for Trumpet and Band, and Concerto No. 4 for Trumpet and Band. The focus of this study is on the Concerto for Trumpet, Winds & Percussion composed in 1965 and Second Concerto for Trumpet composed in 1968. Many trumpeters are not aware of the first two trumpet concerti composed by Werle. This study heightens the trumpeter’s awareness of, inspires and promotes performance of these concerti. This is accomplished through the history of conception, analysis of harmonic and melodic languages, form, as well as how the economic creation of initial thematic material develops into the thematic and rhythmic basis of an entire concerto. Additionally, the trumpeter gains knowledge through a comprehensive, experience-based, preparation and performance guide. In addition to the lack of awareness, trumpeters may attach a stigma of difficulty to these concerti because they were composed for and dedicated to Carl Hilding “Doc” Severinsen. Analysis and subsequent performance of the concerti reveals that in fact, they are accessible to trumpeters possessing the skills required for gainful employment in the twenty-first century.
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    Parallax Real
    Fedorova, Samantha; Fedorova, Samantha; Karametou, Maria
    This thesis describes parallels between the realm of internet, specifically virtual reality and the subconscious domain of dreams. The observation of how slowly and steadily humans become digitalized and migrated into the cyber world. As demonstrated by the artist’s cyber extension “Goatface,” who serves as a host to this unfamiliar territory and guides the reader through some uncanny truths and revelations. Parallax Real is a shift in reality, a dramatic one, which all of us experienced in the last two years. A melancholic speculation of things to come, a grim fairy tale as told by Goatface.
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    Reframing Shakespeare as an Evolving Model of Inclusive Ensemble Theater
    Kfoury Horner, Nicholas M; Kfoury Horner, Nicholas M; Davis, Richard
    This thesis investigates and articulates the process of directing a Shakespeare performance to create inclusive, ensemble storytelling. Interpretation and production of a play for public viewing was an integral part of this work which represents the culmination of ongoing study in the areas of performativity, race and gender theory, somatic release, body-conscious casting, and observations about connections between performance and neuroscience as manifest in actors in rehearsal and performance. This thesis may also serve as resource for directors engaging in training in group dynamics, body politics, devised choreographic work, and experimentation with parallel structures of storytelling at play in a single narrative.
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    Creating Pause: Reset - Fostering Connection Through Dance
    D'Arcy, Shaun B; D'Arcy, Shaun B; Joyce, Dan
    The thesis project, Pause: Reset, was an outdoor dance event that took place at the A. Linwood Holton, Jr. Plaza at George Mason University’s Fairfax campus on April 22, 2021. The 25-minute work was the culmination of research on the topic of social connection and its impact on health and well-being. Developed during the global pandemic Covid-19 in collaboration with the cast of eight George Mason University School of Dance majors, Pause: Reset arose in response to the unprecedented events of 2020. Though the study’s principle focus was navigating a community centered choreographic process during Covid-19, other factors that influenced the work included the United States presidential election, national efforts to dismantle racism and more, as well as the personal experiences of the cast and choreographer. The project involved several months of ongoing dialogue and movement research leading to a site-specific work aimed at portraying the resilient nature of the human spirit and the power of connection in times of collective uncertainty and challenge.
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    A Study on the Solo Piano Pieces of Jiesun Lim: Spiritual Dance (2004), Ice Flower (2006), A Poem about Spring (2008), And Fantasia on a Theme of Chopin (2009)
    (2021) Yerin Choi
    Jiesun Lim is a composer who is considered to be one of the most prominent contemporary musicians in Korea. This dissertation investigates the stylistic features of Lim’s four solo piano works: Spiritual Dance, Ice Flower, A Poem about Spring, and Fantasia on a Theme of Chopin. To provide context and aid understanding of the characteristics of the composer, this dissertation provides some background on Korean musical contemporary music and discusses overall characteristics of Jiesun Lim’s major works. This will be followed by a detailed analysis of the four solo piano works. The analysis concentrates on the examination of forms, harmonies, melodies, rhythms, and keyboard usages in each of Lim’s solo piano works. By undertaking an overview of Jiesun Lim’s piano work and an in-depth analysis of her solo music, I wanted to improve my overall understanding of the composer and her musical world. In addition, I hope that follow-up research on Lim and her music will continue actively in the future, and that her works will have the opportunity to reach more performers and a wider audience.
