Date of Award
Master of Music
AN ABSTRACT OF THE THESIS OF CHRISTOPHER MITCHELL, for the Master of Music degree in COMPOSITION, presented on MAY 7, 2012, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. TITLE: ATROPHY FOR ORCHESTRA MAJOR PROFESSOR: Dr. Frank Stemper In early 2010, I became inspired to compose a piece of music for orchestra. First, there were several items to consider. I had to decide whether to write for a rather large orchestra, a normal size orchestra or a smaller sized, chamber orchestra. Up until this point I had yet to write an orchestral composition. Indeed, there are multiple aspects to not only composing for a massive group of instruments, but also a way in which to treat methods of orchestration. For the purposes of this composition, I chose to utilize the forces found within a regular sized orchestra. Rather than using standard orchestral writing for the strings, I chose to use a method known as "divisi," an Italian abbreviation for the sub-division of the string section. Each string section (Violins, Violas, Cellos and Double-basses) are divided into multiple sections, thus creating a larger palette of timbres. Conceptually speaking, I was inspired by the idea of theme and timbre. I wanted to make timbres thematic. To begin the composition, the main theme is presented by a flute solo. Gradually, the remaining woodwinds along with the french horn section begin to "morph" the theme. Over the course of the composition, timbres in all three sections (woodwinds, brass, strings) begin to disintegrate the original theme presented by the flute. This is where the title "Atrophy" originated.
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