Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



First Committee Member

Linda Lister

Second Committee Member

Alfonse Anderson

Third Committee Member

Kenneth Hanlon

Fourth Committee Member

Eugenie Burkett

Fifth Committee Member

Joe Bynum

Number of Pages



Chinese-American composer Chen Yi has been praised as "the most internationally renowned female Asian composer of contemporary music today," and she "has in particular become a prominent figure in music circles in the United States and China." Besides her successes in writing orchestral and chamber music, Chen Yi has also written numerous vocal compositions including some art songs. This document aims to introduce two sets of Chen's art songs written for mezzo-soprano voice, Meditation and Bright Moonlight, and study the features of these compositions that represent the unique style of her music, which is influenced by Chinese folk music idioms and Western modern music elements.

Chen Yi grew up in both the traditional China before the mid-1960s and the reformed China after the mid-1970s. She took her journey of music study a long way from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing to Columbia University in New York City. She is a Western-trained musician and has launched a successful career of teaching Western music in higher education in America. This document reveals Chen's bicultural background, strengthens the link between her cultural uniqueness and her musical creativity, and elaborates on how her bicultural background has influenced her compositional style.

Ancient Chinese poetry and Peking Opera singing style have inspired Chen's art songwriting tremendously. By reviewing the poetic literature of Tang Shi and Song Ci and the performing practice of Peking Opera, this document will give comprehensive interpretations of Chen's musical approaches for her Meditation and Bright Moonlight that use the two sources effectively.

The scope of this document covers a wide collection of Chen's biographical and educational information, as well as her published vocal compositions and the reviews of her works. Some relevant references are gathered from research articles to support the thesis of this document. The theoretical approaches to analyzing Chen's art songs emphasize her music expressions that mirror her poetic choices and compositional methods, paying attention to her creative ways of combining Chinese music practices with Western compositional devices.

The purpose of this research is to promote Chen's solo vocal works and spark contemporary women composers' musical creativities. It is hoped that professional singers and voice teachers will consider including Chen's art songs in their contemporary repertoires, making substantial contributions to the tradition of art song within their teaching and performing practices.


Art song; Chen; Yi; --1953-; Composition (Music); Music--Chinese influences; Songs (Medium voice)


Composition | Music | Other Music

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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