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My culminating experience project explores and emphasizes music as a vehicle for storytelling. The project features a 20 minute long composition for a 5 piece chamber ensemble plus jazz quartet that follows the narration of a Cherokee folktale “Atagahi,” which both evokes a sense of wonder, mystery, and respect towards nature, and warns us what might happen if we abandon this respect. The narration simply guides the listeners’ imaginations in the right direction, allowing the music to do a majority of the storytelling. Music has the ability to evoke a nuanced sense of setting, atmosphere, and character, and can immerse any listener in an abstract, but uniquely vivid journey. Using narration as an accompaniment to the music will allow this storytelling capability of music to be fully realized, as the narration will simply guide the listener, providing a bit of concrete imagery to the abstract musical story. The unique instrumentation reflects the oral nature of folktales; the chamber ensemble can play complex, arranged passages, and the jazz quartet can replicate the improvisational aspects of oral storytelling. I hope that this project will help to reintroduce music as a storytelling medium and make challenging music more digestible to modern audiences.
chamber music; jazz; storytelling; Cherokee; folktale
Sudol, Andre, "Atagahi the Enchanted Lake: Musical Storytelling and Human's Relationship with Nature" (2022). Global Jazz. 120.