I wrote this song cycle for my friend, Glynis. As well as being a talented soprano, she is also an excellent writer, so I knew I’d have to choose excellent texts for her to sing. I chose poems about strong women dealing with mental health issues. Glynis has a good flair for the theatrical, so I wanted to write some songs that would show a wide emotional range. As well, she would never shy away from challenging material, so I chose poems that deal with real, intense issues. The poems were all written within the last year.
The repeating figure in the piano takes all the letters I could use from the word “Bleach”: B – (no L, so there’s a rest ) – E – A – C – H (B natural). The song addresses mania and obsessiveness, especially in the face of a society preoccupied with superficiality.
I know a girl
As each verse gets shorter, the piano’s range also shifts downward, moving us to this song’s sad end. The song describes an outwardly happy girl who eventually commits suicide.
The piano’s high staccato notes, like raindrops, provide a steady backdrop to this song about someone who is successfully working through depression.
My First Monster
This song is about a person dealing with PTSD from their sexual abuse as a child. Repeating low punches from the piano echo like the feeling of dread in the pit of their stomach. High, pretty motifs in the piano point to their naiveté at the time of the abuse, and the wavering between major and minor chords illustrate how their feelings of love and admiration for the man were poisoned after he abused them, and show their innocence before and their sadness and shame afterwards.
Because this song cycle dealt with some sad, heavy topics, it was really important to me to end on a hopeful note. For me, this song describes what good therapy helps us do: find healing, and move forward, but never forget. This song is about refusing to be a victim to the pain and trouble that happens in our lives; rather, taking ownership over it and moving past it.