Symmetry and Narrative in Christopher Rouse's Trombone Concerto with white space waiting (an original composition for chamber orchestra)

by Reiter, R.Burkhardt

Abstract (Summary)
The analytic component of my dissertation, Symmetry and Narrative in Christopher Rouses Trombone Concerto, illuminates the ways in which the concerto creates a musical metaphor of tragedy. To help frame my discussion of the Trombone Concertos narrative elements (which include Rouses self-referential quotation to his own Symphony No.1 and a quotation of Leonard Bernsteins Kaddish Symphony No.3) I draw on Northrop Fryes classification of tragedy as a narrative archetype. In order to illuminate the narrative functions of the two quotations and other motivic elements, I examine (with voice-leading and structural analysis) how the works prevailing formal and harmonic symmetry provides the narrative context for its musical expectations. The tragedy of the concerto is realized when the harmonic expectation created by the Bernstein quotation is disrupted by the return of the compositions opening harmony and motivic gesture. Fulfilling the compositional requirements, I submit my 2002 work white space waiting. It is a slow, at times lyric, elegy for chamber orchestra. The harmonic and motivic focus of the piece revolves around five distinct pitches: C, C#, E, F#, and B. These pitches do not occur as a specific leit-motif, but they do recur at important moments (in various guises and orderings) as the composition unfolds. Because white space waiting has large structural repetitions, a key compositional element to the piece is the way in which the order of repetition among different sections becomes varied. By analogy, a three-part form (which this composition is not) might have the following structural rules: once ABC is presented as a particular order of events, A does not always lead to B and C can sometimes precede A in subsequent repetitions. Likewise, for white space waiting, a particular material that serves as the beginning of one section may appear as the ending of another section or as a section unto itself.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Eric Moe; Mathew Rosenblum; Don Franklin; Dennis Looney

School:University of Pittsburgh

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:10/10/2005

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