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Title: Portfolio of compositions : pitch-class set theory in music and mathematics
Author: McNeilis, Michael James
ISNI:       0000 0004 6496 2022
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2017
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This portfolio contains six scores of contemporary works, one electroacoustic piece submitted in concrete audio format and a critical commentary. Three additional scores are included as appendices, which present alternative arrangements of the acoustic works. An accompanying data DVD includes stereo recordings of a concert performance and four workshop performances, as well as stereo and 5.1 versions of the electroacoustic piece. With existing literature primarily focussing on pitch-class set theory as an analytical tool, this study aims to answer the question: Can set theory be used as the basis of a compositional framework to advance the creative process within the interdisciplinary field of music and mathematics? The pieces in the portfolio consider how set theory can be applied alongside mathematical principles like mutation, symmetry and proportion to inform musical networks and topologies based on material such as the octatonic scale, whole-tone scale and the all-interval tetrachords. A particular emphasis is placed on relationships between pitch-class sets in order to produce coherent compositional designs which link micro-level material to macro-level form and structure. Postcompositional evaluation of each work helps to create subsequent designs in the portfolio, and culminates in the piece Aggregation, which assesses the mathematical principles and compositional techniques developed earlier in the portfolio to encapsulate the research within a unified design and large-scale work. The results of the research establish set theory as a viable mathematical language for both the precompositional and compositional stages of the creative process, and demonstrate refinement of my own compositional methodology and musical style.
Supervisor: Percy, I. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral