Date of Award

Spring 5-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



Committee Chair

Dr. Maryann Kyle

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Dr. Christopher Goertzen

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Dr. Susan Ruggiero

Committee Member 3 Department


Committee Member 4

Dr. Douglas Rust

Committee Member 4 Department


Committee Member 5

Dr. Jonathan Yarrington

Committee Member 5 Department



This dissertation sprang from a combination of two personal interests: cowboy culture and classical art song. The union of my cowgirl heritage with my career as a classical vocalist has long fueled an interest in a particular niche of repertoire: soprano art song with thematic connections to the North American cowboy. A conducted state of research reveals no scholarly literature exploring this specific topic. Libby Larsen’s collection, Cowboy Songs, fulfills the aforementioned niche, successfully capturing the spirit, musical idioms, and cultural themes of the North American cowboy.

Chapter I lays a contextual foundation for cowboy song, providing a catalogue of critically accepted “cowboy art songs” in the classical vocal canon as well as a brief state of research, and discussing the difficulties of creating a cowboy-art song fusion. Chapter II presents a biography of Libby Larsen and establishes her compositional philosophy. Chapter III provides an analysis of Cowboy Songs utilizing the parameters of Larsen’s self-stated compositional philosophy. Chapter IV informally notes three additional “cowboy art songs” by Larsen, Ives, and Previn, then delivers its closing remarks. The document includes three appendices containing the full email interview with Larsen, a letter of permission to use the score, and the appropriate IRB approval letter.