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Undergraduate Research


As a student at the Louisiana Scholars' College from August 2009 to May 2013, Jackson was expected to write many research papers and essays for music courses as well as the other classes that made up his rounded Liberal Arts education. Jackson always took great care to write his papers to the highest standards, and today is proud of these undergraduate accomplishments. Below you will find a selection of the paper topics Jackson wrote about during his undergraduate career complete with abstracts. More recent scholarly writings can be found at the Graduate Research and Program Notes pages.

Titles & Abstracts:

Learning from the Past: The Influence of Johann Sebastian Bach upon the Soviet Composers.

Undergraduate Thesis completed for the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Liberal Arts.

Defended April 10, 2013.  Submitted April 30, 2013.


Abstract: Expected to adhere to the strict dictates of Socialist Realism, many Soviet composers found refuge and salvation in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, incorporating its influence into their own compositions in a variety of ways. Composers key to this movement include Dmitri Shostakovich, Arvo Pärt, Alfred Schnittke, and Sofia Gubaidulina. In his fight against Stalin, Shostakovich invoked Bach’s aid by employing the forms, genres, and conventions of his Baroque predecessor. Later, Pärt and Schnittke would represent Bach as the only possible victor in the ideological battle between the Soviet Union’s official policy of conservatism and the encroaching avant-garde. More recently, Gubaidulina has attempted to parallel the balance she perceives in Bach’s music between its intellectual and intuitive aspects. Ultimately, for many composers forced to work under the totalitarianism of Socialist Realism, the legacy of Bach proved to be both an invaluable refuge from oppression and a vital source for new inspiration.


Outline: Introduction: Bach and the Potential for Influence; 1. Shostakovich, Stalinist Repression, and Bach; 2. Bach and the Soviet Avant-Garde During the Thaw and its Aftermath (a. Shostakovich and the Official Adoption of Serialism; b. The Development of Polystylism: Early Compositions of Pärt and Schnittke; c. The Maturation of Polystylism: Further Compositions by Schnittke); 3. Intellect, Intuition, and Mysticism - Bach and Gubaidulina; Conclusion: Bach and the Quest to Recapture Meaning in Soviet Music; Appendix: The Western Avant-Garde Prior to and Immediately Following World War II; Bibliography.


The Battle Between Experimentalism and Populism and its Effect Upon the Fate of Soviet Music.

Submitted for "Major Figures in History: Joseph Stalin" on May 1, 2013.


Abstract: In the aftermath of the October Revolution, the fate of Soviet music remained undecided. While both progressives and conservatives agreed that music had to appeal to the newly liberated proletarian masses, they disagreed about how this goal might be accomplished. On one side, progressives argued that music should remain on the modernist path that it had begun to take prior to the revolution for this music would appeal to the true proletariat that had yet to emerge. On the other side, conservatives argued for a musical language that would appeal to the proletariat in its present state. While the former ideology won tremendous support at first, the latter proved victorious and became the foundation for the policy of Socialist Realism.


Leonard Bernstein:  Advocate of American Music.

Submitted for "American Music" on April 22, 2013.


Abstract: A gifted conductor, composer, and teacher, Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) devoted a considerable amount of his energies in each of these three realms to the promotion of American music. As a conductor, he brought the music of America’s most talented composers to wider audiences than ever before. As a composer, he integrated all aspects of American music into a language open to all Americans. As a teacher, he fostered music appreciation among the general public and mentored numerous young conductors. Ultimately, in each of these vocations, Leonard Bernstein enthusiastically advocated American music in hopes that others would come to the same realization that he had: that this country was as capable as any of producing a vigorous music culture.


Polish Compositions for a Polish Pope:  Comparing the Views Expressed by Pope John Paul II on Sacred Music with those Compositions of Górecki and Penderecki Specifically written for the Holy Father.

Submitted for "Church Music II" on December 12, 2012.


