Title page for ETD etd-06082008-222244

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Wang, Wennan
Author's Email Address wwang13@lsu.edu
URN etd-06082008-222244
Title “Shui Diao Ge Tou” from Poems of the Sung Dynasty
Degree Master of Music (M.M.)
Department Music
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Dinos Constantinides Committee Chair
Samuel Ng Committee Member
Stephen David Beck Committee Member
  • Shui Diao Ge Tou
  • Jiang Chen Zi
  • Chinese music
  • Su Dong Po
Date of Defense 2008-04-30
Availability unrestricted
“Shui Diao Ge Tou” from Poems of the Sung Dynasty is a piece for full orchestra. It was suggested by two poems of Su Dong Po. One is “Shui Diao Ge Tou”. The other one is “Jiang Chen Zi”. No movement of this piece has a fixed form, but the whole piece takes on the arch structure. The musical development is analogous to the texts of the poems, and the whole piece is controlled by two principal themes. They can first be found at measures 6 and 15.

The materials of this work are drawn from the old traditional Chinese music. They are not always based on a pentatonic scale. Instead, they often have seven-tone scales which are similar to the Mixolydian, Lydian or Ionian church modes. Sometimes I even combined them like Bartok did. I wondered if these melodic patterns would give more an Asian quality to this piece. They connect better with the poems written by Su Dong Po. I really got an idea a long time ago to combine the Western composing techniques and Chinese flavor.

The more interesting thing for this piece is the title of the second movement “A Dialogue Between Su Dong Po and Debussy”. How did I come up with this title? When I composed the first movement, I found that Debussy’s “La Mer” and Ravel’s “Rapsodie Espagnole” had some influences on my music. So I tried to make a quotation there, but my music is quite different from theirs. And at the same time, I developed the two main themes so that the music is like a dialogue between two people who come from the different countries, two different cultures. I was wondering if I have successfully combined the two different elements.

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