Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Stephen E. Young

Committee Members

Guy A Borkman, George F. DeVine


The purpose of this thesis is to examine the aesthetic within which avant-garde musicians are composing and show the reflection of this aesthetic in selected avant-garde works. Writings by and about avant-garde composers and about their works were collected and collated. Writings about the avant-garde in artistic disciplines other than music were also examined. From these writings was distilled, in the first chapter of the thesis, an elucidation and summarization of the aesthetic of the avant-garde in music.

Various compositions printed in Source: Music of the Avant-Garde were selected for examination. In the second chapter, exegeses of the works are made, vis-à-vis the aesthetic described in the previous chapter.

The main points of the aesthetic were found to be the avant-garde acceptance and use of chance and indeterminacy, the avoidance of critical judgements, the relaxed attitude toward form and structure, the concern with subjectivism (art as life and freedom in art), the use of theatricality and concomitant merging of the arts, the breakdown of the established composer/performer/audience relationship, and the consideration that the process of making music is more important than the product made.

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