Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



First Committee Member

John McMurtery

Second Committee Member

Richard Miller

Third Committee Member

Marina Sturm

Fourth Committee Member

Shawna Pennock

Fifth Committee Member

Seong Min Park


Isang Yun (1917–1995) is recognized as one of the most notable avant-garde Korean composers of the twentieth century. His compositions serve as a crucial link between Eastern and Western musical traditions because they contain elements of techniques from both traditions. My intention in this paper is to examine Yun and his symphonic poem Exemplum: in Memoriam Kwangju with the goal of helping the reader comprehend its narrative effects. I will also provide a musical analysis and interpretation based on Yun’s intention in composing Exemplum: in Memoriam Kwangju and examine Yun’s compositional approaches to the three different instrumental groups (strings, wind, and percussion) used. In this work, each instrumental group plays a different role to communicate the events of the Kwangju Uprising more effectively.In 1957, Yun left Korea for Berlin to study composition and music theory and became a naturalized West German citizen in 1971. Various political circumstances in Korea affected his music, especially during the 1970s. Thus, it is valuable to explore a narrative effect in Exemplum: In Memoriam Kwangju that embraces Yun’s compositional techniques and historical background. In Exemplum: In Memoriam Kwangju, Yun employs Eastern musical elements such as traditional Korean modes, sound effects, and ornaments combined with Western instrumentation to describe the Kwangju Democratization Movement scenes. In addition, he assigns distinctive roles to each instrumental group to tell a story of the Kwangju uprising. For example, he employs the lyrical sound of strings to represent the people’s mourning, wind for protesters, and percussion for military repression. To understand the overall narrative effect of the piece, we must examine these features in detail.


Asian–European music; Exemplum: In Memoriam Kwangj; Hauptklang; Hauptton; Isang Yun; Nonghyun



File Format


File Size

13400 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




IN COPYRIGHT. For more information about this rights statement, please visit

Included in

Music Commons