Abstract: When the Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II on October 16, 1978, Poland was entering a period of political turmoil that resulted in the declaration of martial law in 1981. The freedoms that had existed for Polish artists since 1956, however, had allowed a number of Polish composers to flourish, including Henryk Górecki (1933-2010) and Krzysztof Penderecki (1933- ). Yet, even a few years before 1981, both composers had simplified their musical languages – although with widely differing results – and had begun to emphasize religious themes within their music. Unsurprisingly, these two leading figures in Polish music allied with the new pope and, within years of his election, both men had composed pieces in his honor: in 1979, Górecki presented Beatus vir and, a year later, Penderecki presented his Te Deum. In 1987, on the occasion of Pope John Paul II’s third pilgrimage to Poland, Górecki contributed a second work in his honor, Totus Tuus. Finally, in 2005, Penderecki mourned the Holy Father’s passing through his bereaved Chaconne. Through these four compositions each written for Pope John Paul II, Górecki and Penderecki demonstrate their allegiance with the Holy Father as well as a shared understanding of what constitutes legitimate sacred music.


Opera in Transition: From the Rigid Aria-Recitative Structure to the Organic Continuous Melody of the Leitmotiv. Submitted for "Music for Stage and Screen" on November 29, 2012.


Abstract: For the first two centuries of its history, opera was structured according to the alternation between aria and recitative. While the recitative conveyed the drama within an opera, the aria subsequently commented upon these plot developments. However, as time passed, many people objected that this aria-recitative structure seemed ever more antiquated; yet, a solution did not arise until Richard Wagner (1813-1883) had perfected the leitmotiv allowing for a so-called continuous melody. However, the leitmotiv concept did not originate with Wagner and, in fact, took more than a century to develop. Ultimately, while Wagner perfected the leitmotiv and finally undermined the rigid aria-recitative structure, a series of Classical Era composers foreshadowed this development before Wagner’s immediate German predecessors succeeded in several pioneering attempts of their own.


Rameau's Pièces de Clavecin: Depictions of His Surroundings yet also Reflections of His Own Eccentricities and Creative Philosophy.  Submitted for "Music of the Baroque Era" on April 16, 2012.


Abstract: Both a theorist and composer, Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764) was one of the most influential figures working in France during the late Baroque Era. Although he did not truly establish himself in either of these roles until halfway through his life, Rameau, after finally settling in Paris in 1722, quickly gained the recognition in these fields that would extend until his last few years. Amongst the first works that Rameau composed, the five suites of Pièces de clavecin include many genre pieces, compositions that musically depict a particular mood, person, or thing. Although many of the details remain unknown about a number of the genre pieces found amongst these collections and elsewhere in Rameau’s catalogue of harpsichord music, these genre pieces certainly reflect their creator, his personal eccentricities, and his philosophy towards composition as much as they reflect the subjects that he wished to depict.


The Transformation in Minimalism: The Departure from the Avant-Gardism of Early Minimalism and the Emergence of a Post-Minimalist Aesthetic.  Submitted for "Music of the 20th Century" on November 28, 2011.


Abstract: Perhaps the most influential movement to arise within art music in the second half of the 20th Century, minimalism proposes that a tiny amount of musical material can serve as the basis for a larger composition. Although this movement initially emerged from within the avant-garde, minimalism has undergone a radical transformation since its inception in 1958. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, leaders of the later minimalist movement including Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and John Adams have abandoned many of their movement's original tenets replacing these principles with a conservative, neo-tonal language emphasizing harmony and melody as constructed above a repetitive accompaniment.


Shakespeare's Use of Music within his Tragedies and their Reinterpretation by Generations of Composers.

Submitted for "The Tragedies of Shakespeare" on May 2, 2011.


