College - Author 1

College of Liberal Arts

Department - Author 1

Music Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BA in Music



Primary Advisor

Meredith Brammeier, College of Liberal Arts, Music Department


Program Notes

Dar Luz, a Spanish phrase which means “to give light” or “to give birth,” considers the interconnection of motives through a cumulative form. Though this piece is divided into three sections based on tonality—octatonic, minor, and major—each section contains motivic reflections and refractions from other sections.

The introduction’s mysterious melody leads into the first section of the piece, which incorporates octatonic scales and is in ABACA or rondo form. The refrains (A) and episodes (B and C) of the rondo explore the intervallic content of the introduction’s melody; the subsequent minor and major sections continue this compositional technique. The piece’s conclusion is a combination of material from all three sections: after presenting two melodies, the end of the major section combines these melodies using counterpoint, after which the coda unites fragments from the minor section’s introduction with material from the octatonic section.

Bell chords, characteristic of barbershop quartets, are featured prominently throughout this piece: trombones enter in succession, each entrance ringing like a bell, and sustain each pitch to create a chord.[1] Not only does this effect build dissonance, it also creates rhythmic interest and embedded melodies that propel the piece forward. The refrains of the octatonic section employ this technique, ascending the octatonic scale during two crescendos that create waves of sound leading into each episode. In addition to its change in tonality, the beginning of the minor section is marked by a descending bell chord, with each entrance at a forte dynamic, creating a brilliant effect. At the conclusion of this section, the introduction’s mysterious melody returns, accompanied by a jazz progression that foreshadows the following major section.

Beginning with a quotation of “The Girl From Ipanema,” the song-like major section recontextualizes and develops the minor section’s main melody using a compound duple meter and features jazz harmonies that would not be foreign to Antônio Carlos Jobim, Brazilian popular musician and composer of the quoted material. While the bass trombones play the lyrical melody, the tenor trombones accompany with arpeggiated jazz harmonies, using descending bell chords that evoke the introduction of the minor section.

The title is of sentimental and symbolic value: I address my grandfather as Dar and my grandmother’s name is Luz. Together, not only do their names mean to give light, they have given life to me through my parents.

[1] Averill, Gage (2003). Four Parts, No Waiting: A Social History of American Barbershop Harmony, 205.

Dar Luz for Eight Trombones.mp4 (135996 kB)



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