Contraltos complain that the only roles composed for them are Bitches, Witches and Britches. Years ago, on hearing that one must have a Mozart aria for audition purposes i looked up a Mozart aria database for something suitable. After scrolling past the many pages of soprano arias, and then the pages of mezzo arias, I arrived at the single page, and uh single entry for the contralto arias written by Mozart. And it wasn’t the genuine article at any rate, it was composed for castrato. Why don't composers write more works for low ladies?
It's been slowly dawning on me that I compose and have the instrument at hand to work with, so maybe I could stop complaining and write some work for contraltos.
This thought brings me back to a work I abandoned a few years ago - THE DAY - a sort of Taoist oratorio drawing on stunning ancient Chinese poetry. I shelved it after I made the regrettable decision to go back to uni to pursue composing studies, where I had been working on this piece. Originally, based on my supervisor's advice, I had scored the important female role in this work for Soprano. The Wu, a Chinese, female rainmaker. Basically a shamanness archetype who can summon the rain amongst other talents including ‘sight'.
It's taken me a few years to shake off the feelings i had around uni and this work - the deep frustrations of being unable to articulate and justify my instincts with words, to my lecturers. I certainly have taken my musical education seriously, but many of my compositional ideas are instinctive, and based on soundfeel and because I sing as I write - mouthfeel. I found I couldn’t translate this to words when called upon (and this is a perfectly reasonable expectation of a university supervisor) to discuss what I was writing and why. I just got tongue tied and miserable, depressed about the suggestions and alterations my lecturers offered.
Any way, that seems sufficiently long ago for me to come back to this work and follow my own instincts. Onee of my ideas is that The Wu could be for a low voice. What I'm going to do to come back to writing the work, is focus on her songs and create a stand alone song cycle.
Here's a sketch of her telling the humans to "go walking." I pulled it out yesterday to start thinking about.