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It is odd to find myself creating this page for music since I mainly think of myself as a mixed-media artist who is also a published writer. Not having a musical background for composing, please consider this page about a project-in-progress. The songs for the project "Whispers of Arias" (more about that below) come from a poetry manuscript "Arias, Monologues & Mad Scenes", and it has been my hope over the years that others might take an interest in performing them. As the saying goes: hope springs eternal. Again, musically, I'm not really a composer/arranger but more of a "lyricist" who, as hip hop artists do, sampled music, sound effects, (& instruments played around the house), in attempts to create songs for my voice. (In other words: forewarned is forearmed, or something along those lines.) When it comes to others adapting these works I think of them as templates/palettes to be made use of. My sense is that choral groups/solo artists, (actors & actresses even), and those who work with them in an arranging/conducting capacity, have the best feel for what songs/words, lyrically, establish the groundwork of creative affinity. I like the idea of letting the artists who are doing the interpreting to have as much freedom as needed to play and use the material to pitches of emotional resonance which can do the greatest good.
I began creating mp3 files somewhat by accident, or as an experiment. A few years ago I received a note from Frank Moore of Love Underground Visionary Revolution in regards to a few poems I mailed him. He asked if I'd be interested in recording them on a tape for him to play on his show. At the time I was just figuring out how to record my own voice and poetry as soundtracks for short collage-films I'd begun to make, yet the idea of using even a thirty minute tape for a number of poems seemed like I'd be wasting a lot of tape time. Thus, I got the idea of adding music to accompany my words. This eventually resulted in the CD "Love Lullabies", http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002G9U9CM Using my own voice as background for my writing, in the past year I worked up the nerve to attempt singing the poems entirely. Actually, since so many of my poems are narratives, I've often thought of them sort of as choral, operatic or folk pieces, feeling influenced by such works as “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” in addition to the librettists for John Adams and Phillip Glass. I thought I'd be working on yet another DIY project, (eventually entitled "Whispers of Arias"), but luckily came across Kevin MacLeod and his royalty-free music site, Incompetech.com. With his permission to use and play with samples from his site for this esoteric project, I’ve been fortunate to find a working collaboration. Since releasing downloads from this project I've been contacted by a couple of different LGBT choral groups asking if I had music for particular songs (specifically "The Secret Marriage"), written in TTBB or other such arrangements. I again explained that I'm not really a composer/arranger but more of a "lyricist" who, as hip hop artists do, sampled music to create songs for my voice. Still, given the fact that my work has received some choral interest I thought perhaps I should bring the subject up for other musicians out there for potential feedback and or collaboration.
Jonathan Penton of "Unlikely Stories" writes:
It's appropriate that Stephen Mead has named this double-album Whispers of Arias, because despite the layered, operatic music and big dramatic themes, these recordings, ultimately, sound very little like arias: The vocals are so tortured and quiet that one can't help but think of a ghost in a symphony hall, desperately trying to impress something upon the listeners, something dire, something unbelievably tragic. Stephen Mead sings his poems over Kevin MacLeod's complex and sophisticated classical interpretations, and the effect is transformative—on the rhythm of the poems, on the meaning of MacLeod's recordings, and ultimately, on the listener.
A work like Stephen Mead’s demands attention …Here is a sonic document that could either be a high-minded Avant think-piece or a perfectly loony exercise in drug-induced psychotic garage banding, but like Dave Abramson’s composition “Sidney Abramjits” or Spekulation’s remix of “Okanomodé” these works have an urgency—an urgency made all the more pressing by the subtlety with which each finds, singularly, it must be expressed.
Music Editors, Monarch Review
radiowildfire.com writes: Stephen's work with voice and soundscape continues to intrigue us and, we think, set a benchmark for recording spoken word.
If you prefer CDs of my music can be purchased via http://stephenmeadmusic.weebly.com/
Where to begin....? Laura Nyro, Brahms, Chopin, Marianne Faithfull, Simon Fisher Turner, Diamanda Galas, Rickie Lee Jones, David Sylvian, Coltrane, Billie Holiday, Carla Bley, The Roches, Trio Bulgaria and on and on...