First Advisor

Christopher Whyte

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Music (B.M.) in Music: Performance and University Honors






Transgender, Composition, Music, Non-binary, Instrumental




Because of the expressive capabilities of art, the LGBTQ+ community has long been associated with music. My thesis aims to explore and inform the compositional process of transgender and non-binary (gender non-conforming) composers. While researching this topic, most of the articles I was able to find were concerned with the physical and social difficulties transgender vocalists experience. Due to this gap in the academic discourse, I decided to focus on the compositional process for instrumental pieces of music in order to understand some of the specific difficulties that surround transgender instrumentalists. In order to understand this process, in addition to researching the topic, I conducted an interview with composer Sarah Hennies, a transgender woman whose music deals with a wide range of sociopolitical issues, namely queer and transgender identity. Hennies discussed how her experiences as a transgender woman influenced her compositional process, from instrument selection to the conceptualization of her music. In response to my findings, I composed a percussion duet titled Transgressions (Body + Soul) that explores the dichotomy between gender non-conforming people's perceived self and their physical appearance. Throughout the composition, I highlight diametrical elements, such as the timbral differences between the two players, harmonic tension, and a constant shifting of the pulse to emphasize gender non-conforming peoples' differences between perception and reality. The goal of this project is to expand the visibility of gender non-conforming composers in order to normalize non-traditional perspectives in the realm of classical music.


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An undergraduate honors thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Music in University Honors and Percussion Performance.

Persistent Identifier

Transgressions (Body + Soul).pdf (1716 kB)
Sheet music of the piece "Transgressions (Body + Soul)"

Transgressions (Body + Soul).mp3 (9293 kB)
A recording of the piece "Transgressions (Body + Soul)"