Title page for ETD etd-12092003-121423

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Price, William Morris
Author's Email Address wprice1@lsu.edu
URN etd-12092003-121423
Title An Original Composition, Symphony No. 1, Pollock and an Analysis of the Evolution of Frank Zappa's "Be-Bop Tango"
Degree Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.)
Department Music
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Dinos Constantinides Committee Chair
Jan Herlinger Committee Member
Jeff Perry Committee Member
John Lowe Committee Member
Stephen David Beck Committee Member
  • be-bop tango
  • Zappa
  • Frank Zappa
  • orchestra
  • Pollock
  • symphony no. 1
  • bebop
  • tango
  • chamber orchestra
  • music theory
  • analysis
  • composition
Date of Defense 2003-10-09
Availability unrestricted
Part one of this dissertation is an original composition, Symphony No. 1, Pollock. It uses as a conceptual impetus the abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollock’s paintings from the 1950’s. It employs the following instrumentation: (2-2-2-2, 4-3-3-1, 3 percussion, piano, harp, and strings). The work is composed in one movement, which is divided into four major sections (A-B-A/C-B) that are distinct from each other with respect to style and tempo.

The first major section of the composition serves as a slow introduction. The second major section serves as a contrast and is based conceptually on Pollock’s abstract works and formally on the principle of interlocking variations. The third major section consists of a varied return to the slow introduction. It is followed by a fast dance in triple meter and a slower passage that emphasizes interrupted gestures through sudden silences, contrasting areas of textural density, and the juxtaposition of dissimilar compositional materials. The final major section consists of a varied return to the dynamic gestures of the second section. The dense instrumentation, the juxtaposition of dissimilar materials, and the use of pandiatonic techniques assists in the representation of Jackson Pollock’s textural canvases.

Part two of the dissertation provides an analysis of the evolution of Frank Zappa’s Be-Bop Tango. It is divided into five chapters. The first chapter consists of an introduction and biography of the composer. The second chapter provides historical information about the materials used in the work. The third chapter includes a detailed analysis of the original unspecified instrument and piano score, how it relates to Zappa’s compositional aesthetic, and a historiography of how the score was orchestrated for his amplified chamber ensembles. The fourth chapter discusses and explores the chamber orchestra version of the work, how it differs from the original score structurally, thematically, and harmonically, and how Zappa and his assistant Ali N. Askin revised and arranged the work for chamber orchestra. The fifth chapter examines Zappa’s early influences and how they manifest themselves in the work, and the sixth chapter provides a summary of the findings of the previous chapters.

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