Abstract: Although little more than references to their musical content remain, Shakespeare’s plays and his tragedies, in particular, cultivate the vast powers of music. Through music, the eminent playwright once conveyed the emotions, underlined the actions, and depicted the characters and atmospheres of his plays. Nonetheless, the melodies employed by Shakespeare have since vanished, leaving many scholars to attempt to reconstruct their content. Composers too have attempted to restore music to these masterpieces, creating masterpieces of their own through both opera and orchestral music. Although rarely accurate to Shakespeare’s theatre, the most notable of the reinterpretations by these composers have achieved a status only matched by the originals themselves. Ultimately, as music greatly influenced Shakespeare and his tragedies, the playwright and his dramas have greatly influenced music in return.


The War of the Romantics: The Nineteenth-Century Debate Between Continuity with the Past and Music of the Future.  Submitted for "Music in the Romantic Era" on April 27, 2011.


Abstract: Throughout the Classical Era, composers worked to create an ideal and universal musical language, rigorously structured through abstract forms. Despite the Classicists' aims at musical perfection, in the decades following, this synthesis of styles gradually devolved. As Romanticism encouraged the expression of personal emotions and stressed individuality among its proponents, composers began to disagree about how to approach tradition, some taking a more conservative approach and others less so. Although both sides looked for inspiration in the compositions of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), the conservatives and the progressives each had their own values and interpreted his designs for the future differently. On one side, Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) and the conservatives pursued the abstract in music, organized their compositions according to the Classical forms, and modeled their approach to orchestration after Beethoven. In contrast, the progressives as led by Franz Liszt (1811-1886) and further represented by Richard Wagner (1813-1883) and Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) advocated the composition of works structured according to extra-musical programs, expanding the orchestra to suit such demands. The impending clash between these forces and their ideologies, termed by some scholars as the ‘War of the Romantics,’ reached its climax in the 1850s as the two schools of German Romanticism battled for the future of music itself, questioning the importance of abstract forms, programmaticism, and orchestration, and leaving the history of music forever changed.


The Establishment of the Concerto for Orchestra: A Response to the Formal Constraints of the Symphony and the Inequality of the Concerto.  Submitted for "Music History IV" on April 27, 2011.


Abstract: At first merely a product of Neo-Classicism’s reimagining of the past, the concerto for orchestra has emerged as an independent, sustainable genre through the efforts of composers like Béla Bartók (1881-1945), Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994), and Goffredo Petrassi (1904-2003). Possibly the only new musical genre to have emerged from the twentieth century, the concerto for orchestra requires virtuoso playing from each section of the orchestra, treating each of these sections in a soloist manner at different times throughout the composition. Merging and reinterpreting the genres of symphony and concerto, the concerto for orchestra offers the contemporary composer a medium that promotes equality among the various members of the orchestra without sacrificing the virtuosic display of the individual.


Gustav Mahler's Reinterpretation of Des Knaben Wunderhorn: The Transformation from Volkslied to Kunstlied. Submitted for "Nineteenth-Century German Literature in Translation" on April 14, 2011.


Abstract: A collection of several hundred German folk poems, Des Knaben Wunderhorn (The Youth's Magic Horn) compiled by Achim von Arnim and Clemens Brentano captured the Romantics’ fascination for nature and a simple, rustic lifestyle. Although making its first published appearance in 1805, the poems of Des Knaben Wunderhorn only became suitable texts for art song nearly a hundred years later with the settings of Gustav Mahler (1860-1911). While Mahler did attempt to create a folkloric atmosphere during his subsequently termed Wunderhorn years, the composer refused to abandon the principles of art music, instead reinterpreting these texts through lieder and symphonies that not only promoted a German cultural identity, but also expressed his personal philosophical beliefs.


First Principles: The Orchestration Methods of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

Submitted for "Music History IV" on March 25, 2011.


Abstract: A ruthless perfectionist and advocate for the individual, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov mastered the process of orchestration at a considerably young age. Although he tried several times throughout his life to preserve his notions of orchestration, successors must ultimately be content with the work he only resolutely decided to complete the afternoon before he died. This work, Principles of Orchestration, as compiled by Maximilian Steinberg represents the culmination of Rimsky-Korsakov’s theories concerning orchestration and the methods by which it should be taught. Emphasizing independence and individuality, Rimsky-Korsakov created a stunning array of colorful orchestral effects he hoped to detail in his Principles of Orchestration in order to inspire future generations of composers.


