Date of Submission

Spring 2018

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Music

Project Advisor 1

James Bagwell

Abstract/Artist's Statement

The Process:

My project was originally called Seven Stages of “Griffe.” The term “griffe” was a racial category describing people who are three quarters black and one quarter white, which is my actual genetic makeup. My original plan was to analyze the history of the term and reference it in seven songs representing the seven stages of grief, and create a long music video to open up dialogue about the racial definitions we ascribe ourselves to. The project changed when I reached an impasse in my historical research, given that the term was obsolete by the 18th century and had not been referenced at all since.

My research then began to lean toward mixed representation and identity in visual art, music, and film primarily in the U.S. to reference in my video that features interviews with Bard students about their struggles with mixed race identity.

The Project:

In “Black And Grey,” the music video and song I composed for my project, I put perceptions of Afro mixed race identity in juxtaposition with Bard students who have their own stories to tell about what it means to be Afro mixed race, in an ambitious attempt to turn outdated notions of identity on their heads.

Through the medium of music and film I hope to remind the viewer of the U.S. and Europe’s unpleasant past with Afro mixed race people, while alluding to unpleasant, pressing issues of today. These issues include the controversy around racial categories in the U.S. census, and the continued use of hypodescent, an arguably outdated method of racial categorization primarily associated with the “one drop rule,”- the idea that if a mixed person has any genetic/familial background with a minority group, they are automatically assigned to that minority group and cannot identify with the majority.

The Composition:

“Black and Grey” features a fusion of jazz, electronic, and classical influence, in an attempt to manifest mixed race identity in a multicultural sound. I feature the upright bass used in both classical and jazz music sonically code-switching between the two genres, using the classic bow at some points and plucking improvisational jazz at others; the sax maintaining jazz style; a psychedelic electric bass guitar; and a versatile piano and percussion performance that assumes the character of all three genres and then transcends them altogether.

Along with the instruments, I purposefully used classical singers and jazz singers to create a sonically mixed choir. Then, with the help of sound editing and recording multiple tracks, I gave the choir a ghostly quality to allude to a limbo state of racial/cultural ambiguity.

Open Access Agreement

Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Black And Grey.aif (174175 kB)
Black and Grey Recording

Black and Grey Promo.mov (309240 kB)
Black and Grey Promo

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