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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Triadic transformation and harmonic coherence in the music of Gavin Bryars Cook, Scott Alexander


Recent developments in music theory have offered new ways of analyzing and interpreting music that uses major and minor triads differently than in traditional dominant-tonic tonality. Riemannian theory, developed and adapted from the dualist theories of Hugo Riemann (1849-1919), is perhaps the most noteworthy example. However, there is still a broad class of triadic compositions that this theory does not satisfactorily describe. In a 2002 article, Julian Hook proposes a family of "Uniform Triadic Transformations" (UTTs) that encompasses Riemannian transformations, along with a variety of other triadic transformations. The pitch classes in a triad other than the root are not explicit in his representation, making his model distinct from neo- Riemannian and other triadic models that focus on triads’ voice-leading and commontone relationships. In this thesis, I demonstrate the applicability of Hook’s model to the analysis of chord progressions in musical passages from two works by the prominent contemporary British composer Gavin Bryars. Specifically, I show how a special simplytransitive subgroup of UTTs can offer understanding and insight into some of Bryars’s compositional practices. I then suggest further extensions of Hook’s theory, which were not explicit in his article, and apply them to a third work by Bryars.

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