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Date of Award
Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)
School of Music
Robert Paterson’s CAPTCHA is a five-song cycle for baritone and piano that comes with some unique challenges from an interpretive standpoint. The text is comprised of CAPTCHAs: two-word phrases originally designed to test human identity versus that of a computer. Nearly every phrase contains a gibberish word and a real word and there is no proper syntax. The composer leaves interpretation open to the performer, which prompts the primary question explored in this document: how can a singer create an effective performance of this piece, given its unique challenges?
This document takes a multidisciplinary approach to discover the range of possibilities without prescribing one “correct” answer. A review of literature explores various genres that draw parallels to CAPTCHA, including concert vocalises, other songs utilizing mundane texts for lyrics, and three specific texts which combine real and gibberish words: “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll, Nuvoletta by James Joyce (set by Samuel Barber), and Cinq Rechants by Olivier Messiaen. More perspectives are considered through results of interviews with composer Robert Paterson and the first two baritones to perform the cycle in its entirety, Jesse Blumberg and Daniel Ihasz. A practical analysis of the cycle is designed to give prospective performers a wide range of elements to consider when building an interpretation. Multiple performance strategies are presented for their possible application to the piece, including Kristin Linklater and phonetic-based training for pronunciation, Konstantin Stanislavski’s System for realistic acting, and the modernist theatre of Bertolt Brecht. Finally, the author synthesizes the various findings and produces strategies for interpretation in which the music and the character of the text itself may provide a basis for exploration. The study concludes with a brief outline of benefits to studying a piece without straightforward text and areas for further research.
Yampiro, Kyle, "Establishing Human Identity Through Randomly-Generated Lyrics: A Comprehensive Performer's Analysis of Robert Paterson's CAPTCHA and Its Performance" (2016). Dissertations. 102.