Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



Committee Chair

Dr. Gregory Fuller

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Dr. Ashley Allen

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Dr. Joseph Brumbeloe

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Dr. Joseph E. Jones

Committee Member 4 School


Committee Member 5

Dr. Jonathan Kilgore

Committee Member 5 School


Committee Member 6

Dr. Catherine Rand

Committee Member 6 School



This dissertation began the process of aggregating available knowledge on the subject of eliciting a syncopated response from a musical ensemble from professors of conducting and conducting textbooks, searching for commonalities, and distilling them into several independent variables which can then be quantitatively tested in an experimental or quasi-experimental setting in future research.

Participants (n = 11) were Directors of Choral Activities, or any other job title with similar responsibilities, at universities which confer doctoral degrees in Choral Conducting. Each participant was required to have a different educational background than every other participant. Participants were given 15 examples of syncopated entrances on every sixteenth note of a simple quarter note beat and every eighth note of a compound dotted quarter note beat. Each portion of the beat was examined in three different positions: at the beginning of a work, within a work, and within one beat of having sung.

Very few conducting textbooks address syncopated entrances and, of those that do, even fewer go past an eighth note anacrusis in a simple meter. This small pool of textbooks reached a contradictory conclusion when compared to the participants. The textbooks suggested that if a note is perceived to be functioning as an anacrusis, one may cue the beat following the syncopation rather than the beat which contains the syncopation. The majority of the participants disagreed with that statement, advocating instead for a gesture before the note in all circumstances.

The specific gesture used varied based on whether the participant thought of the cue as taking place at the syncopated entrance or at the beginning of the syncopated beat. Those who cued at the syncopated entrance started their gestures away from the plane and moved downward first. Those who cued the beat of syncopation started their gesture at the plane and moved upward first.

The factors that affected participant answers were the placement within the beat, the perceived function of the note, context (within the same part, in other parts, language and articulation, historical and genre-specific considerations), level of comfort with the ensemble, and the ensemble’s place in the learning sequence.