Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts





Committee Chair

Janet K Page

Committee Member

Victor S Asuncion

Committee Member

John W Baur

Committee Member

Pam Dennis


Bright Sheng (1955-) is a contemporary Chinese composer whose music spans Chinese and Western culture. The two piano trios chosen for this project, Four Movements for Piano Trio and Tibetan Dance, have not been thoroughly discussed and analyzed. Sheng's chamber music deserves academic attention because of his creative integration of Chinese and Western culture in his compositions. He fuses Chinese musical elements such as heterophony, pentatonic scales, and Chinese folksongs within the Western genres and structure. He vividly captures the spirit of Chinese music with a contemporary flavor, thus creating his own musical language. This paper will begin with an account of Bright Sheng's biography, followed by an overview of the Chinese musical characteristics that Sheng brings into his compositions. These elements include the aesthetic concepts and expressions in Chinese music, the implications of he ("harmony"), pentatonic modes, and diverse rhythmic patterns. The influence of Chinese folksongs, and how they are incorporated in Sheng's compositions, along with two significant figures who are influential in Sheng's life, Leonard Bernstein and Béla Bartók will be part of the discussion. An analysis of the formal structure of the Four Movements for Piano Trio is provided in the fourth chapter. Along with the analysis is a discussion of how Sheng fuses various Chinese elements into his music, and creates a unique compositional technique, "Chinese sequence," to construct the third movement. The second part will be an analysis of Tibetan Dance and the interpretive possibilities that can be derived from the ambience that Sheng creates through his compositional styles.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.