Burgett, Jill

Committee Member

Elwood, Paul

Committee Member

Brewer, Mary Kathryn

Committee Member

Welsh, Michael


College of Performing and Visual Arts; School of Music, Choral and Orchestral Conducting


University of Northern Colorado

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Place of Publication

Greeley, (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created



108 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


Dan Forrest’s the breath of life is a contemporary composition the author believes will be performed numerous times in future years after the extensive physical and emotional effect the pandemic had on the world. Although composed prior to the pandemic, the breath of life could bring comfort and a salve to the hurt and pain of humankind caused by the pandemic but will also affect the emotional state of loss for years to come for all humanity. This work exhibits Forrest’s use of acousmatic electronics with choir and orchestra. Biblical texts as well as poetry written by three poets from a variety of historical time periods and countries are employed. Compositionally, his integration of human breath as an extended compositional technique rather than simply as a biological human function creates an artistic soundscape, uniquely supporting the “breath of life” aspect of this work. This document contains a choral conductor’s evaluation and study of Forrest’s compositional style as illustrated through analyses of the breath of life. Chapter I consists of biographical information about the composer, Dan Forrest, and an introduction to this piece, the breath of life. Chapter II contains backgrounds and analyses of the texts used in the breath of life. Chapter III—a discussion of musical form and composition construction—contains an analysis of the formal elements in each movement of the breath of life. It also examines Forrest’s views on melodic and harmonic elements as well as how he negotiates the complicated relationship between music and text. Chapter IV focuses on the different types of compositional techniques Forrest uses throughout this work. The final chapter contains performance considerations based on the analysis of the breath of life, a discussion of issues related to the conductor’s role in the preparation of the works, and other general conclusions. Through analysis, discussions, articles and interviews, this dissertation provides an overview and a detailed in-depth study of this work to aid future conductors in their preparations for performing this work.

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Copyright is held by the author.