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Reshaping American Music: The Quotation of Shape-Note Hymns by Twentieth-Century Composers

Smolko, Joanna Ruth (2009) Reshaping American Music: The Quotation of Shape-Note Hymns by Twentieth-Century Composers. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Throughout the twentieth century, American composers have quoted nineteenth-century shape-note hymns in their concert works, including instrumental and vocal works and film scores. When referenced in other works the hymns become lenses into the shifting web of American musical and national identity. This study reveals these complex interactions using cultural and musical analyses of six compositions from the 1930s to the present as case studies. The works presented are Virgil Thomson's film score to The River (1937), Aaron Copland's arrangement of "Zion's Walls" (1952), Samuel Jones's symphonic poem Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1974), Alice Parker's opera Singers Glen (1978), William Duckworth's choral work Southern Harmony and Musical Companion (1980-81), and the score compiled by T Bone Burnett for the film Cold Mountain (2003). Utilizing archival sources and interviews with composers, this study draws from a number of methodologies and disciplines in order to present a kaleidoscopic view of the meanings and contexts of these compositions, including cultural, religious, American, and music history, as well as musical and textual analysis. Through this thick-history approach, the study demonstrates the ways in which shape-note quotations evoke American regional and national history, and the composers' personal memories and identities.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Smolko, Joanna
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairRoot, Deane Ldlr@pitt.eduDLR
Committee MemberShockley,
Committee MemberCassaro, James Pcassaro@pitt.eduCASSARO
Committee MemberLewis, Mary Slsm@pitt.eduLSM
Committee MemberSmith, Philip Epsmith@pitt.eduPSMITH
Date: 25 June 2009
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 27 March 2009
Approval Date: 25 June 2009
Submission Date: 21 April 2009
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
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: American music; American religious history; folk music; Harmonia Sacra; hymnody; intertextuality; music revival; musical borrowing; musical quotation; Sacred Harp; Shape-note hymns; Southern Harmony; twentieth-century music; tonal music; twenty-first-century music
Other ID:, etd-04212009-144446
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:40
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:41


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