William R. Bauer studies the ways people use music to organize their actions, coordinate their interactions with others, express meaning, communicate ideas and feelings, and arrive at a deeper understanding of one another. A composer-improviser by training and temperament, Dr. Bauer brings a background in theater and dance to his work as a musicologist and teacher. The variety of experiences he has had in the performing arts serves as a point of reference for his exploration into the wide range of techniques people need in order to reach out and touch others through music. Dr. Bauer's theoretical investigations address the practical issues that people face when making music. Through his research, Dr. Bauer seeks to help his students, his colleagues, and himself to become better musicians, more effective artists, more powerful communicators, and more highly inspired teachers.
BS, Empire State College/SUNY
MA, Columbia University
MPhil, CUNY Graduate Center
PhD CUNY Graduate Center
Dr. Bauer wrote his first book, Open the Door: The Life and Music of Betty Carter, about a singer whose respect among her fellow jazz musicians belied her lack of fame in the mainstream. The book addresses not only the formal aspects of Carter's improvisations but also the physical techniques that empowered her to release emotion into her renderings of song lyrics and melodies. The first book about a jazz singer to contain musical examples, this biography goes into considerable depth about the ways that one female increased her command over the mechanisms of musical production in an industry dominated by men. Dr. Bauer's current project, a book about the jazz singer and trumpeter Louis Armstrong, goes all the way back to the very roots of the jazz vocal tradition. In this work, Dr. Bauer studies the ways one improvising singer used the sound of words or scat syllables to sculpt meaning for his listeners. Through this research, Dr. Bauer paints a multi-layered picture of the prosody of jazz performance practice, showing how the rhythms of everyday speech and poetry heighten jazz musicians' expression by intensifying and stylizing the nonverbal elements of language that suffuse music. "Spoken words carry verbal meaning, of course," says Bauer, "but they also ride on the melodic line we improvise to bring our ideas to life." Dr. Bauer's research into the system of music education devised by Emile Jaques Dalcroze grows from his interest in the mental mapping that goes into to such diverse activities as composing, improvising, performing, and listening.