Music and Dance Honors Theses
Musica Dementia: Exploring Music and the Mind Through Visual ArtHow does one learn what the symbols in a written piece signify? Is there a "best way" to learn? How can they mean the same to everyone who reads music? Is written music only a supplement to aural expression, or can it be an art and craft in itself? Questions like these are useful if one is to acquire an active, nonlinear view of the study of music, and more are presented here. This exhibition consists of a series of artworks, each done on a piece of music staff paper. Each one deconstructs and reformulates the European notation system, and is partially an expression of the processes involved in learning the "musical language." Reading and interpreting a piece of written music involves abstract thought, and playing in groups or to an audience requires fast synthesis of multiple levels of auditory, tactile, and stylistic considerations. The expert musician can even blend the lines between performance from memory and on-the-spot composition. The topics of each are usefully viewed in the light of the three kinds of music, as described by Deems Taylor in introducing Fantasia: "First, there's the kind that tells a definite story. Then there's the kind that while it has no specific plot, it does paint a series of more or less definite pictures. And then there's a third kind...that exists simply for its own sake." Put another way, there are pieces here whose underlying concepts are at the forefront. In the second category are those which ask more questions than they answer, and the third category is self-evident. While not at all a central tenet of this collection, this division into three types is a way of stating that art serves varying social functions. Meta-cognition and pedagogy are recurrent themes in that first category, wrapped in the artist's conviction that learning is a constant process of growth, which requires attention, care and upkeep. This belief is manifested in a tendency to turn notated symbols into objects from nature.
Remembering VoicesRemembering Voices is a recital designed with two parts, each centering around a different theme. The first section of the program honors traditions in the classical music realm with art songs and arias that are close to my heart. The preparation for this portion of the recital has been a lovely trip down memory lane where I have had ample opportunity to remember my voice from years prior. I have also had the opportunity to acknowledge its growth while at Salem State University as a result of working with esteemed vocal instructors. The second section remembers voices that were silenced throughout history, especially in the nineteenth and twentieth century as a result of antisemitism. It attempts to pay homage to the struggle endured by European Jews during this time as they were mistreated, silenced, faced discrimination and hate, and often had to flee their homes or convert to Christianity, as Mahler did. While I am not Jewish, I am very interested in Jewish culture and am committed to honoring the challenges faced by both Jewish composers and non-musicians. Through this commitment, interest, and admiration, I resolved to dedicate a portion of this recital to the works of Jewish composers and Jewish music out of respect for their suffering and their incredible contributions to the musical world. It is both for my remembering of my own voice and for the conscious remembering of silenced voices that this recital is entitled Remembering Voices. Remembering the voices of these marginalized people, and the voices of all other composers represented in the repertoire for this recital, is exactly what I intend to do.
La Mujer Pasiva Vs. La Mujer Activa: La Contradicción De Ideas Feministas En Las Obras De Pedro AlmodóvarThe nature of my thesis, La mujer pasiva vs. la mujer activa: la contradicción de ideas feministas en las obras de Pedro Almodóvar, is to determine with the feminist lens of Laura Mulvey whether Pedro Almodóvar can be considered a feminist director. By applying Mulvey’s theory in Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, this thesis analyzes the passive and active women within his films Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios, Volver, Todo sobre mi madre, Todo sobre mi madre, Hable con ella, and La piel que habito. As a woman who participates in popular culture of all types, I often notice the “types” of women portrayed throughout a variety of medias. The intention of this thesis is to understand and acknowledge how people of the media such as Almodóvar can both question and deconstruct patriarcal concepts such as the male gaze and other harmful misogynistic ideas.
Kelsey Griggs' Senior RecitalThe Music Department at Salem State University works hard to foster students into well-rounded musicians by the time they graduate. To showcase this, we are asked to complete an artistic project in the spring semester of our senior year. I chose to present a recital of thirty minutes of music alongside my friend and colleague Samantha Mansfield on April 10, 2017. I performed fifteen pieces of music, two of which were duets with my recital partner and one of which was a trio with my recital partner and one of our other senior music majors. Several of my pieces were an exploration into the world of atonal music, or music lacking a tonal center. Accompanying the performance was a program note for each of the pieces I performed with a background on each composer, a bio, and, for honors’ thesis purposes, a reflection of how it went and a guide to practicing music.