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)

Lloyd, Kimcherie

Committee Member

Lloyd, Kimcherie

Committee Member

Wolek, Krzysztof

Author's Keywords

music; song; song set; kenny chaffin


The title of this work, Given time… is meant to be less like a traditional title and more like the beginning of a deep thought. Time is one of those things that I think humans just don’t understand and don’t give very much thought to, especially considering how much time has already passed and how much time left there is in the universe. Where does space and time end? And where do we (or I) fit in all of it? Does everything I do have any lasting impact on the eternal scheme of things? The list of questions goes on seemingly forever, but pondering them has always been stirring to me. Setting some of these thoughts and feelings to music was a new challenge that I loved every step of the way. This work sets three poems by Kenny A. Chaffin. Several more of his poems were selected to be included in the work at a later date. Each poem introduces a new way of looking at or thinking about the vastness of the universe, the endlessness of time, and in some cases, our potential impact or fate as a human race. “And They All Danced” is about an incomprehensibly slow dance that has gone on for billions of years and will continue to go on forever. It is the dance of the galaxies as they move, twirl around, and sometimes collide with each other. The music is slow but filled with anxious anticipation. It is meant to give the impression of something small and docile, yet enormous and powerful at the same time—just like the drifting galaxies through space. There are a couple moments in the music where I imagined an extremely slow “downbeat” as if we were listening to the dance music of the universe slowed down by a thousand times—or is it sped up? “Seeking Contact” comes from mankind’s current perspective and relationship with the universe. For decades now we have been probing the galaxy and listening for any kind of a response. It reflects our innate desire to answer the question—are we alone in the universe? As Arthur C. Clarke famously said, “both [answers] are equally terrifying.” The music reflects our persistent effort to reach out in search of life beyond this planet and possibly a hint of apprehension at finding out the answer. “Millions of Years from Now” is an attempt to reflect the thoughts of someone living millions of years from now as they remember their solar system of origin. After having populated the rest of the Milky Way and beyond, would we look back with fondness or disdain? I imagine the speaker of this poem as a spoiled and distracted twenty-something living millions of years in the future who’s decided that the new, cool, retro thing is the Oort Cloud—a spherical shell of icy objects that exist in the outermost reaches of our solar system.

Included in

Composition Commons