Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award

Spring 6-11-2023

Document Type

Thesis (Master's)

Department or Program

Graduate Music

First Advisor

Ashley Fure

Second Advisor

César Alvarez

Third Advisor

Alison Martin


Why Not Be Free? is an interdisciplinary exploration of music intervention development demonstrating the application of my integrated research and artistic practices through an outlined antiracist method for designing music to reduce stress in Black college youth and a manifesto detailing the compositional process. I draw from Black feminist and womanist thought, music cognition, and public health literature to outline a framework for designing music interventions to reduce stress among Black populations: the Music Medicine Critical Race Praxis. I situate my work among Black speculative artists reimagining experiences in everyday Black life as well as music intervention researchers integrating creative and research practices in the design of music-guided slow-breathing interventions. I synthesize the radical Black worldmaking practices of the artists with scientific evidence to highlight the capacity for music to sustain Black aliveness through the cultivation of altered states of being and collective well-being. The manifesto hones in on the core performance elements of the work--breath and music--to elucidate how breathing sustains Black aliveness and the ongoing movement toward liberatory Black futures by synthesizing perspectives across performance studies and Black worldmaking perspectives. These analyses are juxtaposed with anecdotes and documentation from the compositional process to illuminate the development of The Breathing Suite cosmology from my own everyday Black, lived experiences. Altogether, this thesis outlines the development of my arts intervention praxis, my approach integrating research and composition to develop methods and intermedia performances that foster collective well-being—Black aliveness.


Link to April 2023 Workshop Performance of The Breathing Suite (unedited):


Poet, Composer: Armond Dorsey

Performer 1: Eli Berman (voice)

Performer 2: Charles Peoples III (voice)

Performer 3: Mac Waters (viola, voice)

TheBreathingSuite_FULLDRAFT.pdf (3512 kB)
April 2023 draft of the score for The Breathing Suite, composed and written by Armond Dorsey.