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Sarah Durham '16

Moravian Music: Editions, Performances, and Heritage


Major: Music Therapy
Hometown: Winston Salem, NC
Project Advisors: Hilde Binford, Gwyn Michel

Briefly describe your project.

I did my research in the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem PA, Winston Salem NC, and Herrnhut Germany. I worked through the Moravian Music Foundation to bring Moravian music back to life. The music I chose to edit is from the 1700s and has not been performed since that time. My project was to compare the transcripts from all 3 locations in order to find similarities and differences in the various locations.

Why did you decide to turn your idea into a SOAR project?

I suggested this project to Dr. Binford. I am a Moravian and I find our history fascinating, the archives is really a hidden Gem with a wealth of information. I am also a music major so it seemed like the perfect project. This is also a project that has been done in the past.

How did your faculty advisor guide you through your research?

I wouldn’t have been able to do this project without my advisors. The music I am working off of is handwritten copies from the 1700s, so sometimes it’s quite hard to decipher what the music actually says. Also the German script is not easy to understand, because of my advisor the songs have words.

What was your biggest obstacle?

Distance has been my biggest obstacle. I was in constant contact with the archivists in North Carolina and in Germany. Some days I would have to put my project on hold until I heard back from one of them.

What has been your biggest takeaway from this experience?

The biggest takeaway was getting a chance to listen to the pieces I worked on. It was always a highlight after spending a day inputting music in Finale that I could then listen to a rough cut of what the song would eventually sound like. It was an incredible honor to get to listen to a song that hasn’t been played in hundreds of years. Also the fact that I was able to work in three different Moravian archives in one summer was so amazing.

What was the result of your project? Was it congruent with your hypothesis?

I worked on three songs this summer. I compared each piece in the different locations. I was looking for differences in the copies, which I found in one of my songs. One song had completely different music for the same song, which is an exciting discovery.

Will you expand on your research after this summer is over? If so, where would you like to see it go?

I will continue to do research, two of my songs are not yet complete so I will work with the archives until they are finished. These songs that I have edited will be submitted for publication and will hopefully be picked up by the publishing company and be published by the Moravian Music Foundation.