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Dahlke, Andrew

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David Baker was an American composer, performer, and pedagogue who wrote over 2000 works during the course of his career. Baker’s output spans a wide variety of genres and styles, including compositions for jazz band, symphony orchestra, choir, and various chamber ensembles. Using elements from his background in both jazz and classical music, Baker’s musical language is one that creates a true synthesis of styles, especially when writing in a third stream context. Additionally, Baker was inspired by African American figures from his past, and often wrote music honoring those who came before him. In this way, Baker adds his own compositional voice to the narrative of African American culture, engaging with a deep tradition known as Signifyin(g). This research focuses on Baker’s third stream work Singers of Songs/Weavers of Dreams for cello and percussion. Not only does this piece blend jazz and classical elements, but Baker honors a different Black music icon in each movement by Signifyin(g) on each musician’s particular style. Although it was intended for classical performers, Singers of Songs/Weavers of Dreams poses unique challenges for the classically-trained musician. This document serves as a starting point for the musician unfamiliar with the jazz languages and styles used throughout the piece, through discussion of historical and stylistic background of the music, analysis of representative recordings, and analysis of jazz and classical elements within each movement. Finally, contemporary classical music boasts an increasing range of influences. Performers can use a similar approach not only preparing Baker’s works, but those with a wide range of stylistic elements.


97 pages

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Copyright is held by the author.