Hall Johnson: A Biography and an Analytical Study of Selected Songs For Solo Voice and Piano

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



First Advisor

Albert E. Gower

Advisor Department



There has been no comprehensive stylistic and analytic study of Hall Johnson's major works for solo voice and piano. This investigation of his songs will give performing musicians access to the style and textural content of these compositions. The analyses are based on the study of Johnson's use of melody, harmony, rhythm, structure, form, texture, and folk idioms, along with his employment of Afro-American vocal devices. The sources of information for this study include the composer's scores, writings, and manuscripts. These, as well as articles, newspaper stories, and program notes, were obtained from the University of South Alabama, Tuskegee University, Talladega College, and The University of Southern Mississippi. Chapter I includes a statement of the purpose, the significance of the study, its scope and limitations, the procedures followed, and a definition of terms originated for this dissertation. Chapter II and III consist of a review of related literature and a short biography. Chapter IV is made up of five songs selected to represent Johnson's compositional techniques. Included are: "His Name So Sweet" (1925), "Honor! Honor!" (1925), "City Called Heaven" (1930), "Witness" (1940), and "The Foundling" (1970). Appended to the dissertation are a glossary of words from the Negro dialect, a list of thirty Negro spirituals used by Johnson, a chronology of Johnson's works, and a list of compositions. A final appendix documents the recital programs given in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Performance and Pedagogy.