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Title: Chen Yi's piano music: Chinese aesthetics and Western models 
Author: Li, Xiaole
Date: 2003-08
Publisher: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Abstract: This dissertation is an interdisciplinary study of five solo piano pieces by Chen Yi (b. 1953), a leading Chinese-born American composer. Written between 1984 and 2000, these pieces reflect the social and musical movements in particular historical contexts. This research attempts to show how she merges Eastern and Western musical traditions, reflecting a trend toward cultural confluence. Chapter I states the purpose of the study, gives a historical review and a sketch of Chen Yi's life. After explaining my approach to this research, Chapter I introduces terms and concepts of Western and Chinese aesthetic thought, as well as Chinese modes. Chapter II briefly discusses selected Chinese piano compositions as a background and possible influences on Chen. The following chapters examine historical backgrounds of the works, the influences of Chinese aesthetics, such as naturalness and terseness of expression, the Yijing concept of change, and Western contemporary techniques, such as Bartok's polymodality and Schoenberg's twelve-tone method. The theoretical analysis discusses the structure, rhythms, pitch organization, and the sounds of the pieces. The hermeneutic aspects are discovered by investigating the composer's biographical materials and comparing the pieces. Chapter III analyzes the Two Chinese Bagatelles (Yu Diao, 1984 and Small Beijing Gong 1993, published in 2000 by Theodore Presser). Chapter IV offers a critical review of the writings on Duo Ye (1984) and an analysis from the above perspectives. Chapter V and VI analyze Chen's blending of Chinese aesthetic elements with Western techniques in Guessing and Ba Ban by applying both Chinese and Western music theories. Chapter VII summarizes the pieces in two groups: Yu Diao and Duo Ye represent Chen Yi's Chinese national style; Guessing is a transitional piece presenting changes in her style. Small Beijing Gong and Ba Ban represent her blending of East and West with her musical identity as a Chinese-born American composer. The conclusion also discusses Chen's innovations in developing piano music and some criticism of her compositions. From multiple perspectives, we may gain a better understanding of her music that actively interweaves Chinese and Western musical elements.
Description: xv, 380 leaves
Rights: All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.

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