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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Effects of lessons in Schenkerian analysis upon students' performances of tonal works Nakajima, Ayako Karen


This project focuses on performers’ first-hand experiences with Schenkerian analysis and its application to performance. Although some research in Schenkerian analysis and performance is in the current literature, the amount involving actual performers is miniscule. Therefore, I worked with music students from the University of British Columbia and, with each performer, went through a Schenkerian analysis of a tonal work that he or she had selected and performed. After a few weeks to practise and rehearse, all participants performed in a recital. Performances from before the lesson, the dress rehearsal, and the recital were recorded. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected through participant surveys given periodically throughout the experiment, and observations were made during the lesson and on the recordings of the pre- and post-lesson interpretations. The general consensus of the influence of Schenkerian analysis on the performer’s interpretation was positive. The most mentioned interpretation alterations were changes in the phrasing and pacing, followed by an easier ability to conceptualize the piece as a whole, rather than many small details attached together. Some elements improved participants’ understanding of the piece but did not generate any change in interpretation. Also, the relevance of the Urlinie is questionable. Audible differences in the pre- and post-lesson recordings include those of phrasing and shaping of phrases, breath marks to highlight the phrasing, and fluctuation in tempo. Yet, many elements also remained the same in both pre- and post-lesson performances. Schenkerian analysis was used as a supplement to the performer’s own background and influences in creating an interpretation and equipped the performers with another useful tool to aid in interpretation, but did not limit the use of other tools. Limited knowledge and time are two factors that worked against the performers' ability to incorporate Schenkerian analysis into their performance preparation.

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