Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



Document Type

Major Paper


Alice Parker (b. 1925) has earned a place of respect in choral music through more than half a century of work in arranging and composition, conducting, teaching and writing. Her works reflect diverse interests, from short, unison pieces for treble choir, to the complexity of unaccompanied madrigals, to major choral/orchestral works and operas. Conductors and singers all over the world have been influenced by her writings, seminars and SINGS, and she continues to extol the value of music, both in the concert hall and as a part of everyday life. Scholarly research of her choral compositions is limited, and further research is warranted because of the volume, variety, and quality of materials she has produced, and as recognition of her personal standing in the music world. This paper is an in-depth study of Parker’s compositional methods through an analysis of three major choral works: Songstream (1986, Galaxy Music Corporation), Angels and Challengers (1990, Alice Parker Music Company), and Songs from “The Dragon Quilt” (1984, E. C. Schirmer Music Company). It is presented in five chapters: Chapter 1 is a general biography which focuses on her musical career, compositional style and educational endeavors and philosophy; Chapters 2-4 examine each of the works individually. Special emphasis is placed on the importance of Parker’s choice of text. The influence of the text on overall form and on the modal melodic and harmonic movement is a hallmark of Parker’s compositional style. Chapter 5 is a brief discussion of practical rehearsal considerations and interpretive issues, followed by a conclusion. This study illustrates the variety and often surprising complexity that results from Parker’s simple philosophy of music coupled with her straightforward compositional style. Utilizing natural text stress and modal melodic techniques, she creates music that is the embodiment of the text.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Kenneth Fulton

Included in

Music Commons