Storytelling in the piano studio
Wu, Crystal W.
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The purpose of this study is to explore the integration of narrative analysis into the lessons of pre-college level piano students. The advanced theoretical analysis of musical narrative will be made applicable to pre-college piano students at various levels of understanding. This idea was inspired by Jerome Bruner’s concept of a spiral curriculum. Students will not necessarily be familiar with all of the intricacies and terms used in narrative analysis, but they can be taught to recognize the basic requirements of narrative analysis. The repertoire that is used in this dissertation is limited to mostly intermediate level repertoire appropriate for pre-college level piano students. Chapter 1 discusses the relevant aspects of music and meaning that will be needed to understand the analyses that follow. The study primarily uses the narratological approach of Byron Almén but also draws on the semiotic approach of Robert Hatten. Chapter 2 introduces the first stage of narrative analysis by recognizing marked moments and oppositions in several pieces from intermediate level repertoire. The next four chapters provide complete narrative analyses using Byron Almén’s theory of musical narrative. Chapter 3 uses Beethoven’s Für Elise to illustrate a tragic archetype, and Chapter 4 examines a romance archetype using Schumann’s “Träumerei.” Chapters 5 and 6 provide analyses of the more complex ironic and comic archetypes, using the first movement of Mozart’s Piano Sonata in C Major, K. 545 to illustrate irony and the last movement of Mozart’s Piano Sonata in A Major, K. 331 to illustrate comedy. Chapter 7 presents a complete analysis of a romance narrative using an advanced-level piece, the first movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 81a. A summary and conclusion is provided in the final chapter. The research and analysis undertaken in this dissertation show a variety of ways in which narrative analysis can be used as a tool for students, teachers, and performers.