The slaying of the innocents : a relational treatise on composition and conducting

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Scott, Stuart O.
Amman, Douglas D.
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Thesis (D.A.)
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This dissertation is presented in two parts. The first part is a look at the composer-conductor through the composition, preparation, rehearsal, and performance of the work, The Slaying of the Innocents. The second part is an analysis of the insights each of the two disciplines provides the other, and the influences each may have on the other. Although the dissertation represents the basic and larger concepts of each composer-conductor, it is not intended to represent all thoughts of all composer-conductors, for these would be different for each individual.The major part of the text for the The Slaying of the Innocents is taken from the medieval miracle play, Herod and the Slaying of the Innocents. This play was originally written as a liturgical drama, and was later set to music as a music-drama. The identities of the playwrite and composer are unknown. However, three transcriptions of the music drama were found and used as text references for this dissertation. These transcriptions or editions are by Fletcher Collins Jr., Terence Bailey, and Noah Greenburg and William L. Smoldon. Other texts which were used in preparing this work include: parts of the Dies Irae sequence from the text and tune of the Coventry Carol.The Slaying of the Innocents, is composed for three choirs of mixed voices, a double brass quintet, a handbell choir, an organ, and a tenor soloist. Choir I sings primarily in English, is accompanied by the double brass quintet and organ, and conveys the major part of the story Choir II sings primarily in Latin, is accompanied by the handbell choir, and generally comments on the story. Choir III participates only in the final movement, singing the Coventry Carol in English. The solo tenor represents Herod, king of the Jews. He sings exclusively in English and shares the story line with Choir I.The Slaying of the Innocents provides the background to discuss the relationship between composition and conducting. Chapter one examines the term composer-conductor. This definition provides a reference for the second chapter, which is a brief but representative history of the composer-conductor and his changing function throughout history. The third chapter examines the composer-conductor from the conducting discipline, and how it might influence composing. These insights include: performing forces, acoustics, Requiem Mass, a setting of the Ave Maris Stella text, and the accessibility of the music, and audience factors. Chapter three discusses these insights in general and as they pertain to the composition of The Slaying of the Innocents,. The fourth chapter examines the composer-conductor from the composing discipline, and how it might influence conducting. These insights include: placement of performing forces, appropriate tempi, balance considerations, and a composer's understanding of the score. Chapter four presents these insights in general and as they pertain to the preparation, rehearsal, and performance of The Slaying of the Innocents. Chapter four also presents an interpretation of the work from the perspective of the composer. Obviously, some of the concepts discussed in both chapters three and four would normally fall into the disciplines of both the composer and the conductor. It is interesting, however, to examine the two perspectives and how the perspective of one discipline influences the perspective and performance of the other.