Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Music Composition

Degree Program

Music with a concentration in Music Composition, MM

Committee Chair

Rouse, Steve

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Satterwhite, Marc

Committee Member

Lloyd, Kimcherie


Les Catacombes and Notre Dame de Paris: two places that hold my most vivid memories of Paris, but these two places are also inextricably related. Notre Dame de Paris was built from limestone extracted from mines beneath Paris–mines that eventually became the ossuaries known today as the Catacombes. In depleting stone from the ground, cavernous and cathedrallike spaces were created beneath Paris while a cathedral rose toward the heavens on the Île de la Cité. In a way, two cathedrals were built: one a negative image of the other above. Dess(o)us Paris captures the duality of these opposite cathedrals, with the first movement relating to the Catacombes, and the second to Notre Dame de Paris. The depiction of the Catacombes draws upon their original role as limestone mines, particularly upon the gradual depletion of minerals from the earth. “130 Pas Au-Dessus” is a passacaglia, divided into five sections. In each section, the ground bass is presented in its entirety but loses a tone with each sectional repetition. In the first section there is only one repetition and one tone lost. But in the final section, five repetitions strip the ground bass down to three pitches left to echo in the cavernous space that remains. “La Cathédrale Au-Dessous” draws from my own personal experience with Notre Dame de Paris, conveying a vague narrative. The music begins around the pavilion of the cathedral, bells ringing in the background. Tonal grounding is abandoned as the listener spirals up the unending stairs to the bell towers, eventually emerging into the exuberance and awe of Paris from above. The amazement, however, succumbs to fear after making the mistake of peering down the height of the bell tower. A sudden bout of acrophobia sends the listener in a frenzy back down the spiral staircase to the pavilion, where the music regains its composure as the last bursts of gold, orange, and crimson fade to the purples and blues of dusk.

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