New Contexts for Old Melodies
: Vaguely repeating evocative fragments as a way to reflect on my cultural heritage while struggling with the notation of time

  • José Mora-González

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


The following text is a written commentary accompanying a portfolio of four original compositions for solo instruments (oboe, cello, voice and piano). The text is divided into three parts, each focusing on one of the issues that have defined my compositional practice lately, and which best help to clarify the nature of the compositions, their origin and their evolution.

The first part addresses the use of fragments of popular and traditional songs as basic materials in my music, as well as issues of selection, evocation, resignification and reformulation brought by the use of such fragments, and the operations implemented on them. Further context is provided in a discussion of song and identity, in which my compositional output is framed as research into my cultural background and identity, and a discussion of song and nation, where that background is set against the current political crisis in Spain, which has directed my work towards musical traditions and songs that are strongly related to Spanish national and cultural identity.

The second part focuses on form and perception, examining the key strategies regarding the approach to the organisation of time and material, including limited materials, repetition, and slowness. Issues related to process, quietness, development or reflexivity are also addressed.

Finally, the third section describes the changing approaches to the notation of time that have arisen during the project. The notation of time has become a territory displaying a struggle between the expression of, on one hand, the maximum possible thoroughness regarding the transmission of information about durations and, on the other hand, the maximum achievable flexibility in the approximation towards materials aiming to convey a certain organicity, blurriness and elusiveness. This struggle has become central to the process of writing, and has led to different notational approaches to text, rhythm, pulse or space.
Date of Award2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAaron Cassidy (Main Supervisor)

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