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Music of the Divine: Interweaving Threads Connecting Contemporary Chant-Based Piano Repertoire

Jeremy D Duck, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The purpose of this document is to prove chant remains an important source of inspiration among living composers, and, despite the number of piano works already incorporating chant, composers today are still finding unique ways to include chant in their music. To achieve this objective, representative works have been selected for research and analysis for four of the major chant traditions. Connor Chee’s The Navajo Piano, Victoria Bond’s Illuminations on Byzantine Chant, and Hayes Biggs’ E.M. am Flügel: Poem-Étude for Piano Solo, though the chants from which they are inspired are diverse in concept and style, they share many similarities, even in each composer’s pursuit of different goals. As such, this document will also be presenting connections in these works’ style characteristics and compositional techniques within this diverse corner of the chant-based piano literature.This paper will begin by defining the scope of music which is considered for this document’s purposes to be chant-based, placing it in the context of composers inspired by music of the past. Then, there will be an overview of some of the composers whose music has already been discussed in the literature. The following chapters will each discuss the three works, giving some theoretical and historical information on that particular chant tradition with the exception of Gregorian chant as it is already studied within the music degree, analyzing how each composer utilized the chant in their music, and comparing each work with the previous works discussed. The concluding chapter includes a brief summary of the previous chapters and then mentions a number of chant-based pieces that have been discussed very little, if at all, in the literature. It is the hope of the author to, in addition to contributing to the knowledge of chant-based piano literature, inspire students, teachers, performers, and researchers to take an interest in this underplayed music.

Subject Area

Music|Music theory|Music history

Recommended Citation

Duck, Jeremy D, "Music of the Divine: Interweaving Threads Connecting Contemporary Chant-Based Piano Repertoire" (2023). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI30813233.