Skip to Content

School of Music

Faculty and Staff

David Kirkland Garner

Title: Assistant Professor of Composition and Theory
School of Music
Phone: 803-777-8365

School of Music Room 218


David Kirkland Garner writes chamber, orchestral, electroacoustic, and vocal works often drawing on other music as a point of departure, from Beethoven to bluegrass. A frequent source of inspiration is the music of the American South. He is especially interested in aspects of performance surrounding the tunes themselves including style, technique, tuning, timbre, instrumentation, and improvisation. Even when he is not using traditional music as inspiration, Garner strives to write music with the qualities many traditional musics exude: emotional clarity, visceral rhythmic energy, and melody rooted in song.
Garner is interested in the rich recorded history of early roots music, our cultural fascination with, as Greil Marcus puts it, the "Old, Weird America,” Southern banjo styles, and Cape Breton traditional fiddle and piano music. His work on the banjo can be found on the Banjology website that he co-created. His scholarship on Cape Breton fiddling, centering around analytical study of tempo, was recently published by the MUSICultures journal of the Canadian Journal for Traditional Music.

Garner has worked with world-renowned ensembles including the Kronos Quartet, which commissioned a work based on the music of the Scottish diaspora. Awards include a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, an ASCAP Young Composer Award, and first prizes in the OSSIA, Red Note, and NACUSA competitions. His music has been performed by the Ciompi Quartet, Vega Quartet, San Deigo Symphony, Locrian Chamber Ensemble, the Wet Ink Ensemble, the Boston New Music Initiative, and the yMusic ensemble. He is currently working on a new work for fiddle and string quartet commissioned by the Ciompi Quartet to be premiered in Spring, 2017.

Garner holds degrees from Duke University (PhD, 2014), University of Michigan (MM, 2007), and Rice University (BM 2005), and has taught music theory and aural skills at Duke, Kennesaw State, North Carolina State, and Elon Universities.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.