Music, School of


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A Doctoral Document Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Musical Arts, Major: Music, Under the Supervision of Professor David C. Neely
Lincoln, Nebraska: March, 2010
Copyright 2010 Xiang He.


This document is a study of the violin and piano pieces, Fisherman’s Song (1979) and Romance of Hsiao and Ch’in (1998), by the leading Chinese-born American composer, Chen Yi (b.1953). The two pieces are representative works of Chen Yi’s Chinese (college) period and American period respectively. Through detailed analysis, comparisons, and consultation with Dr. Chen Yi, the document attempts to reveal Chen Yi’s stylistic changes caused by the Western influences.

Chapter One provides a brief summary of the changes of compositional style throughout five generations of Chinese composers (from 1920s to present), which resulted from Western influences. Chapter Two examines the historical backgrounds of and analyzes two Fisherman’s Songs: one by Chen Yi, a fifth-generation composer, and one by Li Zili, a fourth-generation composer. The stylistic similarities resulted from their Chinese roots, and differences caused by different levels of Western influences are discovered. Chapter Three investigates Chen Yi’s professional experience and stylistic change after college as the historical background of composing Romance of Hsiao and Ch’in, and then analyzes the work. Through the comparison to Fisherman’s Song, the changes of compositional approach in Romance of Hsiao and Ch’in resulted from her experiences in the United States are discussed, and their significant meaning to the Chinese-Western “fusion” is explained. The conclusion summarizes the changing course of Chen Yi’s compositional style caused by the ever-growing force of Western influences in her life, and evaluates the significance of her approach of the Chinese-Western fusion with respect to a new era of it and an enrichment of the world’s inter-cultural music.

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