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The music of Michael Daugherty (b. 1954) music borrows from all forms of American popular culture, from Barbie to Liberace.  He is widely acclaimed as a gifted composer with a truly original voice.  He is currently a Professor of composition of the University of Michigan, for whose excellent bands he has produced much original music.

Daugherty wrote Alligator Alley in 2003 on a commission from the American Composers Forum for their educational BandQuest series.  He wrote it as a bassoon feature for his daughter, who was then in middle school.  It has quickly gained popularity as both a bassoon feature and Daugherty’s only work accessible to younger bands.

Program note at

Michael Daugherty’s website.

Daugherty bio on wikipedia.

There is a good recording (accurate, if not exactly spirited) from Hal Leonard.  Don’t mind the beeps during the piece.  These are Hal Leonard’s effort at copy protection.

Now on YouTube: bad versions of this piece abound, since it purports to be a middle school piece.  But this performance is good.  Don’t mind the trash-talkers in the comments: this band gets it mostly right!

BONUS: an interview with Michael Daugherty about all aspects of music.  This is just part one – if you like it, check out the rest!

This was a Senior Choice picked by bassoonist Eric Hirsch ’09.


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