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Musical form in Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Bigler, Nathan Robert (2018) Musical form in Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Masters thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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Hymn singing is an integral part of both congregational and private worship for millions across the globe. While hymns have been the subject of research regarding history, origins, and cultural influence, there has been very little research regarding musical forms and harmonic structures found in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Protestant hymns. In discussing form, many theory texts describe the bulk of modern hymn music as “strophic.” Using William Caplin’s text Classical Form (1998) as a model of analytical techniques and principles, this thesis examines the Mormon collection Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1985) and reveals that “strophic” is too narrow a label for an entire hymnal. Four formal models and one harmonic structure emerge. Each is identified by specific musical characteristics (illustrated using hymn examples), and together these five structures encompass a majority of the 341 hymns in the hymnal. Chapter 1 gives a brief historical review of Protestant hymn development and of the LDS hymnal. Chapter 2 discusses the analytical methods used in this study. Chapter 3 introduces the two smaller multi-phrase models: the “small-scale model” that manifests as any of several variations of an aaba phrase structure; and the “two-phrase model” that manifests as an extremely compact binary structure. Chapter 3 also introduces the “standard harmonic structure” that circumscribes expository, transitional, developmental, and closing/cadential harmonic functions across a single hymn. Chapter 4 introduces the two larger sectional models (made up of phrase groups): the “verse-chorus model” that manifests as a sectional binary form with distinctive musical characteristics in each half; and the “large-scale model” that encompasses all other sectional hymns. There are dozens of ways individual hymns can manifest the characteristics of one model or another, and much of the interest of studying hymns is found in discovering that within these five structures the hymns exhibit an abundance of structural variety, creativity, and interest. Chapter 5 examines ways that many hymns stretch the model boundaries, exhibit formal trends outside the model boundaries, or largely defy formal categorization based on the four models and the standard harmonic structure outlined in this study.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: Form; Hymn; Latter-day Saints; Mormon; Music theory; Communication in the arts; Religion and theology; Philosophy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of Arts and Letters > School of Music
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2018 00:55
URI: http://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5405

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