Thesis submission ID 926 | created | last updated

Madeline Judge, Alan Louis Smith's Vignettes: Covered Wagon Woman: a historical and musical analysis from a performer's perspective
DMusPerf, Royal Irish Academy of Music, 2023

Volumes, pp.: 1 vol (vii, 115 pp.)   
Supervisor(s): Denise Neary
Repository (online):
Repository (hard copy): Royal Irish Academy of Music Library

General specialism: Musicology: Performance Studies
Historical timeframe: 1850
Key terms, concepts: Performance practice; Implications for performance
Key terms, persons: Alan Louis Smith; Margaret Ann Alsip Frink
Key terms, places: United States of America
Key terms, genres, instruments: American song cycles

This thesis will focus on Alan Louis Smith’s Vignettes: Covered Wagon Woman, for Mezzo-Soprano, Violin, Cello, and Piano. The work is rich with history and vivid imagery and is set to a text that is based on excerpts from the diary of Margaret Ann Alsip Frink. The text chronicles her journey from Indiana with her husband and two young men across the United States to Sacramento, California in 1850. The thesis will focus on the historical context of the text and piece, along with major implications for performers and collaborators.

The history of art song in the United States is a varied and unique blend of differing styles and cultures. Previous research includes the histories of Native American music, the influence of mass immigration on American compositional sound and the study of the composers that have come to exemplify these blended traits of composition. With research contributions by Hugh Wiley Hitchcock, David Nichols and Charles Hiroshi Garrett, the history of American art song has been widely examined. A large amount of research has also explored performance
practice and interpretation in art song, with a vast amount of analysis from Judith Carman, Thomas Hampson, and Victoria Etnier Villamill.

Alan Louis Smith (b. 1955), is an American collaborative pianist and teacher, along with being a gifted composer. His contributions to American song present new investigations for research and deserve further examination. Smith combines his unique style of writing with song texts that derive from distinctive points in the history of the United States. While there has been research compiled on his other vocal works, such as Tamara Brook Regensburger’s dissertation ‘Alan Louis Smith’s Vignettes: Ellis Island: The history, evolution and performance of a modern American song cycle’, there are other works of his that deserve exploration. This thesis focuses on his song cycle, Vignettes: Covered Wagon Woman from the Daily Journal of Margaret Ann Alsip Frink 1850 for mezzo-soprano, violin and cello. Written for American mezzo-soprano, Stephanie Blythe, this thesis traces the origins of the work and explores the historical context of the diary, Smith’s compositional style, and the various implications for performers.
Thesis submission ID 926