Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Fine Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Everett McCorvey


William Grant Still was given the title “The Dean of African American Music” because of the many firsts he accomplished as an African American musician in the early twentieth century. He is known for fusing his African American musical tradition of Jazz and blues with the classical European musical tradition. This study explores one of Still’s most famous song cycles, “Songs of Separation,” in the arrangement for string quartet, voice, and piano. This document considers the instrumentation of the string quartet arrangement and how Still uses the instrumentation to enhance the character OF the poetry. This document also provides a performance guide that will facilitate a discussion of technical concepts applicable to singing, of vocal relationships between text and poetry, as well as historical information concerning William Grant Still and his relationship to the poets of the cycle. These poets include Arna Bontemps, Phillipe Thoby Marcelin, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Countee Cullen, and Langston Hughes.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)