We were not broken from the start
But suddenly things fell apart
Bits and pieces scattered here and there
The musical ideas and words of the homeless individuals served monthly by Shelter Music Boston had inspired all of the pieces we were performing for her, and we loved that she wanted her poem to be our next inspiration. We used a process called Musical Storytelling to compose with previous shelter audiences, and we knew that we wanted to share this process with an upcoming audience who would attend a Shelter Music Boston benefit concert. But why just describe it, when the audience could actually experience it? We brainstormed how we could have our benefit audience consider this poem and create the music for it.
We set up a structure to set each line of the poem to music, with all of the musical decisions to be made by the audience and performed by a trio of myself on marimba, Julie Leven on violin, and RaShaun Campbell, baritone voice.
But then the benefit audience arrived. We were used to doing Musical Storytelling with small groups. Now we had close to 100 people. And as soon as we started to ask questions about how to set the first line to music, EVERYONE had opinions. Not only did the audience learn to express their own ideas, they experienced exactly what had happened at the shelters -- they started working together as a group to shape the composition with common goals.
Watch this short video to see an abridged version of how the final two lines of the poem came to life from the audience's ideas: