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Mia Doi Todd: Music Life Album Review

todayMay 11, 2021 8

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By Shack Khoza
Music Journalist

Inspirational and heartwarming orchestral music are the words to describe this glorious album titled “Music Life” composed by Mia Doi Todd. This album is aimed for those who love a mixture of orchestral instruments accompanied by soft rock or classical music.

“Music Life” made a huge choice by sacrificing head-banging tones and replacing them with quiet, settling and blissful themes, which are represented by certain instruments that Todd has chosen in each track.

But who is Mia Doi Todd? She is a singer and instrumentalist who studied classical voice. She continuously traveled abroad and enhanced  her research of classical music, dance and percussion techniques while collaborating with other professional musicians.

As she released singles and albums, Todd performed around the world from Brazil to Amsterdam, including one of her biggest accomplishments of composing a film adaptation score for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare.

Her purpose is to record multiple instruments and tunes that inspire her audience to mentally voyage in a global adventure as each track displays certain characteristics and qualities of terrains and landmarks. 

Before the Voyage…

“Music life,” without a doubt, is the best song in the album! The stepwise ostinatio of the bass guitar combined with guitar plucks and soft minor piano chords invites the audience to sit down and listen.

Todd’s alto level lyrics and combination of instrumentals makes one want to explore the opportunities of music themselves. As the song intensifies and crescendos towards the end, the audience is thrilled to take on their own music prospects.

Mountainous regions 

Just imagine yourself at the mountain base. You stare at the steep cliffside, thinking how much effort is required to scale the mountain, or if you even have the guts to climb.

“Take Me To The Mountains” features a bass clarinet and flutes that illustrate the daring climber trying to conquer their fear and reach the pinnacle. Towards the middle of the song, a drum set is played that describes the difficulty of the exhausted person as they run out of oxygen and their hands blister.

Miraculously, the song ends with a descending flute scale and tambourine rattle, indicating that the fearless person reached the top of the mountain as they victoriously glared at the breathtaking view of the valley below. 

Bays and Waterfronts

The sound effects of waves reaching the shoreline of rocky coves is the perfect setting for “My Fisherman.”

Using a rustic acoustic guitar, Todd creates a lyrical poem that describes the daily life of a brave and strong fisherman. The folk-like triple meter beat combined with her mournful tone full of gloom tells how the brave fisherman sadly passed away after fighting against the harsh seas.

As fishermen know their limits and are excited to battle against the seas because they are not afraid to die, musicians should not be afraid to make new and risky music.

Subterranean Gardens.

“Little Bird” is a slow-paced walk in a colorful garden planted with vast vegetations of flowers, fruits and herbs. This lengthy, emotional song features a bevy of Mexican string instruments that would be played in a mariachi band, including traditional Spanish guitar and violins.

The lyrics remind the audience that failure and sorrow are certain in life. Moreover, the string instruments’ euphonious sounds allow the audience to weep and cry due to the hopelessness.

Once the moments of depression end, ideas begin to blossom and rise, just like how plants in a garden sprout when a ray of sunshine is bestowed upon them.

Pan-Arabic Deserts

Think about traveling in a hot desert, sweltering and hallucinating. Suddenly, you come upon an oasis city filled with markets, magic carpets, diamonds and jewelry, fortune tellers and geezers telling arabian stories.

“Mohinder and the Maharani” is a track that includes a squeaky clarinet, violins and Arabic fretted-lute instruments, such as the buzuq and oud.

Honestly, the audience could choose to ignore the lyrics because this song is filled with lots of high spirits as people prance in the upbeat, Arabic streets. The audience could also consider this song to be the “head-banger” of the album because it contains memorable melodies that fit weddings or coming-of-age ceremonies.

Carribean Beaches

Who does not like long walks on the beach? The sound of water calmly approaching and dousing your bare feet. The cool breeze blowing on your hot face.

That is exactly how Todd describes the setting of “If I Don’t Have You.” The song resembles a freestyle, calypso beat in that it has a staccato chord playing on the upbeats and the bass guitar moving motionlessly in thirds.

This song is quite romantic as Todd gloats about her secret admirer and begs him never to leave her side so she can maintain her happiness.

Ravines and Waterfalls

“Wainiha Valley” is a spa resort that invites anyone who needs physical, emotional and spiritual healing. Once entering the spa, anyone will be greeted by banquets, massage therapies and even meditation.

The music features shimmering notes, warm harmonization, the floating flutes and bounciness of tambura drums. This track also has an abundant use of ASMR sound effects that make the audience’s spine tingle and relax.

The Journey Ends.

The main melody in “Daughter of Hope” features a grand concert piano that creates a mood of fulfillment as this song concludes a global journey.

In this album Todd took audiences to many places, introduced them to many instruments and different cultures. Todd’s lyrics describe her fanatic and curious approach to music as an artist.

Todd completely blew the audience away after releasing the powerful album “Music Life.” What is so interesting about her is that she is very versatile and features multiple instruments that illustrate each track’s setting and characteristics.

Ultimately, her in-depth knowledge of classical music, percussion and voice inspires other musicians to get out of their comfort zone and write music that tests the boundaries of what is thought possible within the music industry.

Featured image by City Zen Records.

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