Date of Defense
Date of Graduation
In this recital, I explore themes of feminism and mental illness through mostly original compositions. Each piece has a specific meaning, brought out both lyrically and through instrumental ideas. From the feminist perspective, “Dolphy’s Dance” by Geri Allen serves as a tribute to Allen, one of the great performers and educators of our time. Her All-Female Jazz Residency had a direct impact on me, and her unexpected passing last year left a gaping hole in the jazz world.
Also from the feminist perspective comes an original, “Smashin’ the Patriarchy.” This juxtaposes an aggressive title with a simple melody, signifying the misconception that feminism is a militant force bent on the destruction of men. In reality, feminism presents a simple concept of equality, bent on destroying toxic masculinity that negatively affects all genders.
The two lyrical pieces, “Castles” and “Hide and Seek,” both deal with mental illness. “Castles” is about chasing manic delusions around one’s mind, while “Hide and Seek” addresses the issue of dissociation. Both these pieces apply to real events that have happened to me, where I’ve lost track of days and weeks because of these issues. The lyrical content is serious and floating but slightly tongue-in-cheek in places, expressing the toxic enjoyment that can blind one to the serious problem these issues present.
The final piece, “Creepy Crawlies,” expresses the mysterious and powerful phenomenon of tactile hallucinations. This has presented itself to me in a form that mimics synesthesia, where certain emotions trigger them. However, it has also presented itself as the worst symptom I’ve ever experienced, where it feels as if there are bugs crawling under my skin. The driving bass line in an odd meter provides a sense of off-kilter relentless energy, while the ending unison polyrhythm mimics the urgent need to crawl out of one’s skin.
Through this program, I hope to enlighten and raise awareness to mental health issues that are rarely talked about. I also hope to bring to light the positive and powerful impact of feminism and how important it is in today’s society. Being a mentally ill individual in a male-dominated field can be tough, and I hope to educate my colleagues about my experience.
Blosser, Samantha, "Coping Skills" (2018). Honors Theses. 2940.
Honors Thesis-Open Access