Criterion for tune: identifying "New Englandy" traits of Alice Parker's choral settings of Emily Dickinson poetry

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Kelley, Sally
Crow, Andrew
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Thesis (D.A.)
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This dissertation identifies “New Englandly” characteristics in Alice Parker’s choral cycles setting Emily Dickinson poems. An extensive literature review helps identify New Englandly traits in poetry. In particular, Christanne Miller’s book, Emily Dickinson: A Poet’s Grammar, provides five ways that Dickinson uses unconventional grammar to achieve her characteristic New Englandly quality: compression, disjunction, repetition, syntax, and speech. Musical analysis in the document maps Parker’s New Englandly characteristics through those five linguistic elements. Because the composer’s approach to composition focuses on melody rather than harmony, a new method of musical analysis was needed, one that offers an alternative to harmonic analysis. This study focuses on three choral cycles by Parker, each composition setting multiple Dickinson texts: Heavenly Hurt: Songs of Love and Loss, Dickinson: The Definition of Beauty, and Dickinson: On “Nature.” These compositions feature a chorus of singers in either SATB voicing or treble voices, combined with varying accompaniment, including piano and cello.