Publication Date

April 2019

Advisor(s)

Tyshawn Sorey

Major

Music

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

There has been little academic engagement with the work of Henry Threadgill, one of the most important composers of the past century. Despite his unique compositional sensibility and steady commitment to his aesthetic, his work has not received the attention it deserves. In the past decade, Threadgill has moved from the periphery to center stage as part of a larger re-evaluation of canonicity across genres. In my investigation of Threadgill’s music, I argue for an individualized hermeneutics attending to both the contextual and formal ways of making meaning. I explore the story of Threadgill’s early years, and trace a lineage all his own through the ensembles he has worked with. I then examine in detail the interval based system that forms the underpinnings for all of the compositions for his current group – Zooid. The lens I propose has implications for the future of the analytical project, and is part of a greater trend to engage the artist on their own terms.

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