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Title: Portfolio of Compositions with Commentary
Author: McCabe, Stephen Robert
ISNI:       0000 0001 3622 6587
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2007
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The following paper is a review of compositions written during the period 2000 to 2007. In presenting the work, I have looked at the way that my music is influenced by outside material, some of the significant features of each piece as well as some technical details I consider relevant. To begin with, it might be useful to mention some ofthe composers that attracted 'me to contemporary music. I am particularly drawn to the compositions of BirtwistIe, Carter, Zappa, Boulez and Nunes as well as Stravinsky, Varese, Webern and Barraque. All of these composers demonstrated or demonstrate a powerful and highly evolved personal musical aesthetic. I believe they arrived at their objective aesthetic only after a long period of intense refinement and subjectivity. It strikes me that for a composer to keep writing music they must feel that they can still develop their technique or techniques. I want to continue to evolve as a composer; however, the scores do suggest a late 20th century modernist style with sonorities and structural procedures reminiscent ofBoulez and Birtwistle. 2. SONG SETTINGS Throughout this period, I used text as something to begin a compositional process. It therefore seems appropriate to discuss the way text influences my aesthetic and provides a starting point for composition. Much of the music I have composed has poetry at its heart or it takes as its starting point a literary source. It seems to me, when setting words to music one must consider whether the musical context is an aid to understanding. Does it serve the text or lie in opposition, or does it lie along side it, as a commentary? It would seem integral that the music serves the text by displaying it at its best advantage. However, the text normally stands alone and does not actually require a musical setting at all. The poet's job is finished. In my view, poetry is essentially artificial, both in structure and in terms of the imagery used, and of cour~e when it comes to the composer's part the poet (unless living) is not usually consulted. I feel it is appropriate to treat the text in whatever way suits the composer's aspirations and do not necessarily feel that the music should 'serve' the words or that the context should necessarily use the structural elements of the text. Therefore, the music can be any of the above. Nevertheless, poems have form, it therefore seems reasonable to consider if or how much of that form is represented in the context. I have taken several approaches to this. For example, the 5-7-5-syllable form ofa haiku informs some ofthe parameters of the settings. However, in the Pessoa piece, the poems are fragmented to reflect the nature of their author, in effect the piece is more about the poet than the poems. In the Rilke, 1 decided that the music would provide scaffolding on which to hang the
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available