From the American Enlightenment : (cantata for soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone and piano quintet on texts of Philip Freneau)



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From the American Enlightenment is a secular chamber cantata for soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone, and piano quintet, and it is based on the poetry of Philip Freneau. The overwhelming organizational principle of the music is the spiraling key relationships and their unfolding from sharp keys and their enharmonics (when the poetry deals with political radicalism) through to keys with more naturals in them (as the poetry begins to deal more with the cycle of life and naturalism), terminating on C major. Another localized organizational parameter concerns the specific musical motives (both motives of pitch and motives are rhythm) that are used in many guises throughout the work and that are used to construct themes, all with an eye toward unifying the musical materials over time and across movements. My analysis of the work deals with these two subjects as well as harmony and harmonic doubling, counterpoint, key centers within movements, and others as necessary. I will also discuss pre-existing works in various genres that influenced my piece. I begin the paper with background on the reasons for writing the piece, an outline of the American Enlightenment, and a brief discussion of the author of the texts, Philip Freneau.