Portraits of America: An Investigation into the Distinctly American Compositions of Aaron Copland.

Submitted for "Democratic Vistas: The Idea of America" on December 8, 2010.


Abstract: Stressing notions like freedom and individuality, the United States of America has inspired in many people a great hope for prosperity. Until the middle of the twentieth century, however, the great nation had not inspired a prosperous tradition of art music as freethinking and individual as the philosophy underlying the country itself. Although many great composers like Charles Ives and George Gershwin had attempted to mold an American art form, their attempts ultimately proved unsuccessful as their conceptions often abandoned the American people they wished to represent. On the contrary, Aaron Copland (1900-1990) approached this challenge and prevailed. By depicting American subjects and incorporating elements of American popular music, Copland created an individual, distinctly American idiom of art music, highly sophisticated yet accessible to the common man.


Mendelssohn and the Past: Influences upon his Style and Attempts at Revival.

Submitted for "Music History III" on November 19, 2010.


Abstract: Although a nineteenth-century composer, Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) approached composition in a method enhanced through the study of his Baroque, Classical, and early Romantic predecessors. Unlike many of his more radical contemporaries, Mendelssohn did not fear merging the past with the present, and as a result created a largely individual style by drawing from a variety of established styles. From Johann Sebastian Bach, Mendelssohn acquired a mastery of contrapuntal techniques and a compositional integrity that followed him throughout his life. From George Frideric Handel, Mendelssohn learned impressive techniques for vocal and choral writing as well as a devotion to melody. From Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Mendelssohn gained a clarity and balance unparalleled by later generations. And, from early Romantics like Ludwig van Beethoven and Carl Maria von Weber, Mendelssohn developed ways of enhancing emotional expression through dramatic power.


A Climactic Finale: Music for Harpsichord in the Latter-Half of the Eighteenth Century.

Submitted for "Music History III" on October 6, 2010.


Abstract: Since the fifteenth century, the harpsichord had reigned supreme as the favored keyboard instrument and, over the course of these many years, had fulfilled both soloist roles and provided essential chordal support as the core of the basso continuo.  Nonetheless, the invention of the pianoforte around 1700 by Florentine harpsichord builder Bartolomeo Cristofori greatly challenged the preeminence of the harpsichord.  With its new hammer-action, the pianoforte could call forth dynamics changes by merely depressing the keys at different intensities, allowing this new instrument to emphasize the melody so essential to the Classical Era.  Yet the switch from harpsichord to pianoforte did not happen immediately, as the pianoforte lacked much of the range and intensity of the longstanding harpsichord.  Throughout the first half of the 18th century, the harpsichord still commanded much of the attention of composers, builders, and performers alike and, even in the latter-half of that century, the harpsichord provided ample competition to its increasingly popular successor.


Bach's Harpsichord Concerti: Models of Virtuosity.

Submitted for "Music History II" on April 28, 2010.


Abstract: With his exceedingly complex compositional language and mastery of counterpoint, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) represents the culmination of the Baroque Era and possibly stands as the greatest of all composers. There are numerous masterpieces among Bach's impressive catalogue of works, including the Brandenburg Concerti, Well-Tempered Clavier, Art of Fugue, and B-Minor Mass. Although they are today lesser-known than these compositions, Bach’s concerti for one to four harpsichords rival the aforementioned masterpieces in quality. Some of the earliest examples in the genre of the keyboard concerto, Johann Sebastian Bach’s fourteen harpsichord concerti contain much complexity and ingenuity while also requiring tremendous virtuosity from their performers.


Antonio Vivaldi's L'estro armonico: An Exploration into the Early History of the Concerto.

Submitted for "Music History II" on March 31, 2010.


