If My Life Were A Movie

- Amanda MacBlane, NewMusicBox

August 1, 2002

A major turning point in my life came at age 9 when I saw the film version of West Side Story. I have since seen it over 50 times, mostly in the years immediately following this initial viewing. Without fail, I cry every time. In the fourth grade, I started the exclusive W.S.S. Club, a group of girls who would become equally obsessed thanks to my after-school prodding. We would pause the video with the dancers in mid-air for a laugh. I remember running around my suburban basement snapping my fingers and replaying the “Rumble” scene in my friend’s pool in the summers (I always got to be Riff, handing the knife to Tony as I splashed dramatically to my death). All the time we’d be singing.

Last night, I put on the original Broadway soundtrack of the show while I was making dinner. I hadn’t listened to it in probably over a decade, but before I knew it I was leaping around my small East Village apartment singing “Cool, Go, Crazy!” and “I feel stunning and enchanting.” When “Somewhere” came on, a wave of emotion overtook me and I sat on my couch—lamenting Tony and Maria’s desperate love, my lost childhood, and my burnt dinner. And when I think about the movie that will be made of my life (after I have all of my fame and glory), I don’t think about who will play me, but what the soundtrack will be. Music has shaped my life experiences as much as my life experiences have shaped the music I make.

Of the 30 recordings that we received this month, I think many of them are worthy additions to our personal soundtracks. Going through a period of introspection? How about Alvin Lucier's Still Lives that pits solo piano and solo koto against a series of sine waves, making the harmonic beats the primary sonic material. For a more Eastern flavor, try California MIDI-raga composer Michael Robinson's newest recording Charukeshi, an hour-long journey into the spiritual roots of Indian classical music and for further divine observations look to Mel Graves’s Meditations on Truth, using Sufi mystic and poet Kabir for the lyrical and musical inspiration. This piece is included on the newest recording from experimental baritone Thomas Buckner. If you are looking to travel but can’t get away, take an internal journey with the help oAmerican Works for Organ and Orchestra, including Michael Colgrass’s stunning piece “Snow Walker” which elicits the grandeur and beauty of the Arctic. The exotic music for solo flute on flutist Linda Wetherill's new recording will also help to spark dreams of faraway places and peoples.

The first three paragraphs of the article are reproduced above.

SoundTracks: August 2002


Michael Robinson's exploration of Charukeshi, a raga that blends a 'major' modality in the lower tetrachord with a 'minor' modality in the upper tetrachord, begins with a wash of sound created by a menagerie of percussion. It then opens up into an extended cadenza-like piano melody, which oscillates between regular and irregular patterns. Making use of alternative tunings and blending tradition with technology, Robinson is able to transcend cultural and spiritual boundaries.

Michael Robinson - computer programming