UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Compositions Laing, Peter James


This thesis is a collection of six musical works written between the years of 1999 and 2002. Each composition, with the exception of the two marches, is minimal and includes works for concert band, SATB choir and organ, symphony orchestra, and trombone quintet. Continuum is a fanfare for band, which is orchestrated much like a jigsaw puzzle. The fast repeated melodic lines (mainly in the high winds) are sliced into fragments. These fragments are then given to a particular instrumental group and when played in sequence, form a complete musical statement. The notion of looping became my central idea for this piece, where individual lines seem to go on for infinity, thus spawning the title of the piece. The text for the Missa Brevis, or Short Mass, was both an inspiration and elation for me; so much so I felt compelled to set it to paper. The Latin text is quite idiomatic for the voice and the length of each stanza renders itself well for the repetitive nature of minimal music. The text is a modified one, in order to allow for much repetition while at the same time maintaining shorter movements. However, due to this modification the Mass is unfortunately unsuitable for a holy service. The title Bravo Zulu is quite fitting for a military march since the term is both militaresque in nature and meant to instil motivation in the troops. Military signals are sent as letters and/or numbers, which have meanings by themselves or in certain combinations. Therefore, the letters BZ, or Bravo Zulu in the phonetic alphabet, means 'well done'. The style of the march in this piece emulates that of the early 20t h century British marches with its minor mode and heroic nature. From Sea to Sea a quick march for military band was inspired by my Canadian heritage. The title originates from the motto inscribed on the Canadian Coat of Arms, " A Mari usque ad Mare." The motto itself is based on Psalm 72:8, "He shall have dominion from sea to sea and from the river unto the ends of the earth." Unlike my previous march, Bravo Zulu, I wanted a more light-hearted feel, which is evident in the first strain with its piccolo solo and quirky bass line. Blanco Nero for symphony orchestra is essentially an orchestrated melody with the exception of the introduction. The introduction is a color transformation from dark to light using only the notes that appear in the melody. The melody employs the minimalist technique known as an additive procedure, whereby a melodic fragment is repeated and every so often a new note is added. The piano is the driving force behind the piece while the rest of the orchestra plays only the notes that are directly inline with the melody in varying ranges and durations. What makes this compositional technique interesting is that other melodies are produced in other instruments. Trancesendence for trombone quintet is no spelling mistake; its root actually comes from a genre of techno music known as Trance. By definition when listened to for extended periods of time, Trance depletes one's consciousness of reality and lures one into a relentless metaphysical stupor, much like minimalism. The form of the piece is through-composed. I chose this particular form to emulate a Disc Jockey technique known as beat-matching, whereby one song flows fluently into the next without interruption.

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