Abstract: Although once nearly forgotten, the Venetian composer Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) greatly influenced each successive generation of composers through his reforms to the concerto. Arguably Vivaldi’s most original set of concerti, L’estro armonico (The Harmonic Whim, 1711) contrasts varying techniques to create twelve stunning works in the developing genre. With this emphasis on both contrasts and originality, Antonio Vivaldi, through his L’estro armonico, revolutionized the concerto, surpassing the genre’s predecessors and establishing a powerful precedent for future composers.


Analyzing the Film Scores of John Williams: The Use of Romanticism and Leitmotiv to Recreate Musically the Action on Screen.  Submitted for "An Introduction to Film Criticism" on December 14, 2009.


Abstract: The film composers of Hollywood's Golden Age of the 1930s and 1940s, composers like Max Steiner and Erich Wolfgang Korngold, used Romantic Era opera as a model for their film scores, preserving the large orchestra and expressive drama fostered by Richard Wagner and others. In the 1960s and 1970s, however, the classical film score was often replaced by pop-tunes, and some filmmakers even questioned the necessity of an actual score. Looking a generation back for his inspiration, John Williams has utilized a colorful neo-Romantic idiom to create specific musical themes to portray characters and emotions. With his immediately familiar music, John Williams has resurrected the classic film score by creating music that retains the accessibility of pop-tunes but is better-suited to musically recreate and expand upon the visual dimension of the film.


Guillaume de Machaut's Messe de Nostre Dame.

Submitted for "Music History I" on November 20, 2009.


Abstract: Often called the ‘Century of Disasters,’ the fourteenth century witnessed the exhausting Hundred Years’ War, the merciless Black Death, and the reprehensible Avignon Papacy. In the arts, however, the fourteenth century saw many great advancements, particularly in the field of music. Through the endeavors of composers like Franco of Cologne, Philippe de Vitry, and Guillaume de Machaut, music reached unforeseen heights. The culmination of this Ars Nova, Machaut’s Messe de Nostre Dame revolutionized the manner in which composers wrote Mass settings, establishing a precedent for generations to come.


Mysteries of the Magnus liber organi.

Submitted for "Music History I" on November 4, 2009.


Abstract: Originating in the twelfth century, the manuscript known as the Magnus liber organi (Great Book of Organum) represents the greatest collection of early polyphony in existence today, containing the entire surviving output of Parisian masters Léonin and Pérotin.  Despite the significance of this work, the Magnus liber organi presents far more questions than answers.  With little information from medieval sources, modern scholars have attempted to piece together a more comprehensive body of facts concerning the important work.  Despite the numerous mysteries the medieval work entails, modern scholars can now answer a number of questions concerning the origin, development, and purpose of the Magnus liber organi.


Cantigas de Santa Maria: Sacred Music from the Spanish Court of Alfonso X.

Submitted for "Music History I" on September 23, 2009.


Abstract: Called 'The Wise,' King Alfonso X reigned over Castile and León from 1252 to 1284. A practitioner of religious tolerance, he kept at his court Muslim, Jewish, and Christian scholars and encouraged them to explore the sciences and the arts. Popular at the court of Alfonso X, the song genre known as the cantiga mirrors the distinct culture of the Iberian Peninsula with its combination of western and eastern traditions. Although once greatly outnumbered by secular cantigas, the sacred Cantigas de Santa Maria compiled under Alfonso's guidance preserve the nearly forgotten form and in every way give praise to the Virgin Mary.


Augustine's De Musica: A Look at Music in the Early Church.

Submitted for "Music History I" on September 4, 2009.


Abstract: Augustine of Hippo was one of the early Church’s most important figures, and his books Confessions and City of God both enjoy wide renown. A lesser-known work, Augustine’s treatise De Musica, presents the famous bishop of Hippo’s thoughts on music. Music played a major part in Augustine's conversion to Christianity, and his De Musica stands as the earliest surviving guide for how music might properly fit into the context of Christian worship.

Alfred Schnittke
Dmitri Shostakovich
Jean-Philippe Rameau
Johannes Brahms
Aaron Copland
Johann Sebastian Bach
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