Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type

Doctoral Essay

Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


Keyboard Performance (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Paul Posnak

Second Committee Member

Dennis Kam

Third Committee Member

Rosalina Sackstein

Fourth Committee Member

Nobleza Pilar


The focus of this essay is a discussion of Libby Larsen's relationship with American vernacular musical expression in her piano chamber music works. This essay examines three works that are representative of the wide range of influences in her piano chamber music: Holy Roller for Alto Saxophone and Piano; Barn Dances for Flute, Clarinet, and Piano; and Trio for Piano and Strings for Violin, Cello, and Piano. They are inspired, respectively, by three different genres of American music: gospel, Western square dance, and jazz. In so doing, this essay discusses Larsen's use of musical quotations, idiomatic harmonic elements, and patterns of rhythm and melody drawn from these varied aspects of American culture. It is essential for musicians to understand how to play varying genres, and this essay offers suggestions on how to play the three different genres of gospel, Western square dance, and jazz within the context of Larsen's music. This essay will hopefully bring these works, and Larsen's larger body of works, to the greater attention of the musical community and introduce them to a wider audience.


Gospel Music; Azusa Street Revival; Square Dances; Cowboy Songs; Bebop; Film Noir; Fusion; Interview With Libby Larsen