Music, School of


Date of this Version

Fall 12-2010


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Music, Major: Music, Under the Supervision of Professor Gretchen C. Foley. Lincoln, Nebraska: December 2010
Copyright 2010 by Christopher Kyle Sweitzer


The Sonata For Alto Saxophone and Piano Op. 19 is one of the most popular pieces in the saxophone literature, commonly played by professional saxophonists during their training. It features exciting rhythmic devices like irregular and mixed meter, the notation of which is the main focus of this paper. Although Creston often used irregular and mixed meter in his compositions, he rarely specifically notated them, choosing instead to use accents, beams, slurs, and other phenomenal cues at the musical surface to create the effect of these metric plans. Time signatures often remained constant throughout entire movements. Creston believed this would ease performers reading burden by using the barlines as nothing more than measured markers of the underlying pulse stream, leaving them free to focus on more pertinent aspects of the music. I have termed this idea as meter-as-measure, and is central to Creston's rhythmic theories. Contemporary theories of rhythm and meter based in cognition do not support the meter- as-measure hypothesis, however, and publishers typically show irregular and mixed meters through notation of changing time signatures.

The main purpose of this thesis is to create a new score of the Sonata to reflect the meter inherent in the phenomenal cues of the musical surface, thereby restoring the power of the barline to convey the metrical structure of the work to performers. Lerdahl and Jackendoff's theory of metrical structures from A Generative Theory of Tonal Music is used as a basis for parsing the rhythms at the musical surface, providing a theoretical framework for the rebarring. Many passages with difficult-to-interpret metrical structure are discussed in detail and reproduced as examples.