Music for Use

Music for Use


Cooper Ottum

I’ve been listening to Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Penelope, the recorded version on New Amsterdam Records.

My relationship with the music is as follows:

While listening through the piece for the first time, I was disappointed. “This is just pop music,” I thought.

I continued by thinking about the high level of craftsmanship behind the scenes in the piece. And how beautifully melancholy it is. And maybe the pop music thing is some kind of facade, it just draws in audiences, to an unsuspectingly fulfilling musical experience. So I decided that if I couldn’t like Penelope, surely someone I know might.

Then I decided that it just sounds like music for teenagers.

Then I read the text (should have done this earlier, to be sure), and thought, “wow, that’s lovely text. And so sad.”

Then I thought, “I really wish the title of the piece on the album cover wasn’t set in Trajan. What were they thinking?”

Then I realized that, because the story uses material from the Odyssey, the designer probably had some sort of justification for using a typeface designed to emulate Roman inscription text. Greek and Roman are pretty close, right?

And now I am re-listening to sections of the piece, continuing to be a little disappointed, continuing to be disappointed that I am disappointed, continuing to figure out the person (other than myself) who might enjoy this. Continuing to think that if I could recommend the piece to someone else, it will somehow reconcile my disappointment.

It’s not a bad piece of music. The string work is consistently… bland. But pretty. Like overdone choral music. The vocal work (sung by Shara Worden) is gorgeous. Rich and satisfying. The sound design is also nice at times, but I dislike the duplicated track whispering thing. It should be in everyone’s interest to sound as little like Evanescence as possible.

So, you know, check it out. Maybe you’ll like it, and I won’t have to feel guilty anymore.