Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Reshaping American music: The quotation of shape -note hymns by twentieth-century composers
by Smolko, Joanna Ruth, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2009, 305; 3375243
Abstract (Summary)

Throughout the twentieth century, American composers have quoted nineteenth-century shape-note hymns in their concert works, including instrumental and vocal works and film scores. When referenced in other works the hymns become lenses into the shifting web of American musical and national identity. This study reveals these complex interactions using cultural and musical analyses of six compositions from the 1930s to the present as case studies. The works presented are Virgil Thomson’s film score to The River (1937), Aaron Copland’s arrangement of “Zion’s Walls” (1952), Samuel Jones’s symphonic poem Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1974), Alice Parker’s opera Singers Glen (1978), William Duckworth’s choral work Southern Harmony and Musical Companion (1980-81), and the score compiled by T Bone Burnett for the film Cold Mountain (2003). Utilizing archival sources and interviews with composers, this study draws from a number of methodologies and disciplines in order to present a kaleidoscopic view of the meanings and contexts of these compositions, including cultural, religious, American, and music history, as well as musical and textual analysis. Through this thick-history approach, the study demonstrates the ways in which shape-note quotations evoke American regional and national history, and the composers’ personal memories and identities.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Root, Deane L.
School: University of Pittsburgh
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 70/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: American studies, Music, Theology
Keywords: American music, Film music, Musical borrowing, Sacred Harp, Shape-note hymnody, Shape-note hymns, Twentieth century
Publication Number: 3375243
ISBN: 978-1-109-39592-1
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