Michael Flynn

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Music



First Advisor

Dr. Lisa Coons

Second Advisor

Richard Adams, D.M.A

Third Advisor

Christopher Biggs, D.M.A.

Fourth Advisor

Maria Cristina Fava, Ph.D.


Music, contemporary, ensemble, post-minimalism, program music

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The Sunlight Cycle is a work in four movements which evokes certain time periods within a 24-hour day. In order of number, the movements are meant to represent dawn, daytime, twilight, and night, respectively. Each movement transitions seamlessly into the next, with Mvt. 4, “Nocturnal,” transitioning back to the beginning of Mvt. 1, “Matutinal”. This cyclical nature allows for a performance of the cycle to begin with any of the four movements. Theoretically, the work can repeat indefinitely.

Musically, the work develops in three main areas: harmony, rhythm, and timbre. Harmonically, the work is tonal, featuring extended and altered triadic sonorities. Each movement uses a small number of total sonorities, allowing other musical parameters to develop within a firmly established foundation of pitch. Rhythmically, Mvt. 2, “Diurnal,” and Mvt. 3, “Crepuscular,” utilize repetitive structures that gradually change over time as well as rapidly changing meters, which combine to create create a dynamically shifting sense of groove. Mvt. 1, “Matutinal,” and Mvt. 4, “Nocturnal,” feature drawn-out, lethargic phrases punctuated by sudden, short, and energetic rhythmic gestures. Timbrally, the work develops on both the ensemble and individual levels. This complex sonic palate is created through dynamic, quickly changing orchestration and the use of extended instrumental techniques.