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Chou Wen-chung and his music: A musical and biographical profile of cultural synthesis

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Title: Chou Wen-chung and his music: A musical and biographical profile of cultural synthesis
Author(s): Chang, Peter M.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Nettl, Bruno
Department / Program: Music
Discipline: Music
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): Biography Music
Abstract: The main point of Richard Waterman's theory of syncretism is that, when musical elements in two cultures are compatible, a synthesis would most likely occur. According to this, the seemingly incompatible nature of Chinese and Western musical elements could have prevented a fusion. Since Chou Wen-Chung's musical fusion is successful and is representative of the prevalent practice among contemporary composers, this study has especially been motivated to shed new light on this issue by seeking an explanation with an ethnomusicological perspective for Chou's success and its implications in contemporary music both in the East and the West.The analytical and biographical data show that Chou's musical development in fusing Chinese and Western elements progresses from the impressionistic use of Chinese melodies, modes, rhythmic figures and percussion sound in his early works to abstract portrayal of Chinese subjects, aesthetic ideals and principles realized through structural manipulation in his later works, and the compositions of musical concepts.This study has concluded that, in addition to Waterman's and Merriam's observations that shared specific musical features are necessary for musical fusion, the process in such a fusion involves the cultural insiders' reinterpretation, in terms of their own tradition, of those similar traits from the donor culture. Those similar traits are not limited to concrete musical material; they could also include aesthetic values, which govern all branches of the fine arts such as poetry, painting, calligraphy, and music. Thus, in his later works, Chou has avoided all together the use of pentatonic modes, the superficial link between Mahler, Debussy, Ravel, and Chinese music.
Issue Date: 1995
Type: Text
Language: English
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/20711
Rights Information: Copyright 1995 Chang, Peter M.
Date Available in IDEALS: 2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog: AAI9624307
OCLC Identifier: (UMI)AAI9624307
 

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