The Broken Heart Project

November 17, 2010 Comments Off on The Broken Heart Project

My voice teacher, Wendy, has a student who has written scads of poetry, and last spring she approached me to set some of them to music. On Monday we settled on the selection and order, and on Tuesday the poet approved most of our choices, so now it’s on me to start writing. Eep! I believe there are eleven poems involved. I’m calling it The Broken Heart Project, because that’s kind of the theme and it doesn’t currently have a title, but the poet (who I have not met) reputedly does not want the title to allude to heartbreak, although the pivotal poem is “Oh my broken heart.”

It’s weird to be commissioned. It’s weird to look at some of these poems and think to myself, I have no choice but to set this. Ordinarily I see a poem I like, I dick around at the piano for half an hour, and then maybe I decide to keep working on it. It’s even weirder to have someone in charge of me. Not only do I have to set these poems, but she can tell me to redo them if she doesn’t like them. It’s not that I don’t want to set the poems, although they’re definitely not something I would have picked for myself, it’s just that it’s confining to feel supervised. Welcome to the real world, I guess. Here’s the outline (first lines only):

I. I think of you without words
II. Hold me in your arms
III. If only the moon did not rise
IV. From you I have learned
V. Loneliness
VI. There is a hole inside of me now
VII. As my fingers linger on my breasts
VIII. Oh my broken heart
IX. I am afraid to forget your eyes
X. One dark frightening glance
XI. I have forgotten your voice

This cycle is going to be a big deal, and a lot of work. I must not be intimidated by the scale. The worst part is, I don’t think I write very good piano parts, and I really really really want this to have beautiful accompaniments. On the other hand, if I dig in and make these great pieces, then I can really be proud of them and have something to show for the work. It may be especially nice to have this in January, when I don’t have a job and I’m at loose ends: if I work on this for several hours a day, it might help give my daily life some structure, which will be a good thing. I’m excited to start!

UPDATE: The cycle has a name! It’s called “When Silence Sings.”


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