Sunday, September 8, 2013

Clarinet Dissertations Online (Sept. 2013 Column)

Many dissertations which sat for years in obscurity on the granting institution’s library shelf are now being digitized and made publicly available.  A process which used to involve filling out an interlibrary loan request and waiting several weeks is now as easy as downloading a PDF.  In this column, we explore online resources for finding full-text digital versions of clarinet theses and dissertations.

Graduate students and faculty researchers will find these resources useful to survey scholarly literature about clarinet-related topics, but they are not just for academics.  At a time when much dubious information is available on the Internet, theses and dissertations provide a trustworthy source for information that has been thoroughly reviewed and approved by a student’s major professor, university committee and deans or other school officials. These documents are a logical place to turn when looking for more information than Wikipedia or articles in past issues of The Clarinet can provide.

One of the largest open-access databases for scholarly research is the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD). This international organization’s website yields a listing of over 2,500 full-text electronic theses and dissertations involving the clarinet. Although it is bit tricky to navigate at first, begin your search for clarinet-related documents by clicking the “Find ETDs” on the home page. From there you will utilize the “Scirus ETD Search” located a few paragraphs down. Here, a helpful side-menu offers keyword suggestions to refine searches or you can limit your search with additional keywords of your choosing. Each document’s entry is linked to the respective university’s database, from which you can access the full text directly. The "Find ETDs" page also has a list of links to other databases that may be helpful in an extended search.

Many university libraries are beginning to post full-text dissertations that are publicly accessible through their websites. These individual university databases often overlap with NTLTD, but may have more up-to-date collections.

A few examples are the University of Rochester, with digital dissertations from Eastman students beginning from 2008; and Florida State University, which grants access to electronic theses and dissertations dating back to 2003. The OhioLINK ETD Center currently lists over sixty-five dissertations involving the clarinet from Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati, and Bowling Green State University.  The UNT Digital Libraries contain full-text dissertations of clarinetists who received their DMA from the University of North Texas from 2000 to the present. UNT was one of the earliest institutions to begin requiring electronic submission of theses and dissertations (along with West Virginia University and Vanderbilt University), so its collection is extensive.

EThOS (Electronic Theses Online Service) is a database of numerous participating UK institutions with several dissertations on the clarinet available to download. To access the digitized documents, you must complete the free registration process. Although many of the documents are open to the public, the required programs necessary to view these documents include Adobe Acrobat Reader and software to unzip the compressed files. In addition to the free downloading options, you can also order paper copies (bound or unbound) and CD/DVDs of dissertations for a fee.

Electronic dissertation records have the added benefit of including supplemental audio and visual materials. Michele Ann Bowen Hustedt’s 2010 University of Iowa dissertation “The Life and Career of Himie Voxman” includes a film of her interview with Voxman, while Ray Wheeler’s 1967 study of clarinet tongue position through X-ray analysis is now available through the University of Rochester’s website, including the original videos collected as part of the research. Many clarinetists are also now posting their own dissertations for public viewing on their personal websites, including Rachel Yoder’s 2010 dissertation on interactive computer music for clarinet together with a supplemental spreadsheet of interactive works.

There are countless theses and dissertations accessible on the Internet and we have touched upon only a few. If you have a link or web address to your full-text dissertation and would like us to add it our blog posting of this column, please email your information to  Thanks to Tracey Paddock for suggesting this topic!

Allison Yacoub, who teaches clarinet at Morgan State University, has sent a link to her University of Maryland dissertation "Compositions for Clarinet Influenced by Non-Western European Musical Traditions".

Tracey Paddock sent a link to her Florida State University dissertation, "A Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Clarinetists."


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