Emily Moore is a music composition student at the University of Oklahoma. Assignment Radio’s Madeline Stebbins spoke to her about the unique challenges involved in composing, and how her relationship with music has helped her through tough times.
"I’ve been playing music as long as I can remember," Moore Said. "Both my parents are musical, and I started playing the piano even before my mom would technically allow me to take lessons. I listened to my siblings’ lessons and did them on my own later. I started composing music really not consistently until high school. And I never imagined I would be a composition major, until about halfway through my freshman year when I decided to switch."
Moore said she doesn't have a formula when she composes.
"I’ve composed a variety of pieces in a variety of different ways," She said. "Sometimes I just start at the beginning and work my way all the way through, and I don’t know where I’m going until I get there. Sometimes, particularly, I wrote a string quartet that’s kind of based more on pulling back to classical forms, so I started with a specific structure and idea in mind, and kind of filled in the blanks. Often, it’s a mix of something in between that."
She said that hardest part is getting all of her ideas together on paper.
"I get all these crazy ideas in my head, and usually melodies will come to my mind really quickly," Moore said. "I guess I’m inspired a lot. But they don’t usually translate that quickly into paper. Actually getting it down on paper and working through, editing and re-editing, it’s a lot more work than I had originally anticipated."
A year and a half ago, Emily felt her first symptoms of an undiagnosed illness. For weeks she was unable to live on her own, and she’s still feeling the effects of the mysterious sickness.
"For one day, for the space of several hours, I could not move my arms or legs," she said. "It’s a pretty terrifying experience, and to this day, no one knows why.The symptoms that have persisted are headache, nausea, muscle weakness and fatigue. It’s interesting because they’re very vague symptoms, and they’re invisible. It belongs to the category I guess of what people call invisible diseases, where half the time no one would know anything was wrong unless you told them, or unless they were around you on a consistent enough basis."
Moore said this mysterious illness has had a profound affect on her life
"It’s affected everything in my life," she said. "It’s … I think it’s about the same time that I started writing as a subtitle to each one of my pieces, “to the glory of God.” Music as I consider it is a gift from God. It’s an expression that he’s given us to let us say something that we couldn’t say with words. And what I have to say is that God is good, all the time. He’s good through suffering, he blesses his children, and that’s what I try to make come out of my music."
Moore has been working with a piano tuner at OU, and hopes to continue learning the craft. Until then, she’ll keep composing. After she graduates in May, she’ll move to New York to visit a research hospital, where she hopes the cause of her illness will be uncovered.