Advisor(s) - Committee Chair
Bennie Beach, Wayne Hobbs, David Livingston
Master of Music
I wrote this work with the nation's Bicentennial Celebration in mind. I was completed on Dec. 1, 1975. I hope the musicians who perform it will do so with the same attitude of pride in being an American that I feel and that I experienced as I wrote it.
The underlying motive, in the beginning, was to write a "Bicentennial piece" that would be totally different from other works that would be most surely coming out in the '75-'76 Bicentennial year. I chose the vocal medium first because the ability to sing is God's gift to man. It is 'natural' music. I chose the brass accompaniment because of the power of the instruments themselves, hinting at the power of the nation. I chose percussion to add flare, variety, and vitality, the very pulse and drive of the nation. To my knowledge, the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, and the Pledge to the Flag had never before been set to music as I did in America Sings. These are relatively obscure documents in the music world and yet so vital to America's history. I combined the two: 4 significant documents in the history of the nation, and musical treatise. Finally, the original status of these documents was that they were to be read or recited; so the Narrator provides the continuing story of why America Sings.
There are two basic musical ideas that seem to recur throughout the piece. One is the use if V-I-V scale degree pattern in both vocal and brass parts. This recurring pattern gives the feeling of "looking upward." The other is a recurring I-V melody bass pattern in the tuba and timpani parts, implying an old American march.
The piece is in oratorio form.
Arts and Humanities | Composition | Music | Music Performance
Cates, William Jr., "America Sings: An Oratorio for Mixed Choir, Brass, Percussion, Narrator" (1976). Masters Theses & Specialist Projects. Paper 2221.