A poet's voice: Music in service to poetry: Elements of text painting in Juliana Hall's song cycle "How Do I Love Thee?"
Hayley Zavada Coughlin
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Date of Graduation
Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)
Dr. Dorothy Maddison
Dr. John Peterson
Dr. Mary Jean Speare
American composer Juliana Hall has established a reputation as one of the leading composers of contemporary American art songs, having composed over 60 song cycles, totaling over 300 works for the voice. Hall’s song cycle How Do I Love Thee? expresses a narrative arc told through five selections from Victorian-era poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese. The poems selected include Sonnet 3: “Unlike,” Sonnet 43: “How Do I Love Thee?,” Sonnet 37: “Pardon,” Sonnet 21: “Say Over,” and Sonnet 41: “Thank You.” Hall’s cycle describes the relationship between the lover and the object of their love, including moments of doubt and apprehension, passion and adoration, fear and anxiety, an incessant need for affirmation, and unwavering devotion. This document demonstrates how Juliana Hall uses text painting, the compositional technique of using music to reflect the literal meaning of a song's lyrics or story elements, by employing rhythmic figures, intervallic relationships, melodic contour, harmonic shifts, dynamic contrasts, and piano accompaniment in an attempt to convey the complex emotions present in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poetry. The first chapter offers a brief biography of Juliana Hall and an overview of her compositional philosophy and process. Chapter Two explores the history of text painting and the song cycle genre. Chapter Three provides a brief history of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese and introduces the song cycle How Do I Love Thee? Chapters Four through Eight identify specific instances of text painting throughout the cycle with detailed analyses of their effects on the poetic voice. Chapter Nine concludes with a discussion of this work’s implications and areas for future study.
Coughin, Hayley, "A poet's voice: Music in service to poetry: Elements of text painting in Juliana Hall's song cycle "How Do I Love Thee?"" (2022). Dissertations, 2020-current. 99.
Music Performance Commons, Music Theory Commons, Other Music Commons