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Abstract

What differentiates our experience of listening passively to music about which we are indifferent from listening actively to music which immerses us in its flow? For me, the difference lies in the participatory nature of active listening, in which the music is not merely happening at the listener but to the listener. I find this state of embodied, participatory listening to be especially challenging to cultivate in the field of new music, where an abundance of differing musical languages coupled with an emphasis on novelty and progress often leads to a detached and overly-cerebral mode of engagement from the listener. This piece represents my efforts to unify various facets of sound in order to imbue the listener with a sense of motion; to create sonic activities rather than sonic objects. To accomplish this I employ sounds with an inherent kinetic potential: sudden swells, fluctuating tempi, and a collection of energetic sonic brushstrokes which suggest a sense of motion. These sounds are embroidered onto a slowly-evolving harmonic grid which gradually awakens and transforms throughout the piece as a result of the inner motion inherent in its construction. This contrast of the Overall Image versus its Constituent Elements (or, more simply put, Big versus Small) is one of several dualities which I explore in this piece. Up versus Down, Forward versus Back, New versus Old, Predictable versus Surprising, Static versus Changing, and Trivial versus Profound were other dualities on my mind while composing this piece. A live recording of this work by the Civic Orchestra of Chicago is included as a supplementary file to this dissertation.

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