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    Utilizing Japanese Concepts of 間(Ma) in Japanese Percussion Repertoire
    (2021) Kanako Chikami
    This study aims to fill a gap in percussion literature by analyzing the history and usage of the Japanese concept 間(ma). Ma is a difficult concept to put into words, especially if one did not grow up in Japanese culture: no exact English translations exist. Essentially, it is a concept of silence and intervals in the traditional Japanese art forms and music, but the actual usage depends on context, given its rich and complex history. The purpose of my dissertation, however, will be ma’s application in music. For this setting, ma has spiritual and philosophical meanings as well as utility in performance practice. The type of music central to my study is Japanese percussion repertoire. Although this genre is popular within American percussion performance and pedagogy, one does not likely know what ma is nor how to incorporate it: scarce information is available for it. Coupled with the idea of ma as critical in the Japanese composers’ intent, this creates a problem for Western educators and performers and requires a true understanding of the concept. This study seeks to clarify the overall meaning of ma and present examples in the work of contemporary Japanese composers, including Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996) and Keiko Abe (b.1937)—the latter with whom I conducted an in-person interview. Ultimately, I hope to construct a better understanding of ma and its application within the context of Japanese percussion repertoire.
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    An Integration of Chinese Compositional Techniques with Western Musical Elements: A Stylistic Analysis of Huang An-Lun’s Selected Works
    (2021) Minne Zhang
    During the 1980s, a group of young Chinese composers went abroad to study music after the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). Their music was highly influenced by both traditional Chinese music as well as Western musical elements. Huang An-Lun (b. 1949-) is one of them. The purpose of this dissertation is to demonstrate how Huang An-Lun, a leading Chinese-born Canadian composer, fuses Chinese traditional musical and theoretical ideas with Western music elements by analyzing his selected pieces. In Chapter One, firstly, I briefly introduce the historical background with a literature review, and then an overview of Huang’s life that includes family influences, social influences, and music education in China Canada and the United States. Chapter Two offers a brief introduction of Chinese music theories to help readers understanding the following analytical parts better. Chapter Three illustrates Huang’s musical style and compositional philosophy in general with its focus on the style of his piano works. In Chapter Four and Five, based on the analysis of four pieces composed by Huang An-Lun in sequence, I focus on illustrating and identifying the Western and Chinese musical elements in his works, such as the use of Chinese modality and Western tonality, the use of functional Western harmony and pentatonic harmony, the influence of Chinese folk songs and traditional instruments, and the use of modern compositional techniques.
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    Selected Atabaques Rum-Drum Solos in Candomblé Ketu Music: Adaptations for Jazz Percussion Vocabulary
    (2021) Juan Megna
    This research is focused on adaptations between Afro-Brazilian atabaque percussion, language performed in Candomblé music, and the drum set commonly used in Jazz styles. Candomblé is an Afro-diasporic religion developed in Brazil by African communities. In their ceremonies, the deities known as Orixás are worshiped. The Orixás are archetypes that represent natural elements, as well as certain aspects of society and individual life. Its ceremonies influenced contemporary Brazilian popular music, which in turn, influenced Brazilian-Jazz styles like Samba-Jazz and Bossa Nova, genres present in the Jazz repertoire. The atabaque drums played in Candomblé rituals provide musical support to these ceremonies. The rum drum, the leading drum in the liturgical context of the Candomblé Ketu ceremonies, is used as a primary source to build drum-set solos. The drum set solos are based on transcriptions taken from the rum drum solos performed by Italossy Alexandro and Alisson de Souza, both atabaque performers from the Brazilian Candomblé community “Ilê Àse Oyá Orìrí''. In addition, this research points out musical challenges, embodied in a series of exercises focused on percussion timbres and limb coordination. This dissertation is centered on specific Candomblé percussion repertoire, limiting the research on specific “toques”. The “toque” means a specific structure composed of different rhythm layers where the rum drum, the lowest drum, improvises over fixed patterns. The fixed patterns are played by the rumpí drum, the medium pitched drum, and the lé drum, the highest pitched drum. The gā, an ago-go bell, plays the foundational rhythmic cells known as timelines or claves. The timelines constitute the basic rhythmic structures of Afro-diasporic ensembles, including the Candomblé percussion ensemble. The toques studied in this dissertation are hamunha, lagunló, agueré, daró, and ijexá. Keywords: Candomblé, Ketu, Drum Set, Jazz Drums, Atabaques, Rum, Rumpí, Lé.