David Maslanka: His life, works, and an analytical overview of Crown of thorns




Calhoun, Courtni Diane

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I first became a fan of David Maslanka's music upon performing several of his works during my undergraduate studies at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. I found that his music has a real, perceptible sense of energy and forward drive, with haunting melodies and emotionally provocative harmonies. Though I am not a percussionist, the keyboard percussion ensemble Crown of Thorns sparked my interest when I listened to it for the first time in spring of 2010 and decided to use the piece for a class project. As I researched the piece, I discovered that writings on this piece were few, and I could find none that provided an in-depth harmonic analysis. This being the case, I set out to examine the harmonic structure and language of Crown of Thorns, aiming to answer the following questions: What is the nature of the harmonies used, how are harmonies in succession related, and what properties are present that cause the piece sound definitively tonal despite of the lack of "functional" harmony? This thesis is not intended to be a measure-by-measure analysis, but rather to find a suitable explanation for harmonic relationships and to identify aspects of "function" distinct from functional tonality of the Common Practice Era. In the initial chapter, an overview of biographical information is included, as well as a complete works list organized categorically and alphabetically. Devices from both diatonic tonal music and post-tonal music will be discussed in Chapter 2 in preparation for the subsequent analytical discussions of Crown of Thorns presented in Chapters 3 and 4.



percussion ensembles, harmonic analysis


Calhoun, C. D. (2011). David Maslanka: His life, works, and an analytical overview of Crown of thorns (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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