Preferred Name

Melissa Montague Sumner Swisher

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Summer 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


School of Music


Dorothy Maddison

Mary Jean Speare


The purpose of this study is to present a performance guide on eight selected songs for voice and piano or orchestra by Olivier Messiaen. The performance guide is the result of five years of research, study, and performance of the presented material. It offers a comprehensive study of information relevant for the performer and collaborator. Included is a concise biography of the composer, followed by an overview of the most important compositional style traits Messiaen used in these works. The focus of the paper turns into a detailed analysis of Trois Mélodies, Vocalise-étude, and selected mélodie from Poèmes pour Mi: Paysage, La maison, L’épouse, and Le collier.

Song analysis will involve the application of twentieth-century harmonic practices, including set theory, modes and other scales in modern music, the formation of thirds and fourths, added chords, polychords, the manipulation of rhythmic devises not found in traditional compositions, and interpretive insights provided by the author. In addition, the last three appendices are devoted to: a chart of synthetic correspondence of modes to color, International Phonetic Alphabet transcriptions with poetic and idiomatic translations, and set theory analysis.



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