Sociopolitical Influences in Three Works for the Saxophone by Shrude, Hindman, and Olson

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2021-05

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Abstract

This essay will study works for the saxophone by three composers, living and working in the U.S.A., that present a social, cultural, or political commentary: Trope (2007) by Marilyn Shrude (b. 1964), 13 for 3 Through 5 (2014) by Dorothy Hindman (b. 1966), and Supreme (2019) by Tawnie Olson (b. 1974). It will investigate the specific sociopolitical issue that inspired each composition and consider how the issue has informed and influenced the compositional process. It will identify similarities between the pieces and seek to bring more attention to this ever-expanding category of music for the saxophone by contemporary composers.

In these selected works, each composer has explicitly stated that their music is in response to a political, cultural, or social issue. Shrude's composition considers universal themes of struggle and emancipation through the use of the protest song, "We Shall Overcome" which serves as source material; Hindman includes fragments of the Sesame Street Theme Song in a work that is inspired by the ways in which Sesame Street portrays changing childhood experiences through the creation of characters who deal with issues including food insecurity, parental incarceration, and military deployment; Olson comments on issues of gender equality and representation by encoding the names of three female Supreme Court Justices within her work. In this study, I will examine the compositional processes used by the composers to explore the ways in which the sociopolitical issues have influenced the works.

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Keywords

Saxophone, Sociopolitical influences, Contemporary composers

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