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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A Study of Stacked Canon Systems within the (Extended) Common Practice
by Chau, Dustin W., M.M., University of Kansas, 2019, 129; 13886210
Abstract (Summary)

During the Age of Enlightenment, a debate surged between two factions whose main concern was musical counterpoint. On one hand, there were those who shrouded it in notions such as alchemy, magic, and supernatural. On the other hand, there were those who claimed its features were reducible to a bedrock of scientific truth. This paper aims to investigate one contrapuntal device at the center of their debate, the canon. Formal music-theoretical techniques, including common practice preferences, set-class theory, geometric representations, and neo-Riemannian theory will be used to demystify some properties of a specific arrangement of imitation, the stacked canon.

Stacked canons are defined as, “the principle that any voice which is a comes could itself also serve as a dux. For these pieces, any two consecutive voices will be related by the same interval. Renaissance composers judged this as a particularly interesting effect when the interval of the canon was not a unison” (Alan Gosman 1997, 289). The traditions of stacked canon composition stem from Renaissance polyphony, where it was a compositional technique usually reserved for special occasions and commemorations. Among many other reasons, Western traditions placed this contrapuntal technique upon a pedestal, considering these compositions as “tours de force.” These traditions have been modified throughout the centuries, relegating their high status to small-scale personal musical exchanges. Each of the stacked canons studied throughout this thesis are dedicated to an individual or group of people whom the composers hold in high esteem.

Through quantitative rigor, the boundary between science and the humanities will be contemplated and explored. The analytical tools adopted and developed will serve as a measurement of what can be explained and what is ineffable within the traditions of stacked canon composition and their position within the extended common practice.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Murphy, Scott
Commitee: Street, David Alan, Roust, Colin
School: University of Kansas
Department: Music
School Location: United States -- Kansas
Source: MAI 81/7(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Music theory
Keywords: Analysis, Canon, Counterpoint, Hindemith, Holst, Music
Publication Number: 13886210
ISBN: 9781392416457
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