Document Type

Theses, Masters


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


6.4 ART, Arts, Performing arts studies, Musicology

Publication Details

Successfully submitted to the Conservatory of Music and Drama, Technological University Dublin in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Master of Music degree in 2016.


American-born Irish composer Jane O’Leary is one of the most accomplished participants on the Irish New Music scene. Although trained as a pianist, her career has also been closely linked to the clarinet and bass clarinet through collaborative work she has undertaken with outstanding performers such as Paul Roe and Harry Sparnaay. Thus, this thesis explores this composer’s contributions to the contemporary repertoire for clarinet and bass clarinet.

In order to examine O’Leary’s oeuvre for clarinet and bass clarinet, this research project analyses two of her most remarkable solo pieces for these instruments, Within/Without and a piacere, by determining not only their musical structure and compositional style, but, also, by investigating their context, creative process and the impact of her collaborative work with performers on the final outcome. Furthermore, a key aspect of this thesis is the fact that it is grounded on interviews with O’Leary and Roe, thus providing first-hand testimony on their careers, musical relationship and the collaborative input of Roe on O’Leary’s compositions.

The findings from this investigation reveal that O’Leary’s repertoire for clarinet and bass clarinet has grown exponentially since 2000, when the collaboration with eminent performers started. Additionally, her pieces share unique characteristics and sonority, since the composer tries to explore the capabilities of these instruments in terms of colour, timbre and expressivity. Finally, the active role of the performer was proven to be essential in the co-creative process, as well as their responsibility with regards to the evolution of O’Leary’s works over the years.


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