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; composition; contemporary art music; avant-garde; modern music; symphonic song


The symphonic song, Mabalel, as presented here, is an extract from a larger composition that also forms part of a greater trilogy of songs on South African texts. Throughout the three texts in the trilogy, themes of nature, pre-civilization society, and African tragedies create unification between the works. In Mabalel, a young native South African girl is sent to get water for her village from the river, when she is unexpectedly attacked by Lalele, a crocodile. The beauty of this text not only lies in its metaphorical representation of the (most often unjust) difficulties and tragedies faced daily by rural, impoverished, disadvantaged, and defenceless South Africans, but also in the incredibly artistic articulation of Mabalel’s story through the prose. Presented here is the former half of the complete poem. As is typical in symphonic songs, the work centres around the voice and the text that the voice shares with the audience. The orchestration and motivic material are designed to best serve and articulate the vocal line. At times, the orchestra takes the form of a protagonistic converser that enables the voice to blossom over it. This is contrasted by sections where the voice conflicts with the orchestra, constantly fighting for the listener’s attention. Compositional elements are chosen specifically for their ability to best reflect the affekt, rhetoric, and intent of the prose.

Included in

Composition Commons