Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Doctor of Musical Arts




Roland, Sophie Louise


Art song is a diverse, inclusive genre of music, as well as an important pedagogical tool for singers. It can be performed in the smallest of spaces, but it is also able to hold its own in the largest concert halls. It requires only a few musicians, making it an ideal choice for a concert or recital setting, and its poetic content describes virtually every aspect of life, in many languages, making it accessible to a broad audience. Many of its works require less physical maturity on the part of singers and require less rigorous technical ability than larger concert repertoire or opera arias. Canadian singers are seldom exposed to their own version of this genre, and/or have difficulty accessing Canadian art song. This study aims to address this problem by demonstrating the need for a graded, online database of Canadian art song, termed the Database of Canadian Art Song (DoCAS). The DoCAS will be an open-access, graded online catalogue of Canadian art song. The design of the DoCAS will focus on the following primary directives: ease of use, opportunity for exploration and discovery of new music, augmentation of educational resources for singers and singing teachers, knowledge mobilization, and promotion of Canadian composers and their music. All art songs housed in the DoCAS will be evaluated according to a grading scheme devised by the author, assigned a difficulty level, and will be catalogued with relevant information. Users of the website will be able to browse a database of Canadian art song by level, or to search by composer (or composer’s gender or Indigenous Canadian identification), title, poet, language, duration, voice type, instrumentation, publication date, or keyword and create a profile to save art songs into collections for future reference. Additional features of this website include a profile page for anyone who creates a free membership account, the ability to save art song into public or private collections, networking with other members by viewing their profile pages or public collections, an events calendar populated by members (searchable by date, location, and event type), as well as many educational resources. This document will develop the necessary curriculum and templates for the website, as well as a sample database with 100 entries to demonstrate the potential functions of the DoCAS. An online collection of all Canadian art song does not currently exist, making this project unique in its conception. Having virtually all of our art song collected in one single location alone would be of tremendous value to Canadian musicians or anyone interested in Canadian music, and would increase access to Canadian art song for singers, singing teachers, and collaborative pianists, in addition to increased exposure for Canadian art song and Canadian composers. Also unique to this project is the application of a grading system on the art song housed in the database, which will efficiently indicate the appropriate song choice for a given student, the networking opportunities created for everyone who creates a personal profile, and the promotion of art music events throughout Canada as well as the international art music community.

Summary for Lay Audience

Art song is a genre of music written for classically-trained singers to perform. The most typical art song compositions are written for solo voice and piano, but many variations on this model exist, such as art song compositions for solo voice and an instrument other than piano, solo voice and chamber ensemble (numerous instruments), unaccompanied voice, or vocal duets, trios, and small ensembles. These songs utilize text from any genre of literature or are set to poetry that is written by the composer, allowing art songs to be composed about any topic, in any language. Some art songs are quite simplistic or even written for children to sing, while other art songs are among the most challenging repertoire that a singer could attempt to learn and perform. This wide range of difficulty and content means that singers are able to learn and perform art songs throughout their lives; therefore, this is a valuable and inclusive genre of music. Since many art songs are less challenging than operatic or concert repertory (vocal repertoire intended for professional level singers), they are often the favoured musical selections for children and beginner singing students, making this art form an important teaching resource.

Many Canadian composers have written art song, but these songs can be difficult to locate. Currently, there is no singular archive where one can locate all art song written by Canadian composers, and the resources that do exist house incomplete collections and do not indicate the content nor describe the difficulty of the piece, making it impossible to appropriately select repertoire. This monograph aims to remedy this problem by proposing the development of The Database of Canadian Art Song (DoCAS). A service such as the DoCAS does not currently exist in Canada and would vastly increase exposure and accessibility to Canadian art song for singers, voice teachers, collaborative pianists, and music librarians.