To Pernambuco with Love for Wind Symphony; String Quartet No. 1; Maco Light for Bass Clarinet and Prerecorded Electronics; and Educating for Composition Creativity

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The structure of this dissertation comprises an introduction and four chapters, which contain three original musical compositions and one article. The first composition is a piece for wind symphony, the second one works with a string quartet, and the third explores the bass clarinet and electronics combination. The article comprises research on musical composition creativity and its pedagogical possibilities.

Chapter 1, “To Pernambuco with Love for Wind Symphony,” is a three-movement composition written as a tribute to the people of Pernambuco, one of the most musical and creative Brazilian states. During its 18 minutes, the piece explores some regional genres, such as the traditional Frevo and Maracatú, as well as the contemporary Maguebeat style. The first movement addresses the historical development of Frevo “Fanfarras” and “Orquestras,” which are musical ensemble sculpted in the roots of Pernambucan culture. The second movement still deals with Frevo. It starts with a percussion interlude, very common during frevo parades, followed by another particular manifestation of this genre: the clash of the bands. Different bands start to parade at different places in Pernambuco, in particular in its capital, Recife, and a surrounding city, Olinda. Eventually, some of those bands cross each other and start a beautiful sound battle to entice the people who were following the other band. Finally, the third movement expresses my personal admiration for Maracatú and Manguebeat. The former, a genre strongly connected with its Afro-Brazilian roots with a very characteristic complex percussive pattern. The latter, a genre born in the 1990s which expresses very well how people in Brazil cope with cultural globalization: they adjust any international cultural commodity to Brazilian unique flavors and roots.

The chapter 2, “String Quartet No. 1,” is a 19-minute piece that explores the traditional instrumentation of this ensemble with non-traditional musical material. Thus, the sonic result of the use of the digital delay effect inspires the first movement of this piece. Although there was no used resource other than the traditional instruments, the piece intends to emulate this and other effects acoustically. It works as a kind of stylized canon, with different dynamic layers. The second movement explores the sonorities derived from the amplitude modulation and frequency modulation synthesis. The complex harmonic result of such manipulations leads the group to represent it in complex chords with quarter-tone intervals. The last movement explores a Brazilian marginalized urban musical genre called Funk Carioca. It is inspired by the rhythmic and overall sonic quality of the genre, which encompasses some characteristic sounds provided by analogic drum machines that are represented by the string quartet instruments.

Chapter 3 presents the piece “Maco Light,” a piece for bass clarinet and prerecorded electronics that lasts exactly 7 minutes and 41 seconds. This piece is named after a North Carolinian legend originated in 1867. The railroad conductor Joe Baldwin died in a tragic train accident. Few weeks after this event people started to see apparitions of mysterious lights close to where the accident happened, the Maco station. This phenomenon, real or not, was reported dozens of times until the 1970s when Maco station was closed. Thus, this piece explores this story and uses the electronics to manipulate train sounds that engage in constant dialogue with the bass clarinet and with the story behind the music.

In chapter 4, the article “Educating for Composition Creativity” exposes how musical improvisation skills can be beneficial to the development of creative compositional strategies. It argues that improvisation should be part of the composition curriculum for college students and a particular subject in composition textbooks. Through an intense literature review in the fields of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Composition Pedagogy, this chapter makes evident that improvisation can allow different kinds of insights to happen during the compositional task. In particular, we used a framework that establishes three different modes of cognitive processing for creativity: deliberate, spontaneous, and flow mode. The neuroscientific evidence is thus interpreted over this framework which allowed the proposition of different strategies in coping creativity, depending on how well-defined or not the objective of a compositional work is.






Ferreira de Mello Pinto, Yahn Wagner (2019). To Pernambuco with Love for Wind Symphony; String Quartet No. 1; Maco Light for Bass Clarinet and Prerecorded Electronics; and Educating for Composition Creativity. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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