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1. Roberts, Phillip Christopher. Her em Iteru (On the Nile).

Degree: DMA, College-Conservatory of Music: Composition, 2017, University of Cincinnati

Her em Iteru serves as the culmination of my studies into Egyptological musicology andarcheological composition. The materials borrowed from Ancient Egyptian sources include thetext, from the Papyrus of Ani, otherwise known as the Book of the Dead, from 1500-1400 B.C.E.and the Egyptian enharmonic scale, recorded by the Ptolemaic Greeks in a method that has sincebeen translated and deciphered. Other materials reflect more closely my personal style as acomposer, including a propensity for atmospheric slow movements emphasizing sevenths, andfaster movements or sections containing a “groove” or ostinato.While the translations are provided, the piece is sung entirely in the Ancient Egyptianlanguage. The first poem speaks of plowing one’s fields on the banks of the Nile, both worldlyand in the afterlife where the rewards may be reaped. The second setting includes many utteranceof the word “Ankh,” Egyptian for life. It paints the perspective of a mother after childbirth,thanking the Gods that both she and the newborn live. The opening and closing sections of thismovement utilize notes from the only extant scale of Egyptian antiquity, to which ancient harpswere tuned. These five notes make up the first chord played on the harp, evoking an atmospherefrom thousands of years past. The third movement depicts both celebration and fear at theflooding of the Nile, a yearly event upon which Ancient Egyptians depended for successfulharvest. Movement four serves as an interlude, with no vocal part, introducing much of the pitchand timbral materials of the final movement. The last of the set alludes to the Makhent boat, onwhich the Sun God Ra was said to ferry souls to the afterlife at day’s end. The ostinato evokes aslow barge flowing down the river, with its major seventh interval borrowed from the second,and mirror technique from the third movement. This intervallic mirror corresponds to a vowelpalindrome seen in the words “Ra auaait.” Advisors/Committee Members: Fiday, Michael (Committee Chair).

Subjects/Keywords: Music; Soprano; Music; Ancient; Egypt; Heiroglyphics; Song Cycle

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APA (6th Edition):

Roberts, P. C. (2017). Her em Iteru (On the Nile). (Doctoral Dissertation). University of Cincinnati. Retrieved from

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

Roberts, Phillip Christopher. “Her em Iteru (On the Nile).” 2017. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Cincinnati. Accessed May 23, 2018.

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

Roberts, Phillip Christopher. “Her em Iteru (On the Nile).” 2017. Web. 23 May 2018.


Roberts PC. Her em Iteru (On the Nile). [Internet] [Doctoral dissertation]. University of Cincinnati; 2017. [cited 2018 May 23]. Available from:

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Roberts PC. Her em Iteru (On the Nile). [Doctoral Dissertation]. University of Cincinnati; 2017. Available from: