Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Kristin Taavola, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Jonathan Leathwood

Third Advisor

Gregory Robbins


Choral music, Harmonic complexity, Linear analysis, Olivier Messiaen, Post-tonal music, Set theory


In this study I examine three early works of Olivier Messiaen: the motet O sacrum convivium (1937), "La colombe" from the eight piano preludes (1928-9), and the closing passage of "La fiancée perdue" from the song cycle Trois méodies (1930). All three works exhibit varying degrees of tonal behavior in combination with a foreground focus on harmonic sonority. As such, I approach each of them with two contrasting analytic methods: modified Schenkerian linear-reductive analysis, informed by the interaction of diatonic and octatonic collections, and set-class analysis. The latter approach incorporates the harmonic complexity index (HCI) as an innovative harmonic measure calculated from the interval-class vector of each set-class. Informed by established and recent scholarly work, the introduction to the thesis provides a background for the application of these analytic techniques to this repertoire, while the thesis itself demonstrates that form is revealed powerfully through the combination of these two separate perspectives.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Krista Lenore Beckman


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

67 p.


Music, Performing Arts

Included in

Music Commons