Awake, Awake (2014)

for voice, alto flute, banjo, pedal steel guitar, electric guitar, and cello

 

This piece is a combination of two musical ideas. The first is the vocalist’s part, which is essentially a transcription of North Carolina ballad singer Dillard Chandler’s rendition of the song “Awake, awake.” This song is no. 57 in Cecil Sharp’s collection English folk songs in Appalachia. There are many versions of this song, but I was struck by both Chandler’s performance and the specific lyrics that his version utilizes. I placed this transcription against a pulsating, repetitive, and spacey accompaniment in the instruments. The two elements (song and accompaniment) are not synchronized exactly. It was my goal to present the ballad very plainly and set it against an accompaniment that is both complimentary and argumentative.