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An examination of Cowell's musical aesthetic found in his critical articles and essays is necessary in approaching his compositions, many of which push against mainstream compositional currents of their day. According to Henry Cowell, experimentation and innovation were the special province of American modernist composers who needed a way to distance themselves from European values. The purpose of this thesis is twofold. First, it is an examination of the relationship between Henry Cowell's critical writing and his many disparate compositional styles, with the aim of untangling his complex musical aesthetic within its proper historical context. Consequently, the paper will also illuminate certain key issues with which Cowell remained engaged throughout his life, and to show how his thinking surrounding these issues changes over the course of his career. A contemporaneous critical analysis of Cowell's written advocacy and musical compositions is broken into chronological periods that span his entire career, showing his changing philosophies surrounding key issues.