Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Music


Music Performance

First Advisor

David S. Herring


Mark Applebaum is an American composer and Professor of Composition at Stanford University who has made significant contributions to contemporary music. His music has been performed all over the world and his popularity as a composer continues to increase. The experimental nature of his music and his continual innovation and creativity makes his music worthy of study. However, there has been no scholarly research done on his music. Because of this void, a study of his music is needed and would be valuable to both performers and scholars alike.

The oeuvre of Mark Applebaum is vast and includes music written in traditional mediums as well as those that are unorthodox. The author has chosen to limit the focus of this document to nine acoustic percussion works. Using these selected works, this document will provide an analysis of certain compositional traits that illustrate the composer’s eccentric compositional style. Applebaum has written many other pieces for chamber ensembles and, large ensembles, as well as electro-acoustic compositions that contain similar compositional traits, as well as exceptional percussion writing. While in general these works are beyond the scope of this document, some will be referenced briefly if they are pertinent to the concepts being discussed.

As of the date of completion of this paper, there is no existing research on these works and it is intended that the document may be used in further research of the music of Mark Applebaum. In addition, given that this document focuses on Mark Applebaum’s acoustic percussion works, it is the writer’s hope that it will be a valuable source of information in the percussion community.

The document is divided into five chapters. Chapter one contains a biography of Mark Applebaum as well as an introduction to his music. Chapter two focuses on specific compositional ideas that illustrate Mark Applebaum’s unorthodox method of composition. This involves an analysis of four major percussion works, each of which were constructed using compositional ideas that involve a complex process of generating musical material. Chapter three focuses on ways that rhythm and meter are used with examples taken from several works. Chapter four focuses on the use of indeterminacy and improvisation. Finally, chapter five will take a detailed look at the visual and theatrical elements found in much of Mark Applebaum’s music.


© 2017, Richard Shane Reeves