Music, School of


Date of this Version

Summer 7-30-2014


A DISSERTATION 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 Eric Richards. Lincoln, Nebraska: July, 2014

Copyright (c) 2014 Kara Leigh Baxter


On This Journey: Suite for Big Band and Five Voices is a four-movement, programmatic work that explores traditional big band instrumentation with the addition of five voices used as instruments. Violin and cello are added in the last two movements.

This is the story of a journey, with each movement representing a phase of that journey. The first movement, Charmed with Possibilities, is a musical representation of Chicago. During the improvisation solos, the time moves fluidly between a measure of six and five. The meter and key change often, evoking a sense of the ever-changing city.

The second movement, Stop, Time represents a devastating car accident and the recovery in the hospital. A drum solo opens, with a crescendo into a fortissimo band chord, representing the crash. The voices come in softly in falling figures in seconds. The band sets the frantic tempo that drives the rest of the movement, representing the chaos, confusion and challenges of the time in the hospital.

The third movement, Take Me Back brings in the colors of violin and cello. This movement is slow, and is a musical representation of the sadness experienced while recovering from the accident, and the realization and finally acceptance that one’s life is forever changed by the actions of someone else. There is a sense of longing and incompleteness created musically by unresolved suspensions and constant duplets against triplets.

The final movement, Go Ahead Now, represents recovery, moving forward, finding joy and excitement in life once again. The meter is a hybrid of 6/8 and 3/4, and has a sweeping, flowing sense of motion. The active texture includes motivic melodies.

Throughout the Suite, timbre was explored using a variety of mutes in the brass, with flutes, clarinets and bass clarinet in the reed section. The voices are paired with different instruments to alter the timbre, while also being used as the main melodic instrument. The effect is that of blended timbral colors, orchestral in sound.

Adviser: Eric Richards

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