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Portfolio of compositions and commentary

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

The eight compositions and the accompanying commentary explore aesthetic approaches and techniques that originated in Varèse (organized sound), Lutosławski (pitch and structural systems) and Scelsi (explorations of sonority), as well as ways of integrating them with Brazilian indigenous culture - specifically the Tupi. The aim has been to develop a personal compositional approach and create a fusion of my own cultural heritage with the ideals and compositional techniques of modernism.
The compositional processes have been particularly concerned with the inter-relations between musical surface (texture) and instrumental colour (timbre) and an underpinning harmonic unfolding. The more abstract compositions in this thesis generally employ complex timbre-structures and sonorities, that use extended techniques and often resort to microtonality for expressive and sensuous purposes. Complementarily, those that draw from indigenous-Brazilian materials stimulated further investigations into extended techniques and textural density in order to evoke exotic sound-worlds.
Sextet, is the starting piece in my inquiries into the relations of harmony, texture and timbre, albeit in a spontaneous form.
Fluxus, for ensemble, explores tensions between movement and stasis. Through the use of a basic gesture formed out of descending-patterns, a variety of textures were created, which unfold through a diversity of harmonic frameworks.
Caminantes IV (for clarinet and guitar) and Tristich (for three players) display instrumental virtuosity, a rich timbral palette, that includes extended techniques, and the contrast between pitch and noise. Both explore numerous timbral combinations articulating modal and cluster-chord progressions.
Guirápuap (for three players) is the first work engaging with the indigenous-Brazilian, reconsidering elemental questions regarding 'melody' and 'rhythm', in order to arrive at an individual combination of modernist and Tupi materials.
Iamí (for Symphony Orchestra) evokes sonorities and the ambiance of tropical forests by using differing materials, polyrhythmic textures, chromaticism and noise.
Finally, Guainumbi (for solo flute) and Hipupiára (for Symphony Orchestra) are inspired by Tupi imagery and legend. Varied musical materials are layered to create conglomerates that are in constant flux, thus intrinsically dealing with matters of sonority, timbre and texture in the articulation of melodic and harmonic unfolding in fluidly changing contexts.
Original languageEnglish
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Award date2018

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