It Gets Better

Whenever I’m facing a tough challenge, the same advice comes up over and over again: “It’s all about perspective” and “It gets better!” In fact there’s an entire campaign based on the idea that it gets better, the “it” referring to adolescent anti-queer bullying. My project explores applying this life mentality and perspective to listening.

I recorded a vocal reading of the statement, “The taunts, rejection, and depression will fade like your bruises. Your will to live, that’s yours forever.” The two sentences are weighed down by heavy use of very negative words despite having an ultimately positive and empowering message. I deliberately included these negative words because my composition slowly reveals the statement, allowing the listener to possibly dwell on these moments. If the listener cannot move past the individual moments and see how the passing negativity actually serves to amplify the entire statement’s optimism, then he/she/ze may feel sad after listening to the composition. By comparison, a listener who does view the full scope of the statement may feel empowered.

I decided to cut out the majority of the recorded statement, only leaving “The taunts, rejection . . . will fade . . . Your will to live, that’s yours forever.” The redacted version I selected still captures the emotional impact I wanted to convey, while allowing me to focus more time on trying out new effects given my limited time frame. Every sound in the composition was created using only the original vocal recording which was manipulated in Spear and Reaper. Rhythm plays the role of invoking anxiety, while pitches emphasize dissonance or triumph. I consider my Proto-Project to be a sample of what my ideal composition would be. I tried to pack many different ideas for manipulating the vocal recording within a short period of time. While I believe it does stand alone as a complete project, it admittedly feels rushed to me. I’d like the recorded statement to unfold much more slowly and less bluntly, but I made the decision to explore different effects and manipulation techniques in lieu of extending the composition’s length.



One thought on “It Gets Better

  1. Awesome, Ric.

    It’s not easy to compose something that is so short but at the same time feels like it stands on its own, musically. You’ve done this very effectively. Do you know Anton Webern’s work? Though his aesthetic is entirely different, he is famous for incredibly short pieces with great attention to detail. Look up klangfarbenmelodie. You’re kind of working this way in this piece.

    On another note, you should listen to Laurie Anderson’s O Superman.

    And on another note, check out Karlheinz Stockhausen’s work:

    (Not because its the most relevant piece–more because its such an important work in the history of electronic music, and uses children’s voices.)

    I really want to hear more of these. Particularly with voices and texts from the many different original videos. The more of these you do, the more challenging it will be, because you will need to find many different ways of structuring musical gestures in short periods of time. It would be a great creative challenge to try to create short compositions that somehow get to the essence of the original, while remaining musically interesting and unique.

    In any case, really great work!


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