The brotherhood symphony: a musical analysis of martin luther king, jr's. "i have a dream" sermon

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Walter, Scott Russell
Analysis; King; Martin; Music; Sermon; Symphony; African American Studies; Rhetoric
thesis / dissertation description
Martin Luther King, Jr's. "I Have a Dream" sermon is a masterpiece within the African-American sermonic tradition. As part of this affective-sermonic tradition, "I Have a Dream" contains sonic features that function much like musical elements within a symphony. Representing the sermon, or, "The Brotherhood Symphony," in an analytical notation completely absent of text meaning, reveals how sound parallels text meaning in communicating the message. Sound - which encompasses everything from the sound and organization of the text chanted by King and the participants, to the use of common musical elements like pitch, timbre, rhythm, meter, amplitude, and articulation - informs all aspects of the sermon from moment-to-moment events to large-scale formal properties. The overall message of the sermon is the result of a sophisticated intertwining of both text meaning and sound.