Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Musical Form in Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
by Bigler, Nathan Robert, M.M., Northern Arizona University, 2018, 161; 10817691
Abstract (Summary)

Hymn singing is an integral part of both congregational and private worship for millions across the globe. While hymns have been the subject of research regarding history, origins, and cultural influence, there has been very little research regarding musical forms and harmonic structures found in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Protestant hymns. In discussing form, many theory texts describe the bulk of modern hymn music as “strophic.”

Using William Caplin’s text Classical Form (1998) as a model of analytical techniques and principles, this thesis examines the Mormon collection Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1985) and reveals that “strophic” is too narrow a label for an entire hymnal. Four formal models and one harmonic structure emerge. Each is identified by specific musical characteristics (illustrated using hymn examples), and together these five structures encompass a majority of the 341 hymns in the hymnal. Chapter 1 gives a brief historical review of Protestant hymn development and of the LDS hymnal. Chapter 2 discusses the analytical methods used in this study. Chapter 3 introduces the two smaller multi-phrase models: the “small-scale model” that manifests as any of several variations of an aaba phrase structure; and the “two-phrase model” that manifests as an extremely compact binary structure. Chapter 3 also introduces the “standard harmonic structure” that circumscribes expository, transitional, developmental, and closing/cadential harmonic functions across a single hymn. Chapter 4 introduces the two larger sectional models (made up of phrase groups): the “verse-chorus model” that manifests as a sectional binary form with distinctive musical characteristics in each half; and the “large-scale model” that encompasses all other sectional hymns. There are dozens of ways individual hymns can manifest the characteristics of one model or another, and much of the interest of studying hymns is found in discovering that within these five structures the hymns exhibit an abundance of structural variety, creativity, and interest. Chapter 5 examines ways that many hymns stretch the model boundaries, exhibit formal trends outside the model boundaries, or largely defy formal categorization based on the four models and the standard harmonic structure outlined in this study.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Brown, Stephen C.
Commitee: Russell, Jennifer J., Smith, Timothy A.
School: Northern Arizona University
Department: Music
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: MAI 57/06M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Religion, Music
Keywords: Form, Hymn, Latter-day saints, Mormon
Publication Number: 10817691
ISBN: 978-0-438-00741-3
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