Date of Award


Document Type




First Reader

Dr. Bruce Johnston

Second Reader

Dr. Patrick Houlihan

Third Reader

Dr. Johnny Wink


The central concept of this thesis all started in March of 2018, when a friend of mine recommended I listen to Joni Mitchell's album, Blue. I loved it immediately. There was something raw and honest about the words she wrote and something fresh about the melodies. Nothing was forced; everything was natural. Not only did I love it, but the melodies constantly swimming around in my head started to sound similar in style. The recitative-like rhythms and the flowing melodies had worked their way into my head. So I started to wonder- how can I use this in my art?

I have always learned by imitating. In every aspect of my education, I always look for an example before I continue in my own way. Why not do the same in creating music? In his autobiography, Mark Twain said: "There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages."

Put simply, everything is derivative. So I set out to write and produce the album which accompanies this thesis, Heirs to Those Before Us. I did this by imitating four artists whose harmonic and lyrical style I felt were compatible with my own.

In selecting my models, I tried to choose a well-rounded variety. I chose two late 20th century and two contemporary writers, one male and one female of each. Each of them has a different personal background. Each of them has a distinct process of writing. In the following pages, I will include:

1. a short biography of each artist-- Joni Mitchell, George Ezra, Regina Spektor, and Billy Joel;

2. a description of each of the writing process for each song;

3. and a description of the production process.

Included in

Composition Commons



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