Date of Award

Fall 12-2015

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Music (MM)



Committee Chair

Douglas Rust

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Danny Beard

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Joseph Brumbeloe

Committee Member 3 Department



Dmitri Shostakovich’s Piano Sonata No. 1, written in 1926, is one of his most complex and lengthy works for piano. In contrast to the conservative style used in his critically-acclaimed Symphony No. 1, Op. 10, composed a year earlier, the sonata employs a highly modernistic idiom which predominated the composer’s output in the late 1920’s. The musical surface of the sonata was crafted by an extensive use of interval classes 1 and 5 which serve as the primary means of structuring pitch material.

This paper examines the surface combinations of two interval classes as well as their interaction with the structure through composing out, using Stephen Brown’s Dual Interval Space (DIS), a two-dimensional tonnetz. The DIS provides a tool that delineates both the voice-leading space of interval classes 1 and 5 and the relationship among different set classes that consist of them. This paper will build upon Brown’s discovery by demonstrating how intervallic properties from these short excerpts are composed out on a large scale as pitch centers—leading to a new understanding of the role that the two interval classes play in this sonata, both locally and structurally.