Cosmic Music: A Jazz Suite Inspired by Italo Calvino's Cosmicomics

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2021-05

Authors

Sanchez, Telesmar

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Abstract

For my Plan II thesis, I composed a suite of pieces based off of different stories from Italo Calvino's Cosmicomics. This idea was born out of a disconnect I feel between my Plan II experience and my studies in my Jazz Guitar Performance major. My two majors are different from each other far beyond their subject matter: Their social environments, class structures, teaching methods, facilities, and resources are all in stark contrast. In pursuing both majors, I have felt like I am living a double life in undergraduate school. Very few of my music classmates even have any idea I am in Plan II, and vise-versa. Oftentimes over the past four years, I have had to deliberately split my time in half between everything Plan II and everything music. While I love both areas of study, their differences have caused me to feel a sense of overall alienation. I have felt that in doing both Plan II and music, I have kept from fully immersing myself in either. Therefore, I wanted this thesis to combine music and composition with Plan II liberal arts discourse to counteract that divide and synthesize my interests and lifestyles. Frankly, this fulfils not only a scholastic need for me, but a social one as well. I want this project to subvert my imposter syndrome with both communities by being an act of synthesis I can be proud of. I first read Cosmicomics for a Voltaire's Coffee just before I began my freshman year of college. I absolutely loved it. It proved to be deeply influential in my taste and value set in literature for my entire time in Plan II. I now consider Calvino to be my favorite author and I've since read lots of his other works. My hope was that by closely studying the storytelling nuances of such a formative Plan II text and translating them to jazz composition, I would be able to execute that meaningful synthesis I've wanted for so long. My end product is a four-movement suite of through-composed jazz music for an octet of my UT jazz major friends. Each movement is based on a short story from Cosmicomics.

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