Title page for ETD etd-04272010-231859


Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Pfeifer, Zachary
URN etd-04272010-231859
Title Bioluminescence
Degree Master of Music (M.M.)
Department Music
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Constantinides, Dinos Committee Chair
Beck, Stephen David Committee Member
Perry, Jeff Committee Member
Keywords
  • orchestra
  • bioluminescence
Date of Defense 2010-04-14
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
The ability of certain animals to create natural light is called bioluminescence. This ability is found throughout the world in various biomes but is most common in the deep ocean, in layers of dark water that remain untouched by the sun’s rays.

One way Bioluminescence attempts to convey light moving though the depths is by assigning bright passages to instruments that are easily heard over light accompanying textures or are sometimes featured in solos or duets. The soprano saxophone and vibraphone are the two most common examples of this.

Bioluminescence is written in the tradition of an orchestral tone poem, in that we move from one section to the next in a progression that changes in themes and orchestration but that allows cohesion between the “movements” so that the work can be understood as a whole.

In Two Lights we meet our first bioluminescent creatures that we will follow throughout the work, two small and blue-glowing krill that float seemingly aimlessly throughout the deep as they search for food in the form of “marine snow”. Denizens of a Liquid Night introduces us to a variety of new and strange creatures; the most sinister of these is the monstrous Angler Fish, which is portrayed by the bassoons and bass clarinet as they play their brooding quartet on repeated occasions. As the illuminated krill swim to safety they discover a new arena of feeding grounds and marine richness in Pathfinder.

The middle section of the piece is comprised of two fast sections which share material. The first of these sections, Tricks and Traps is an aggressive look at the hunters who patrol the dark waters and the devious tactics they use to lure prey into deadly traps. In Vampire! we meet one of the predators, Vampyroteuthis infernalis, or Vampire Squid who uses his glowing blue lures to seduce prey into his clutches.

The work concludes with Song of the Luminescent which is a reiteration of some of the themes as our glowing krill float among an endless sea of bioluminescent jellyfish, illuminating the water like a city of hanging lamps.

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