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

Spring 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


School of Music


Kevin McMillan

Jo-Anne van der Vat-Chromy

Eric Guinivan


This Doctor of Musical Arts Document explores the role Zachary Wadsworth plays in the development of American Art Song. Born in 1983, composer Zachary Wadsworth has written over forty songs. His music is complex and challenging, with influences from all musical eras, with much of his work focusing on the techniques and sounds of twentieth-century modernism. Wadsworth’s choice of poetry focuses on English literature from many different musical eras, embracing a broad range of themes subjects, and emotions.

Following a brief biography of Wadsworth’s early life and career, the document surveys Wadsworth’s contributions to contemporary American art song regarding his use of text and how it informs his compositional process, and style. This study will also analyze how Wadsworth incorporates his compositional influences in his writing and personal style. This thesis also explores the use of text expression in regards to rhythm, both melodically and harmonically, melody, motivic accompaniment, and centricity as compositional devices that underpin the formal foundation of his compositions. While his music can be characterized as atonal, Wadsworth suggests pitch centers as a foundation that may be unnoticeable to most singers. This document includes an annotated catalog of forty-five works for solo voice and various accompanying instruments. The annotated catalog provides support in music analysis, text analysis, and non-standard score indications, and includes an outline of Wadsworth’s interpretive preferences. The annotated catalog also provides essential information about each piece concerning levels of difficulty and accessibility for singers, teachers, pianists, and coaches.

The research was conducted through interviews with Wadsworth. In addition to preparing, coaching, and performing many of these works, the remaining songs were examined through both professional and unpublished recordings. Several prominent performers of Wadsworth’s vocal music provided live interviews. This study serves as a basis for further research into Wadsworth’s life and works, and for successful performances of his songs.



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