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Title: Portfolio of compositions with accompanying written component
Author: Johnson, Louis James
ISNI:       0000 0004 2734 6925
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2011
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The main focus of my PhD submission is a portfolio of compositions. This selection of pieces presents work for a variety of ensemble types, from symphony orchestra, through different kinds of chamber groups, to compositions for solo instrumentalists. Although all of the pieces were written for some kind of concert setting, my portfolio includes music that was written to act as the basis of a film score, music that uses text specifically written for me to set as part of an operatic project and groups of pieces that share and represent parts of larger connected conceptual worlds. My music explores different approaches to form, content, compositional system, word-setting and instrumentation; however, there are musical and conceptual connections that run across and between pieces, some works realising shared fundamental material whilst others seek to develop in contrasting directions. The portfolio is accompanied by a written component that falls into two main parts. The first part investigates the relationship between narrative and music through a comparative analysis of aspects of narrative theory and music theory. The aim of this investigation was to ascertain whether or not music can be understood to function as narrative and whether such functioning could be described using terminology commonly applied to descriptions of narrative in other artistic media. The results of this investigation revealed a number of possible ways that musical narrative could be understood and described as well as suggesting how such ideas could be applied to the process of composition. The second part of the written component is concerned with a discussion of the works in my portfolio of compositions. Each piece is looked at in detail with regard to all aspects of its context and construction. This approach has allowed for an in-depth examination of my compositional methodology and has facilitated an understanding of how my work and working methods have developed during the course of my PhD studies. For the purposes of this examination, I have divided my portfolio into two broad categories: pieces that engage with extra-musical aspects and pieces that engage with musical conventions of various kinds or, as I have termed them, meta-musical aspects. This division has enabled me to draw out conceptual and musical connections between individual works and groups of pieces; it has also enabled me to suggest ways in which my work operates as narrative. This, in turn, potentially demonstrates that narrative is not something that is necessarily extra-musical but that it might instead be a category that can embrace both musical conventions and a wider conceptual context in the processes of composing and understanding music.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available