Writing Idiomatically for Voice and Instruments – Dosia McKay – Composer Interview Part 1

Writing Idiomatically for Voice and Instruments - Dosia McKay - Composer Interview Part 1

vish McKay is a composer American composer of music for concert stage film and modern dance her portfolio includes works for Symphony Orchestra chamber ensembles choir soloist as well as electro acoustic installations her music has been featured on National Public Radio and in concerts in New York in Poland at the festival of guinea at NASA Canova is that Alright modern music festival in Beijing China in Spain at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC the Knoxville Museum of Art and here in Asheville at the electro music festival and the Diane Northam theater among others though she was born and raised in Poland at the age of nine she began her music studies at the Elementary School of Music concentrating on classical guitar flute and piano she continued her education at the Conservatory of Music in geddens majoring in flute performance she holds a Bachelor of Music and composition from the University of Tennessee and masters in music in scoring for film and multimedia from New York University a Renaissance woman at heart though she is also a visual artist I own two of her paintings and a writer her debut model a novel a psychological thriller entitled the flow will be published later this year welcome my friend dish McKay so how about a little bit about how you have started this piece and where are you with the piece well there are three so instead of I'll be studying to music so we have three poems and as far as where I am creatively I have just finished a very strong draft of the second song and sometimes I start from the middle sometimes I start from the end but this time I went from the beginning through the middle going toward the last poem in the order that you have heard them today and I said strong draft because I don't like to commit to what I have written because there could still be changes there could still be neurosis and you know there could be events leading to maybe changing everything in story over but at least I feel that I have really let's just call them really strong drafts and when I write I like to sort of you know sit on them for a few days few weeks and if they stick if they hold if they are okay in the next two or three weeks then I'll probably stay with them but right now I feel well if I say that I feel good would that be like that no I feel good about them and as I listen to the poets reading those poems I just have this emotional response because as they read I heard the music that I wrote and just kind of targeted me and those those words have like really special meaning for me now because I have spent so much time with those words mulling over them and you know setting them to music and working with them so I do feel good about them right now so strong drops dosha has her own YouTube channel where she talks about her process to an audience of I guess mostly composers I don't know I think it's a varied audience maybe some younger composers he isn't maybe other composers who are professionals but also other artistic people are just people who are curious about what it is that we do I mean it is we still we composers are kind of a rare breed people when I you know sometimes people ask me what do you do for a living I tell them I'm a composer they don't quite know how to take it so you know I think I have all kinds of people in my audience mostly just curious people or a lot of times people who want to find inspiration either for their music writing or another artistic discipline but I just feel that maybe they want to kind of find some similarity some inspiration from what I'm doing you know I'm trying to share you know describing in the past I have described other pieces that I worked on and my creative routine and people somehow find it he's spidering for some reason well i'm inspired by you when i watch the video it was interesting because she called each one of us she scheduled a a chat with each one of us involved in this project all three poets and all four musicians and in her videos she was saying how we all seemed so surprised we've had been presented with music as musicians in the past where they might have written a flute part on the p.m. and it may be real easy to go on the piano and it doesn't sit well on the instrument so this is really exciting for me to take it a tailor-made piece not roselyn's nodding cemani please right we the flutists dip we steal from the violin quite a bit and there's some things you can just do very easily vvvvvv and it's a lot of lip work for us but in this case I said okay you know as a matter of fact since you're asking me I don't want to go below middle C please don't make me to eat the fly low fees and no piccolo no piccolo in this piece I'm okay at the big club but not when I'm saying I want my peas this way did you ask for Rosalind do you remember these are like our wish list yeah – please don't make this too hard it's an interesting thing because they've been works in art in our history where maybe a seven-minute work this will be longer this is 13 to 15 minutes we pay by the minute but I remember spending time on a 7 minute work that's flute and cello and there was part of it that was just weak it difficult and I thought how absurd that I'm spending hours and hours trying to get this in my hands for a piece that's gonna be gone done in 7 minutes and you only get to do it one time yeah so you don't even know when we're missing out or having struggles with it or how it really should sound we're just presenting it the way we think so so that was really neat but she's also dealing with guitar in this piece with a whole another beast you're a flutist but you have guitar background the classical guitar which is great and the mets out you can use remember what you were talking about Britney Britney semen is our met so she's at Brevard College if any of you came to the Sunday afternoon concert we just did she's singing this work remember what she said I found that really interesting in your in your video yes we had a really interesting conversation with Britney Britney cemento soprano and as you know women who sing opera and to be diverse you know she's not here so we can talk about she was not that way at all but I had a really interesting conversation with her because we talked about the intricacies of her voice and every voice has different characteristics and it's not enough for me just to know the range of that always I mean you can just open the book and read about it but I have to write the music in such a way that she feels comfortable singing it and not just comfortable but that she's happy in her parts of the speech so the meta soprano has this middle range where she's most happy about and most expressive but then she also has this lower range that can be very mellow deep and colorful like and deep like honey but also she likes to venture out to those very high notes maybe even as high as soprano and with Brittany we are lucky enough that she is can reach really high up there but I have to be careful as a composer not to tire her voice so I need to be careful to put the majority of the music within the middle range and if I go up to the high register just when I let her just kind of visit just a little bit up there and I have to be careful about how she approaches she asked me specifically you know if you want to go to the high G it's really easier for me if I can do like a jump um you know like a perfect fourth is a nice jump for the voice so those are a lot of things that you maybe don't think about as an audience you just listen to the song and hopefully hear it sounds good but you know why does it sound good hopefully it sounds good because it's well written and it's performed by somebody who knows what they're really doing with their voice with the music I feel like I have such a deep responsibility to the poets to their poetry that I want to do the best of my ability it's not just about oh you know here are some words and here's a music underneath and there you go no I mean you you've heard the words are so deep to me they're so transformative that I want the music to underscore the emotions I want I want to take the words you know they're already here on this level and I want my music to take them even higher so they're even more expressive they're even more meaningful and this is why we have to venture out into those technical issues and that's why I spend so much time with with instrumentalists with a singer and with with each poet talking about their their poetry

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