Mondays with Martha

I’m (Martha) grateful to andPlay for this opportunity to write a little blog post ahead of our show at Spectrum.

Since I was a kid, I’ve liked the ritual of study: at the kitchen table, with good light and a smooth surface. Preparing scores was one of the first of many valuable lessons I learned from my teacher of several years, Tara O’Connor. A set of good highlighters, a red/blue bi-color pencil, a heavy-leaded mechanical pencil, and a small ruler: the tools of a trade to which I have committed much of my professional career (so far).

 

Composer of late have expanded their “extra” sounds for the flute to include those produced by the voice. For Nick Nelson, fragments of Walt Whitman’s poetry manifest themselves on a different staff; for Anne Goldberg, French syllables are interwoven into the flute line. Since there’s no reed, no interruption between air and sounding note, flute is closest to the human voice. These “junk” sounds, those you’re trained to not produce when practicing etudes and scales, are part and parcel of the vernacular of new music.

Working with composers to create a soundworld that is entirely their own, when they don’t actually play your instrument (Drake Andersen is a notable exception in this case), is a unique one. It means that the inconsistency, the spontaneity of interpretation, is organic to the work. There is only so much that practicing can add; it’s mainly about internalizing the expression of the lines, much like how actors inhabit a character.

For me, the colors I use to mark up my scores become a canvas all my own: a unique visual representation of my interpretation.

 

I hope you can join us for a little taste of what some fine composers and interpreters can cook up: 1/23 at Spectrum and 2/17 at Cloud City.