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Solo Piano Works by Ke-Chia Chen: "To an Isolated Island" and "Treasure Box"

Stephanie Yu, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Since the twentieth century, it has become increasingly popular for composers to combine traditional folk materials and contemporary compositional techniques. Taiwanese composer Ke-Chia Chen is among these composers who choose to bridge their historical and cultural past with modern compositional methods. To An Isolated Island (2004) and Treasure Box (2010) represent, to date, the mature works for solo piano of Ke-Chia Chen, and are the main focus of this document. This study details Chen’s employment of various compositional approaches in these works, and provides a thorough analysis of each piece. To An Isolated Island is the first piano piece Ke-Chia Chen wrote after moving to the United States for graduate school, marking a turning point in her life as a composer. In this piece, Chen combines traditional Taiwanese folk music with a Western compositional approach. Treasure Box is the most recent solo piano piece Chen has written. This piece explores several modern compositional approaches. Various movements in this set utilize such unusual compositional devices as elbow/forearm clusters, chromatic scales that span the range of the keyboard, serialism, extensive use of the sostenuto pedal, and improvisation. This document is divided into four chapters. The first chapter explains the history of Taiwan and its folk music, as well as the biography and style of the composer. The second chapter provides a detailed musical analysis of To An Isolated Island, including a discussion of how Chen combines Taiwanese folk materials and twentieth-century Western compositional techniques in the work. The third chapter focuses on Chen’s most recent solo piano piece, Treasure Box, in which Ke-Chia Chen experiments with specific compositional techniques and characteristics of the piano in each movement. The final chapter draws conclusions based on the findings of the document.

Subject Area

Musical composition|Music

Recommended Citation

Yu, Stephanie, "Solo Piano Works by Ke-Chia Chen: "To an Isolated Island" and "Treasure Box"" (2018). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI10979419.