The Solo Songs For Voice and Piano of Carlos Chavez

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



First Advisor

Richard X. Sanchez

Advisor Department



Carlos Chavez (1899-1978) has been recognized as a significant twentieth-century composer whose works have made a unique and significant contribution to the repertory of twentieth-century music. His compositions for solo voice were written over the course of many years, beginning with his first vocal piece in 1918. His total output for the solo voice numbers twenty-five songs, but only six have been published. The purpose of this study was to provide a thorough discussion of Chavez' solo songs for voice and piano, including a melodic, rhythmic and harmonic analysis of each. This study included a biographical synopsis of Chavez and a translation of the Spanish texts into English. Because many aspects of Chavez' songs can not be analyzed using traditional analytical vocabulary, the writer defined some terms used in the analyses of the songs. In his compositions, Chavez made abundant use of rhythmic repetition, irregular meters, and frequently changing tempos. One of the most significant characteristics of Chavez' works was his avoidance of triads and traditional harmony in his compositions. He used harmonic parallelisms, percussive dissonances, octaves, sevenths, ninths, and chords of quartal and secundal construction. This study demonstrated that Chavez' songs contain elements which qualify them as worthy to be included in vocal repertoire. This research project presented the only treatment of the unpublished songs of Carlos Chavez.