Music Publications and Other Works

Seasons for a Cynic: A Compositional Process Utilizable for a Program Symphony

David Anthony Pegel, University of Tennessee - Knoxville


The technique of symphonic composition requires a deliberate and methodical process by the composer; when the symphony is intended to aesthetically convey a specific subject matter, the compositional process must become even more deliberate. First a subject must be chosen and examined in a contemporary standpoint. Then the composer must determine how to reflect this subject through his or her composing. Ideally, the end result of this composition should encompass the subject matter as thoroughly as possible. While the great majority of textbooks on music theory and composition centralize themselves on elements of pitch in music, the composer has many other elements to consider, notably rhythm, texture, timbre, and form. These elements – be they working independently of one another, supporting one another, or at odds with one another – can be influenced by a wide variety of both traditional and developmental artistic movements. Oftentimes, a composer may find it ideal to synthesize both older techniques of one element with newer techniques in another.

This synthesis was the objective in composing a modern program symphony based on the four seasons. Emulating different styles and affects of the twentieth century, this work aimed to synthesize both older and newer techniques. This thesis explains in detail the compositional process used for this program symphony.