Date of Graduation

2010

Document Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Abstract

From the appearance of Amaldeo Roldan’s Ritmica No. 5 and No. 6 in 1930 and Edgard Varese’s Ionisation in 1931, until the United States involvement in World War II brought a hiatus to the genre, over fifty works for percussion ensemble were published. At the height of this outpouring, two works for percussion ensemble on a similar cultural topic were written, Carlos Chavez’s Xochipilli: An Imagined Aztec Music (1940) and Lou Harrison’s The Song of Quetzalcoatl (1941). Within Chavez and Harrison’s titles are the names of two well-known and highly revered Aztec deities, Xochipilli and Quetzalcoatl. Consequently, this project determines to what extent these pieces draw from pre-Columbian Aztec indigenous musical methods, material, and instrumentation. A full analysis of both works identifies the various compositional techniques and musical elements of their respective composers. These components are then examined and compared to Aztec musical characteristics through three strains: (1) Archaeomusicology, (2) 16th century chronicles, (3) Survival in living traditions. Both Chavez and Harrison’s works are then compared to each other as to the extent of Aztec influence occurring in each, the extent each are representative of nationalistic and regional pieces, and each work’s contribution to the modern percussion ensemble.

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