Date of Award

Spring 5-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



Committee Chair

John Wooton

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Joseph Brumbeloe

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Edward Hafer

Committee Member 3 Department


Committee Member 4

Marcos Machado

Committee Member 4 Department


Committee Member 5

Richard Perry

Committee Member 5 Department



Psappha by Iannis Xenakis was written for a solo percussionist in 1975, and since then has been performed almost exclusively by elite musicians. The work suffers from broad neglect by students and professionals alike, because the structure and notation are difficult to access. Through Psappha, Xenakis created an alternative approach to serialist and chance compositional techniques that enabled him to communicate what he believed was rhythm in its purest form. The notation is unconventional and challenges the performer to approach Psappha in a similar manner. The main thrust of this project was to re-imagine the work in a more traditional notation system, making it accessible to a new generation of performers.

Understanding the difficulties and breaking them down in a systematic way empowers the performer to approach the work with confidence that the wealth of musical information contained is successfully conveyed to an audience. Also, by partitioning Psappha into 16 sections, presented as etudes of progressive difficulty, the work is useful for the development of basic multiple percussion technique. The skills acquired by learning the material of Psappha are ones needed to perform the subsequent repertoire for solo multiple percussion.