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A study and computer data base of innovative compositional and performance techniques in intermediate piano literature composed from 1940 through 1990

, West Virginia University, United States

West Virginia University . Awarded


This study lists and analyzes serious intermediate piano literature written from 1940-1990. The purpose of this study is two-fold: (1) it identifies pieces which could be used to introduce contemporary styles and techniques to students at the intermediate level of piano study; and (2) it contains a data base listing 418 additional pieces which may be used for further study.

Bartok's Mikrokosmos is a model collection for introducing piano students to the style and performance of early twentieth-century music. Since today's piano methods do not adequately prepare students to perform more recent repertoire, this study identifies and analyzes styles and techniques of intermediate piano repertoire composed since 1940. The starting place for this project is a review of literature on twentieth-century piano repertoire confirms that the following techniques are employed most prominently after 1940: gradations and combinations of pedal, performance inside the piano, performance on the keyboard with clusters and silently depressed keys, addition of human sounds, addition of sounds made on the frame or case of the piano, aleatoric writing, quartal or quintal harmony, improvisation, prepared piano, and new notation. Each technique is described with regard to its execution and notation. One intermediate-level piano piece for each technique was selected for in-depth analysis. Teaching strategies and "questions/activities for the student" follow each analysis.

A data base, with an additional 418 pieces for follow-up study, accompanies this project. Each entry contains the following: composer, title, year of composition, tonality/atonality, meter(s), tempo(s), length, contemporary technique, publisher, date of publication, editor, and collection name. The data base allows the user to sort the pieces by composer, technique, and tonality.

Teaching and studying contemporary piano literature will hopefully change attitudes towards this repertoire. It is only when piano teachers begin to rely on pieces of the twentieth century to help teach skills and concepts of piano playing, that piano music of this century will gain the recognition it deserves. Any pianist wishing to teach or perform contemporary music will find this study helpful and fundamental to understanding the different types of techniques composed in piano literature after 1940.


Cartwright, L.M. A study and computer data base of innovative compositional and performance techniques in intermediate piano literature composed from 1940 through 1990. Ph.D. thesis, West Virginia University. Retrieved November 18, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.

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