The Golden Ratio as an Influencing Factor Within the Compositional Structure of Sung Through Musicals

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


The golden ratio (Φ) is a catalyst for the development and creation of numerous artefacts in art, music, architecture, and design, manifesting human cognizance of proportion and aesthetic beauty. Over a cultural history dating back thousands of years, scholars have been fascinated by its numerical occurrences in nature, leading to theories of constructional usage in creative practice. Documented testaments are scarce, hence the practical application of Φ usage in major pieces of art is often treated as a myth.
This thesis analyses selected sung-through commercial musicals (SCM) in search of significant plot and musical elements at Φ points calculated through time duration and bar count methods. The findings are subsequently disclosed, analysed and applied to an original sung through musical composed for this thesis. Documentation of the author’s development process through analysis techniques and musical composition demonstrates a devised time-based numerical system that could be utilised as a technique for the design of future musical theatre compositional form.
A Practice as Research approach with analysis upon SCM and the composed musical is exploited. Data was gathered from published scores and recordings, interviews with prolific composers and producers, and the incipient musical composed for this thesis, The Green Door (TGD). Based upon the processes developed through this research and practice, a time-based model of Φ durational structure is realised.
The thesis makes an original contribution to the field of musical composition. It demonstrates how to understand and clarify the results discovered through the devised model and compositional process. A study of Φ theory, durational grounded analysis of SCM, qualitative content analysis of approach and methods, and a discussion on the composition and model application upon the incipient musical is documented, encompassed by a critical reflective journey of the entire process.
The final devised model and research associated with the thesis journey has been undertaken so the results can be distributed and utilised by composers. This offers an alternative method and form of through composed musical composition based on Φ and plot point placement.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • McPherson, Gayle, Supervisor
  • Jeffery, Graham, Supervisor
Award date30 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Musicals
  • Golden Ratio


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