DadAdrift (Washington DC)

Jan 25, 2016, 03:42 PM

Part of our Dada Sound project (February 2016) - see more at

By Jeff Dungfelder. ""Before composing “dadAdrift,” my reconstruction of the sample recording of “Take the A Train” performed by the “USA Washington DC Dupont Circle jazz buskers,” I researched and embraced the history of the Dada Movement and its rejection of traditional art standards and use of nonsense to represent the senselessness of war and violence. In the process, I also discovered an interesting backstory to the Duke Ellington signature tune, ""Take the A Train,” composed by Billy Strayhorn in 1939.

When Ellington first heard Strayhorn's song, he wanted to record it. He tracked down the composer and offered him a job and money to travel from Pittsburgh to New York City. To get to his home, Ellington told Strayhorn to “take the A train.” On the way, gripped by anxiety, Strayhorn threw his draft in the trash, believing his song sounded too much like a Fletcher Henderson arrangement. Eventually, Strayhorn’s song was retrieved from the trash and rebirthed as ""Take the A Train.” What Strayhorn designated as trash Ellington elevated into art.

Using the original sound sample of the ""jazz buskers” with the Dadaist doctrine in mind, I deconstructed and reimagined Strayhorn's song, which has become “dadAdrift.” What was ""thrown away” became what was “kept”."