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William Grant Still: Eclectic Religionist

William Grant Still: Eclectic Religionist William Grant Still: Eclectic Religionist fon Michael Spencer In 1961 William Grant Still, the "dean of Afro-American com­ posers," prepared a speech to be given at South Carolina State Col­ lege, a black institution in Orangeburg, during which he commented on the importance of inspiration in composing. Answering his own question regarding what inspiration is, he responded: "It comes as a result of lifting the individual to the place where he can contact and assimilate a divine emanation. The layman doesn't realize the extent of the effort required to accomplish this, and yet without that divine spark, our human creative efforts are meaningless. No amount of craftsmanship can compensate for its lack." Only once before had Still given a detailed description of how inspiration actually felt to the composer. In a 1936 essay titled "The Art of Musical Creation," in the Rosicrucian Fellowship Magazine, he wrote: "This seems very much like a pleasing electrical current that rushes from the top of the head down to the heart. The heart feels as though it were expand­ ing with joy. Then the current rises as quickly as it descended, pro­ ducing a tingling sensation throughout the head, and causing the upper http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Black Sacred Music Duke University Press

William Grant Still: Eclectic Religionist

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Copyright
Copyright © 1994 by Duke University Press
ISSN
1043-9455
eISSN
2640-9879
DOI
10.1215/10439455-8.1.135
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

William Grant Still: Eclectic Religionist fon Michael Spencer In 1961 William Grant Still, the "dean of Afro-American com­ posers," prepared a speech to be given at South Carolina State Col­ lege, a black institution in Orangeburg, during which he commented on the importance of inspiration in composing. Answering his own question regarding what inspiration is, he responded: "It comes as a result of lifting the individual to the place where he can contact and assimilate a divine emanation. The layman doesn't realize the extent of the effort required to accomplish this, and yet without that divine spark, our human creative efforts are meaningless. No amount of craftsmanship can compensate for its lack." Only once before had Still given a detailed description of how inspiration actually felt to the composer. In a 1936 essay titled "The Art of Musical Creation," in the Rosicrucian Fellowship Magazine, he wrote: "This seems very much like a pleasing electrical current that rushes from the top of the head down to the heart. The heart feels as though it were expand­ ing with joy. Then the current rises as quickly as it descended, pro­ ducing a tingling sensation throughout the head, and causing the upper

Journal

Black Sacred MusicDuke University Press

Published: Mar 1, 1994

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