Degree Name

Master of Music

Department or Program



Stemper, Frank


Using a semiotic approach as a unifying thread grew naturally out of the literature I chose for my recital. The first piece, Evan Ziporyn’s solo clarinet work Four Impersonations, is a set of four transcriptions of music from other cultures. In each movement, the clarinet signifies a different set of cultural codes. The second piece, Louis Spohr’s Sechs deutsche Lieder, op. 103, is for clarinet, piano, and soprano. In this work, Spohr uses the clarinet to signify emotions and characters alluded to in the text. Following the Spohr is another work including voice, though of a fundamentally different nature. Jacob ter Veldhuis’ GRAB IT! for bass clarinet and boombox utilizes voice samples of life convicted prisoners. He generates melody and rhythm from speech, and creates a narrative by weaving together electronics and bass clarinet. Fourth on my recital is Darius Milhaud’s Duo Concertant, op. 351. This work is unlike the others in that it does not have a specific program or text attached to it. Instead, Duo Concertant becomes a study in music’s ability to signify itself. Ending my recital is Eric Mandat’s The Moon in My Window. A work overflowing with individuality borne out of Mandat’s improvisations, The Moon in My Window illustrates music’s ability to signify not only performance experience, but even personality traits of the composer. Semiotic concepts are introduced and then applied throughout, including a general semiotic theory conceived by Umberto Eco, and a music semiotic theory developed by Jean-Jacques Nattiez.