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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Musical composition, The silent dragons, with document Bashaw, Howard Eugene


The Silent Dragons is an 18-minute work for chamber ensemble and male chorus. The voice part has no literary or linguistic content, but uses phonemes for their sonic and expressive character. Compositional activity is organized into two essential layers; texture and drone. In its many forms, the textural layer persists throughout the entire composition and is perceived as the concurrence of two distinct continuums; the continuum of cumulative rhythmic effect in which the listener registers and interprets change in the total attack rhythm, and the continuum of textural transformation in which one perceives transitions from one overall textural condition to another. Both continuums arise from the consistent change in the structure of successive textural sonorities. Unlike texture, the drone lasts just one half the composition's overall length and is positioned temporally in the textural layer as a central segment. Both texture and drone are structured similarly in ternary form; the ternary form of the drone is contained within the ternary form of the textural layer. In this sense, and in the impression they make, texture and drone, respectively, provide the composition with primary and secondary forms of continuity. Each continuity has a strategic interim destination, an event, that activity 'must' proceed to and recede from; these destinations are, therefore, climatic in nature and are perceived as the two most significant events in the composition. Apart from sonority, texture and drone are distinguished primarily with reference to tonality; the textural layer is essentially non-tonal and is perceived, by and large, in terms of color and rhythm. The drone, however, is designed to induce a sense of tonality by means of heterophonic and linear relationships that conduce to perceptions of pitch emphasis and, ultimately, pitch centricity.

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