Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Music

First Advisor

Christopher Berg


Gunther Schuller coined the term “third stream” in 1957 as a reference for a style of music that blends the practices of both the classical and the jazz traditions. Despite a fair critical reception and the efforts of like-minded musicians and composers, third stream as a musical concept failed to achieve much commercial success, and by the 1970s it was considered a passing modernist fad. Nonetheless, the fusion of classical and popular musical genres that embodies spirit of third stream thrives today, although most practitioners tend to neglect the term itself. The purpose of this document is to examine the history and current climate surrounding third stream music as it relates to the classical guitar.

After an analysis of the history and critical and commercial reception of third stream music, this document will analyze the works of three guitarists whose work represents a fusion of the classical and jazz genres: Frederic Hand, Ralph Towner, and Ken Hatfield. Additionally, the author will explore what the implications of third stream music mean for the contemporary generation of classical guitarists who may have been exposed to or trained in musical genres and styles outside of the Western art tradition.