Music Well – Dosia McKay, Composer, Painter, Writer

Reflections on Art and Life

Is Beautiful Out of Style? – Composer Dosia McKay Bets Her New Album It Is Not

Dosia McKay’s debut album Lacrimosa is available for download on iTunes and other major digital retailers. Lacrimosa is a post-classical fusion of Renaissance and Electronic Soundscape music.

Dosia McKay’s creative path never followed stylistic expectations of her environment. Having emigrated to the United States some twenty years ago from her native Poland, she never got over the feeling of being different. Not quite “here”, yet no longer “there”, she describes herself as a hybrid. Add to it an innate desire for solitude and her Eastern European chronic propensity toward everything sad and beautiful, and you can appreciate the contrast of her mindset with the paradigm of the Western world.

“I have struggled with finding my own voice musically, and artistically in general”, she admits. “I always felt that I needed to follow my own path and be true to myself but haven’t always understood what that meant.”

Having studied classical music composition in an American school (University of Tennessee), she felt the gravity of the stylistic expectations of the generations of composers who have gone before her. She also had a general understanding of the American contemporary classical music scene, but dreaded the idea of writing high-brow music for academic audiences. Fortunately her graduate studies at New York University concentrating on film scoring opened up a new world of musical ideas where she was allowed to experiment freely with jazz, electronica, pop, folk, and contemporary classical music in any stylistic approach she chose.

“I was able to move fluently between different genres”, she says, “yet I found that I continued to gravitate toward lyricism and beauty. I felt at home in that idiom but I saw that it clashed with the world around me and with everything that contemporary art culture stood for. At one point I so often heard people describe my music as beautiful that I purposefully started writing ‘against my grain’ to free myself from the label, but a friend of mine told me to stop running away from it and instead embrace it.”

“I then thought about what it would be like if I could write music that flowed freely from my consciousness, without the restraints of stylistic or genre expectations, without worrying about what was marketable or even describable. That’s how the idea of Lacrimosa was born.”

Lacrimosa is not so much a collection of similar tracks on an album, as it is a journey through different musical environments. It is an emotional experience in twelve stages, part catharsis, part meditation, part celebration. Dosia explains the meaning of the Latin word Lacrimosa found in one of the stanzas in the Dies Irae sequence of the traditional Requiem mass as signifying mourning or weeping associated with the Judgement Day and remorse for sin. But to her, Lacrimosa, in a broader context, is the ultimate expression of beauty through the embracing of sorrow. She draws inspiration from the paradoxical nature of life, in which pain often mingles with pearls, while seeds of hope are planted in mourning.

As for marketing strategy, the concept of the album is a risky proposition. At a time when so much music advertising is propelled by sex and self indulgence, talking about sorrow or beauty are certainly counterintuitive. Yet Dosia believes that her music will find a captive audience.

“Yes, there are traces of sorrow in my album”, she says, “but I don’t think my music is downcast. I see it as inquisitive, playful, spirited, uplifting, and at times enveloping and comforting. It is a sonic exploration of the many layers of the emotional spectrum and a wonderment at the discovery of new worlds of beauty refined by fire. This musical journey has taken me to ambient meditative and sacred spaces, as well as joy and abandonment in highly dynamic dance sequences.”

Stylistically, Lacrimosa is a post-classical fusion of the Medieval, Renaissance, Electronic Soundscape, and New Age Ambient music, but an aware listener is likely to encounter traces of English neo romanticism, as well as Asian, Celtic, and Eastern European inflections.

Not wanting to be encumbered by the limitations of acoustic instruments and venturing to explore the uncharted territories of sound, she has layered many synthesized as well as sampled sounds from acoustic instruments and her own voice, but often used them in a non idiomatic way. She finds that this approach produces a unique yet natural, or, what she likes to call, an organic soundscape, as she is able to push the sound to its limits, altering the timbre, attack, release, spatial placement, and many other variables.

Whatever the technique, whatever the marketing angle, Lacrimosa truly is a beautiful, ethereal, and original multidimensional musical journey.

Dosia McKay composes music for film, concert stage, and dance. She divides her time between New York and Asheville. Her new album entitled Lacrimosa is available on iTunes, Amazon, and other digital retailers.


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