Date of Award
Dr. Bruce Johnston
Dr. Patrick Houlihan
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.
Saunders, Hannah, "Heirs to Those Before us: An Exploration of the Influences on a Young Artist" (2019). Honors Theses. 738.