Waart, Edo de. 56 Wachmann, Eduard 56

Workers’ Music Association

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Workers’ Music Association.

British organization. It came into being in 1936, when a number of choirs in the London Labour Choral Union and Co-operative Musical Association (then embracing some 44 choirs and five orchestras) came together to ‘coordinate workers’ musical activity’. Their need was music that reflected the world outlook of their members and the means to create and perform such music. The objects of the WMA are to provide opportunities and means for people to develop their musical instincts and tastes and so to improve the level of their musical understanding as a result of their own strivings and experiences, rather than accept uncritically standards set by commercial or other interests. It sets out to encourage the composition and performance of music which expresses the ideals and aims of humanity for an improvement of society where social justice is seen as being the norm. Around 1939 it issued records through the Topic record company. The WMA has direct contacts with national and local trade union organizations, has affiliations from choirs and bands in London and the provinces and runs a summer school every August in Yorkshire. Its London choir, the WMA Singers, is well known to progressive audiences in London and the Home Counties. In 1999 there were about 200 members.

Works Progress Administration [WPA], Federal Music Project of the.

The US government's most ambitious programme to aid musicians left destitute by the Depression. Instituted in May 1935 as part of the Four Arts Project of the WPA, the Federal Music Project built on the musical activities of the earlier Federal Emergency Relief Administration and the Civil Works Administration. Under the able leadership of its first national director, Nikolai Sokoloff (1935–9), the project focussed on the employment of musicians as performers in orchestras, concert and dance bands, chamber music and choral ensembles, and opera companies. Statistics for the period January 1936 to April 1940 show 250,000 performances reaching an audience of 159 million. At its peak in 1936, the project employed over 15,000 people in 42 states and the District of Columbia. Other activities sponsored by the project included the Composers' Forum Laboratories, extensive music education and recreation programmes, music festivals, radio broadcasts, the collecting and recording of American folk music, experimental music therapy programmes and various music copying and research projects.

On 1 September 1939 the project was transferred to state control as the WPA Music Program. Under the direction of Earl Vincent Moore (1939–40) and George Foster (1940–43) the educational and recreational aspects of music were emphasized and the state music projects became increasingly involved in the national defence effort. Most Music Program activities ceased with the outbreak of World War II, although they were not officially terminated until July 1943.

Among the publications of the Federal Music Project are the unfinished Index of American Composers, the Index of American Orchestral Works Recommended by WPA Music Project Conductors (Washington DC, 1941), Marian Hannah Winter's Art Scores for Music (New York, 1939) and, in conjunction with the Federal Writers' Project, The Spanish-American Song and Game Book (New York, 1942). Other WPA-sponsored publications involving music include collections of folk music of Mississippi, West Virginia, Nebraska and Kentucky, a reprint of the 1854 edition of William Walker's shape-note tune book The Southern Harmony (New York, 1939), an edition of the early American comic opera The Disappointment, or, The Force of Credulity (New York, 1935), the seven-volume History of Music in San Francisco (San Francisco, 1939–42) and the valuable Bio-bibliographical Index of Musicians in the United States of America from Colonial Times (Washington DC, 1941, 2/1958).


N. Sokoloff: The Federal Music Project (Washington DC, 1936)

C.B. Canon: The Federal Music Project of the Works Progress Administration: Music in a Democracy (diss., U. of Minnesota, 1963)

W.F. McDonald: Federal Relief Administration and the Arts (Columbus, OH, 1969)

K.E. Hendrickson jr: ‘Politics of Culture: the Federal Music Project in Oklahoma’, Chronicles of Oklahoma, lxiii/4 (1985–6), 360–75

M. Kroeger: ‘The Federal Music Project in Denver, 1935–1941’, American Music Research Center Journal, iii (1993), 50–64

K.J. Bindas: All of this Music Belongs to the Nation: the WPA's Federal Music Project and American Society (Knoxville, TN, 1995)


World Saxophone Quartet [WSQ].

American jazz group. It was founded in 1976 by David Murray (tenor saxophone), Oliver Lake (alto), Julius Hemphill (alto) and Hamiet Bluiett (baritone). As a corollary to the free jazz principle that a solo concert might be given on any instrument (not just the traditional unaccompanied jazz instruments, piano and guitar), the World Saxophone Quartet invented the now widely imitated idea that a jazz band need not have a conventional rhythm section. With bass lines and harmony conveyed instead by means of Bluiett’s biting sound in combination with rhythmic harmonized ostinatos, each member took a turn as a melodic soloist; this approach typically alternated with passages of unmetred collective improvisation. The Quartet’s consistently brilliant live performances have been difficult to capture in the studio, where their music takes on a certain sameness despite stylistically wide-ranging ventures into free jazz, rhythm and blues, and jazz standards. Their most successful recordings have been made in collaboration with three African percussionists and, on some tracks, a bass guitarist; the first such disc, Metamorphosis, dates from 1990 (Elektra Nonesuch), shortly after Arthur Blythe replaced Hemphill. In the mid-1990s, after further changes in personnel, the soprano and alto saxophonist John Purcell joined Lake, Murray and Bluiett as a regular member of the group.


C.J. Safane: ‘The World Saxophone Quartet’, Down Beat, xlvi/16 (1979), 26–9, 66 only

B. Primack: ‘The World Saxophone Quartet’s Metamorphosis’, JT, xxi/5 (1991), 30 only

B. Bernatos: ‘The World Saxophone Quartet’, Windplayer, x/1 (1993), 14

H. Boyd: ‘World Saxophone Quartet: New Life after Julius’, Down Beat, lxiii/9 (1996), 22–4, 26 only [incl. discography]

J. Ephland: ‘Setting the Record Straight: Julius & the World Sax Quartet’, Down Beat, lxiii/12 (1996), 15 only

W. Jenkins: ‘World Saxophone Quartet: Higher Ground’, Jazz Times, xxvii/3 (1997), 38–41, 128 only


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