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You Can't Be Serious for String Quartet: Insight and Analysis

Summers, Alec (2009) You Can't Be Serious for String Quartet: Insight and Analysis. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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You Can't Be Serious, for string quartet, is my longest and most musically advanced composition to date. While written somewhat as a self-portrait, or perhaps more a self-reflection on my musical life up to this point, the piece is not programmatic in any way; a study into the non-musical influences on the composition of the piece would not shed light on or reveal the true nature or meaning of the work. This piece was written in an intuitive manner, and for that reason, my aim in this essay is to examine and dissect it, revealing my innate musical tendencies. In this way, I hope to better understand my personal compositional process and the musical elements, (e.g. form, rhythm, pitch, harmony, etc.) that come most naturally to me in my writing. In order to accomplish this, I examine the piece from varying levels of perspective and utilize several analytical techniques, including phrase analysis, pitch/harmony analysis, and an investigation into the many transitional passages that are very important in the work. Through phrase analysis, I reveal the form of the piece, highlight distinctions between sections, and address the usage of repetition within the work. By analyzing pitch (harmony and melody), I reveal musical distinctions and commonalities that define my personal aesthetic. The transitional passages are a critical element in the development of the piece, and how the music moves from one sound world, or musical landscape, to another. This is where the self-portrait element of the piece is most relevant, in the sense that it reflects my multi-faceted work in the field of music -jazz, rock and roll, commercial music and new art music. I hope to unveil compositional processes in these sections that dictate the form of the piece, play with listeners' expectations, and illustrate my compositional choices that show how I develop and transition between musical ideas.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Summers, Alecajs146@pitt.eduAJS146
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMoe, Ericemoe@pitt.eduEMOE
Committee MemberWilliams, Amyamywill@pitt.eduAMYWILL
Committee MemberRosenblum, Mathewrosenblu@pitt.eduROSENBLU
Date: 4 June 2009
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 7 April 2009
Approval Date: 4 June 2009
Submission Date: 22 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: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: music analysis; new music; string quartet
Other ID:, etd-04222009-091437
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:40
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:41


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