Lori Laitman: the influence of prosody on melodic content, accompaniment, and form in the songs "will there really be a `morning'?" and "dear march"

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The process by which an art song composer writes is central in understanding his or her artistic persona. It is through the recognition of this process that we see the creative principles in each artist. For composer Lori Laitman, an emotional response to the words is the first step in her process. This response includes an awareness of the formal structure of a poem as well as attention to the natural word stress and dramatic delivery of each phrase. Therefore, the fundamental properties of her songs--melody, accompaniment and form-- are determined by the text. Laitman has set the poetry of Emily Dickinson with frequency throughout her career. Therefore, in order to explore Laitman's compositional process and artistic persona this document will study two of her Dickinson settings, "Will There Really Be A Morning'?" and "Dear March" with a particular interest in the formal organization and melodic design of the songs in relation to meter, word and phrase inflection, and overall character in the poems. Following a brief introduction, Chapter Two presents an overview of Laitman's musical education and experiences. While studying for a performance degree at Yale University, she took a course in film composition. This proved to be a pivotal experience for Laitman as she was exposed to the many facets of dramatic music, in particular, understanding mood in text and communicating that mood through music. The next chapter explores the writing style of Emily Dickinson with a focus on verse patterns and punctuation as well as the aphoristic qualities of her poetry. The purpose of this chapter is to reveal significant attributes of Emily Dickinson's writing style, which influence Laitman's musical interpretations. Chapter Four provides an examination of Laitman's musical settings, "Will There Really Be A Morning'?" and "Dear March." The analyses will focus on melodic construction and form in relation to the structure of the poem. Finally, in order to further define Laitman's style, Chapter Five will include a comparative study of her settings with musical settings of the same poems by Aaron Copland ("Dear March") and Richard Hundley ("Will There Really Be A Morning?").

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