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Polyrhythm as an Integral Feature of African Pianism: Analysis of Piano Works by Akin Euba, Gyorgy Ligeti & Joshua Uzoigwe and Àjùlo Kìnìún (Original Composition)

OLURANTI, STEPHEN (2012) Polyrhythm as an Integral Feature of African Pianism: Analysis of Piano Works by Akin Euba, Gyorgy Ligeti & Joshua Uzoigwe and Àjùlo Kìnìún (Original Composition). Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Akin Euba (b.1935), Gyorgy Ligeti (1923 – 2006) and Joshua Uzoigwe (1946 – 2005) are three art music composers with different approaches to intercultural musical composition. However, representative piano works - Themes from Chaka I by Euba (1996), Fanfares by Ligeti (1985) and Ukom (Talking Drums for Piano Solo Op.11) by Uzoigwe (c.1991) - can be placed on the same stage in their use of processes and resources germane to African traditional music. Specifically, polyrhythm invoking African rhythms is a stylistic resource common to all three of these works. Furthermore, the three composers make the piano simulate African traditional instruments whilst invoking the aesthetics of African traditional music in rhythm and texture. It is my thesis that the occurrence of polyrhythm in the three piano works goes beyond the realm of stylistic usage but functions on a structural level. Thus, the focus of my study is how polyrhythm, functioning at various structural levels and yielding larger rhythmic consequences, is used as a compositional tool to define musical coherence. Using Simha Arom’s discussion on polyrhythm (African Polyphony and Polyrhythm, Cambridge University Press, 1985) as a basis, I develop a method to evaluate the polyrhythmic component of the three piano pieces.

The composition component of my dissertation is Àjùlo Kìnìún for Yorùbá talking drum, voice, piano, flute, àkúbà drums and percussion (temple blocks, agogo and sèkèrè). In this work, I explore the speech and rhythm capabilities of the Yorùbá talking drum as used in the Yorùbá dùndún instrumental genre. I also explore the musicality of the Yorùbá language, based on three tone levels, through the traditional vocal style that fluctuates between the “speech-chant-song” continuum. I advance the concept of African Pianism by making the piano further behave like the talking drum with regards to pitch, with the approximation of the system of three tone levels of the spoken Yorùbá language, which forms the basis of the Yorùbá talking drum repertoire.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMOE, ERICemoe@pitt.eduEMOE
Committee MemberEUBA, AKINaeuba@pitt.eduAEUBA
Committee MemberGLASCO, Laurencelag1@pitt.eduLAG1
Committee MemberROSENBLUM, MATHEWrosenblu+@pitt.eduROSENBLU
Committee MemberWIILIAMS, AMYamywill@pitt.eduAMYWILL
Date: 2 July 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 2 April 2012
Approval Date: 2 July 2012
Submission Date: 17 April 2012
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 197
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Music
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Polyrhythm, African Pianism, Yoruba talking drum, iyaalu, African rhythm, Akin Euba, Joshua Uzoigwe, Gyorgy Ligeti,Ayo Oluranti
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2012 19:19
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2017 05:15


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