Note:This scholarly essay is part of a research project submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts in the School of Music. The project also involved the preparation and performance of two lecture recitals related to the essay topic.

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Title:IMPROVISATION AS A GENERATIVE TOOL FOR NEW OPERA: AN EXPLORATION OF METHODS AND PARAMETERS
Author(s):Denham, Ellen Louise
Advisor(s):Professor Erik Lund
Contributor(s):Professor Sylvia Stone; Associate Professor Katherine Syer; Assistant Professor Michael Tilley
Department / Program:School of Music
Discipline:Music
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:A.Mus.D. (doctoral)
Subject(s):Music
improvisation
opera
ellen
denham
Abstract:This scholarly essay explores the subject of improvisation in opera and vocal music, tracing its historical antecedents, providing examples of contemporary, classically-informed improvising singers and opera companies, and presenting an overview of possible methods and parameters. Chapter 1 examines the historical background of extemporaneous counterpoint in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the flourishing of improvised ornaments and embellishments from the Baroque era to the bel canto style of the nineteenth century, and the eventual decline in the use of improvised ornaments and cadenzas in the late nineteenth century. Chapter 2 covers first the subject of contemporary improvisation, including experimental techniques from the 1950s and 1960s, with reference to the use of improvisatory elements in composed scores. The second area involves a discussion of singer-composers Cathy Berberian, Meredith Monk, Pamela Z, and Bobby McFerrin. The third area explores current opera creators and performers using improvisation, focusing on the improv-comedy-based groups Impropera and La Donna Improvvisata, and two “devised operas”: Ann Baltz’s OperaWorks production of The Discord Altar, and Ellen Lindquist’s dream seminar. Much of this newer material has yet to be the subject of much scholarship. Chapter 3 presents an exploration of methods and parameters used to generate operatic material, including the author’s work in vocal improvisation at the Indy Convergence annual arts residencies; the methods taught by Ann Baltz in her OperaWorks training programs for emerging and professional opera singers; and harmonic methods used by Christopher Azzara, Edward Sarath, Jeffrey Agrell, Jamey Aebersold, and Adam Rudolph.
Issue Date:2016
Publisher:University of Illinois
Citation Info:Denham, Ellen Louise. IMPROVISATION AS A GENERATIVE TOOL FOR NEW OPERA: AN EXPLORATION OF METHODS AND PARAMETERS. Scholarly essay submitted at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, School of Music, 2016.
Genre:Presentation / Lecture / Speech
Essay
Type:Text
Language:English
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/90218
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-06-01


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