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A Daily Battle for Inspiration

Photo by Dan Rubin.

Photo by Dan Rubin.

Friday November 21st 2014

It was too cold to play again. Today was so hard. I really wanted to work on our opera for the new album. I got my violin out, but just sat there and put my head in my hands. I felt so totally overwhelmed. I’ve never written an opera before. I felt like I was in over my head. I want us to have a clear outline of songs to give Michael and Rhan when we arrive in Oakland. Usually we just improvise to create new songs. I’m not used to practicing ostinatos at home. I like to practice in privacy, but we’re always living with people. Our roommate Aaron wasn’t home all day. We had created a few ostinatos yesterday and I went into the hall to practice them. I need to make sound with my voice while practicing because I have to get used to singing while playing. That’s the tough part. I can create as many ostinatos as I want, but I have to sing with them. “If it was easy, you’d see a lot more singing violinist.” Thoth said. Right. As I was playing, my E string popped in my face. That didn’t help me feel better. Thoth didn’t have the proper E string for me, so we had to go out to get a new one.

We went to Sam Ash on 34th Street. It was freezing outside. I plucked on a cello on the wall. “We can have Rhan just pluck open strings and we have a piece. It doesn’t have to be complicated.” I said to Thoth. We went home, feeling more inspired. To no one’s surprise, I got my period. That’s why I was feeling sad! We continued creating ostinatos and practiced singing with them at home. At night, we ordered food and continued practicing. Thoth came up with an ostinatos in 13. We’ll probably use it for the torture scene. It’s really hard to play and sing to! Thoth can. I started loosening up as the evening went on. I sang as stupidly as I could while playing. It helped loosen me up. “It’s a battle every day to get you inspired.” Thoth said. This is a new way of creating music for me. Usually we just make music spontaneously, then imagine what it’s about later. For the opera, we’ve written a synopsis and scene breakdown for each song and now we’re writing the music.

I listened to Meredith Monk’s opera Atlas for inspiration. Her music is similar to ours. She creates a repetitive phrase, then creates vocal phrases over top. It’s so beautiful in it’s simplicity. I first discovered her through my acting teacher Andrew Kimbrough. He gave me the task of creating music for Ariel’s songs in The Tempest back in college. I’d never written music before and I was terrified. Her music helped me think simply. It’s funny now that 7 years have passed and now I create music in a similar style. I never knew I would be creating original music for a living. I’m so glad I am. It’s hard work, but much more satisfying than singing other people’s music. I’m only 26 and I’ve created 3 albums and am now embarking on a new form of music creation: opera! My biggest dream long ago was to be in Cirque Du Soleil and play a singing character. Now my dream is to write our own opera and have it staged in a theatre with Thoth and I as the main characters.