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Urban Caricatures is a collection of portraits that reveal the gritty, hyper-realistic phenomena that dwell in urban settings. Here they are redrawn in a manner that augment their original sentiment. Their theatrical auras are exposed through the filters of distortion, over-dramatization, irony, disproportion, and sarcasm. It is divided into four caricatures: Urban Grind, The Lover, A Streetdancer, and Skyscrapers. Urban Grind represents not one character but many who are trapped in a relentless cycle of movement propelled by the monotonous demands of a city. It is a presto movement that channels both Bartókian string techniques and jazz and rock language. The opening motive unfolds through the technique of developing variations using the colors of the octatonic collection. It is further defined by the interweaving of the bebop scale and the blues scale within the collection, giving it the color and attitude of blue notes (b3, b5, b7). The strummed cords and snap pizzicatos are reminiscent of loud rock power chords and gestures that are played by street musicians across the city. Its opening theme constantly reappears in its original form representing a cycle of repetition that parallels the human activity accruing on city streets. The final moment of the movement fades out as the listener is slowly removed from the setting. The Lover is the only pseudo-programmatic movement telling the story of a person deeply in love with no reciprocation of that love. The opening motive is again generated from the octatonic collection, but with no blues or rock inflections. This motive unfolds through developing variations and gradually builds with broad and swooping gestures attempting to reach the ultimate moment, even though it is out of reach. A chorus of sarcastic and taunting laughter around a strained solo cello sets the realization of unreciprocated love. A Streetdancer captures the energy of a break-dancer performing in the subway stations. It is an ostinato-driven pizzicato movement that utilizes polyrhythms and change of feel, which parallels the acrobatic moves of street dancers. The octatonic collection has taken a passive role against the blues gestures and colors that drive the thematic material. The climax is reached with an explosion of arco strings and blues-infused motives. Skyscrapers is the depiction of one person against an entire forest of concrete. The opening motive is over powered by the stacked fifths that surround it. The main motive reemerges throughout the piece as different perspectives of the same image. It is only fully digested when the viewer looks at it from the distance. This piece is dedicated first and foremost to my parents. Without their support and infinite patients my studies would not be possible. I would also like to thank my teachers Dr. Ladislav Kubik and Dr. David Gillingham. I would not have grown without you. Last I would like to send a special thanks to my committee members. Their guidance has helped to crystallize my thought processes. Performance Note: This piece was written with the concept of amplification as a vital concept to its aesthetic. It is possible to play the piece without amplification, but only if there are no other options. To achieve amplification, performers can use a stringed instrument with mounted pickups, or attach a transducer on the body where it works best. Both can be plugged into an amplifier, such as one designed for a guitar. Do not use microphones.
21st Century Art Music, Eclectic Art Music
Date of Defense
Date of Defense: October 20, 2006.
A Thesis submitted to the College of Music In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Music.
Includes bibliographical references.
Florida State University
Ash, R. D. (2006). Urban Caricatures for String Quartet or Amplified String Quartet. Retrieved from http://purl.flvc.org/fsu/fd/FSU_migr_etd-0243