Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type

Doctoral Essay

Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


Music Theory and Composition (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Charles N. Mason

Second Committee Member

Dorothy Hindman

Third Committee Member

Deborah Schwartz-Kates

Fourth Committee Member

Juraj Kojs


In our time, composers are presented with an abundance of styles and tools with which to compose, as well as many compositional challenges. Intercultural composition is one such challenge. Intercultural music is music that combines, involves, or exists between two or more musical traditions. In the present study of intercultural composition, I have composed Axis Mundi for winds, zithers, strings, and percussion for members of the Atlas Ensemble to be submitted for a reading session during 2016 Atlas Academy. The Atlas Ensemble is an Amsterdam based ensemble whose musicians combine both Western and non-Western musical traditions. Learning about new instruments, their tunings, modes, histories, and cultural history is a difficult undertaking, but is rewarding as it brings about the satisfaction of connecting with fellow global citizens to create something new. My experiences with members of both the Vancouver Intercultural Orchestra and the Atlas Ensemble will inform much of this study. Consequently, this research discusses the processes involved in intercultural music composition, an analysis of Axis Mundi, the issues that emerge when composers incorporate instruments of cultures other than their own. The translation of the title of this composition, Axis Mundi, is “axis of the world.” For many cultures, an Axis Mundi can take the shape of many things, including a large tree, a mountain, a totem pole, or a temple. These axi serve as portals connecting earth, heaven, and hell. I musically represent these planes of existence as movements. The instrumentation of the work consists of the following instruments: shakuhachi in D, duduk in C, clarinet in A, santur, zheng, harp, bass drum, tam-tam, wood blocks, suspended cymbal, kamancha, kemençe, and cello.


Music; Composition; Intercultural; Transculturalism; Cosmopolitanism; Appropriation