Dissertation Index



Author: Atkinson, Sean E

Title: An Analytical Model for the Study of Multimedia Compositions: A Case Study in Minimalist Music

Institution: Florida State University

Begun: March 2008

Completed: April 2009

Abstract:

The examination of multimedia compositions by minimalist composers demands the analysis of not only the music, but also the visual and narrative domains. While there are many ways of addressing the music, there are relatively few methods that engage all of the constituent domains that comprise these multifaceted works. One of these existing methods, developed by Nicholas Cook, analyzes a multimedia work using a series of models based on the literary concepts of semiotics and metaphor. However, these models fail to address the underlying meaning of the composition.

This dissertation addresses the problem of uncovering meaning in minimalist multimedia works by developing a new analytical model. The new model, like Cook’s models, makes use of semiotic and metaphorical concepts, but uses them in an entirely different manner. The result is a comprehensive model designed to incorporate the music, visual, and narrative domains into an all-inclusive blended meaning. To demonstrate the model, four relatively recent multimedia works by minimalist or minimalist-influenced composers are examined: Three Tales by Steve Reich, Nixon in China by John Adams, Lost Objects by Bang-on-a-Can-composers Michael Gordon, Julia Wolfe, and David Lang, and Naqoyqatsi by Philip Glass. These analyses reveal nuanced interpretations and hidden subtexts that are only accessible through the examination of the entire multimedia structure.

Keywords: Philip Glass, Metaphor, Bang on a Can, Music Theory, Minimalism, Music Analysis, Steve Reich, John Adams, Semiotics

TOC:

1. DEVELOPING A MODEL FOR MULTIMEDIA ANALYSIS

1.1 Introduction
1.2 Semiotics
1.3 Metaphor
1.4 Other Interpretive Modes
1.5 Outline of Model
     1.5.1 Surface Level Analysis and Denotational Meaning
     1.5.2 Cross-Domain Mapping and Blending
1.6 Conclusion

2. TOOLS FOR ANALYSIS

2.1 Minimalist Music
     2.1.1 Issues of Rhythm and Meter
     2.1.2 Issues of Melody and Harmony
     2.1.3 Minimalism in a Broader Context
2.2 Minimalist Art
2.3 Film Form and Technique
2.4 Conclusion

3. THREE TALES

3.1 Background
3.2 “Hindenburg”
     3.2.1 “It Could Not Have Been a Technical Matter”
     3.2.2 “Nibelung Zeppelin”
     3.2.3 “A Very Impressive Thing to See”
     3.2.4 “I Couldn’t Understand It”
3.3 “Bikini”
     3.3.1 Music
     3.3.2 Visuals
     3.3.3 Text
     3.3.4 Interpretation
     3.3.5 Coda
3.4 Conclusion

4. NIXON IN CHINA

4.1 Background
4.2 Act I, Scene 3
     4.2.1 The Arrival and Initial Toasts
     4.2.2 Chou’s Aria
     4.2.3 Nixon’s Aria
     4.2.4 “Cheers!”
     4.2.5 Interpretation
4.3 Act II, Scene 2
     4.3.1 Entire Scene
     4.3.2 The Red Detachment of Women
4.4 Conclusion

5. LOST OBJECTS

5.1 Background
5.2 (3,4) Double Interval Cycle
5.3 “Acoustic Aphasia”
     5.3.1 Music
     5.3.2 Text
     5.3.3 Visuals
     5.3.4 Interpretation
5.4 “FW:FW: Please Look”
     5.4.1 Music
     5.4.2 Text
     5.4.3 Visuals
     5.4.4 Interpretation
5.5 Conclusion

6. NAQOYQATSI

6.1 Background
6.2 “Primacy of Number”
6.3 Conclusion

7. CONCLUSION


Contact:

Sean Atkinson
University of Texas at Arlington
seana@uta.edu
Link to Dissertation: http://etd.lib.fsu.edu/theses/available/etd-03162009-080125/

Date Listed: 07/02/2009


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