Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Listening to the Last Frontier: How Climate Change Has Affected the Music of John Luther Adams and Matthew Burtner
by Helker, Lucas, M.M., University of Kansas, 2020, 78; 27994521
Abstract (Summary)

Music has always been influenced by nature. Even before the Middle Ages, the environment in which a person resided has had a profound effect on their creative output. As a result, composers have often sought to recreate their landscape through their compositions. However, the limitations of musical instruments forced composers to find creative ways of evoking such landscapes: flutes often became birds, strings became the air, and horns might represent the rising and setting of the sun.

This thesis concerns the composers John Luther Adams and Matthew Burtner, both of whom have spent significant periods of their lives living and working in Alaska. The influence of Alaska’s climate and landscapes continues to be a source of inspiration for both composers, each of whom have dramatically different approaches to musical expression. Both composers have since become well-known for their musical interpretation of nature, showcasing the massive scale of the natural world while simultaneously highlighting how minute actions from humans have dramatic consequences.

Unfortunately, the rapid effects of climate change over the past several decades have affected all landscapes, not just Alaska’s. For both composers, their writing processes have evolved to favor more introspective consideration of the relationship between humans and nature. This thesis seeks to contextualize each composer by examining selected works to demonstrate this shift.

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Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Compitello, Michael, Roust, Colin
Commitee: Nedbal, Martin, Watson, Scott
School: University of Kansas
Department: Music
School Location: United States -- Kansas
Source: MAI 81/12(E), Masters Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Music, Climate Change
Keywords: Alaska, Ecoacoustics, John Luther Adams, Matthew Burtner
Publication Number: 27994521
ISBN: 9798635278796
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