Contemporary Compositions for Trumpet by Black American Composers in an Era of Unrest and Change: Regina Harris Baiocchi’s Miles Per Hour, Alvin Singleton’s Vous Compra, and Alice Jones’s A handful of sand
This dissertation focuses on three works for solo trumpet by Black American composers:Miles Per Hour (1990) by Regina Harris Baiocchi, Vous Compra (2001) by Alvin Singleton, and A handful of sand (2020) by Alice Jones. Trained in Western art music, these composers have incorporated Black American music aesthetics into their creative work. The three pieces studied closely here feature improvisational dimensions related to jazz practices. All three works have attracted significant attention in the context of social unrest and impulses for change following the killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. Following an introductory chapter, including a literature review and methodology overview, the main body of this dissertation presents three chapters dedicated to the compositions in focus. These chapters include profiles of the composers, analyses of the selected works, discussions of matters of reception, and performance insights. Trumpet players unfamiliar or uneasy with improvisation should find the performance remarks especially valuable. The analytical approach stems from Judy Lochhead’s Reconceiving Structure in Contemporary Music: New Tools in Music Theory and Analysis (2015), as well as the work of Horace J. Maxile Jr. and Portia K. Maultsby. Information and perspectives gleaned through my personal interviews with each of the composers also inform these chapters. The fifth and final chapter, “Diversifying Music Curriculum,” explores inclusive music curriculum practices, and includes lesson plan recommendations for Miles Per Hour, Vous Compra, and A handful of sand. Concluding remarks encourage scholars, educators, and performers to extend this spotlight on music by contemporary Black American composers into the pedagogical sphere, embracing its social and cultural relevance, in the hope that our musical communities will nurture allies for inclusivity who will impact the broader public sphere.