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10 Seconds: Clara Serra López

"Thank you, George, for giving me a reason to dig deep into the sounds that have accompanied me through life until now. Some of these tunes have come into my life as an adult and others are archived within the memory banks of a younger self, be it CD’s that were played in long car journeys with my family or the music I came across outside of my musical upbringing in search of my own thing. It goes without saying that selecting only a few tunes has been very hard and I could have kept going for days, so I’ve somewhat based my selection on instinctual emotional response to what first came to my head and the impact this music has had within different moments of my life." - Clara Serra López

1. Sarah Vaughan - Sophisticated Lady (0'03" - 0'13")

From Sarah Vaughan - After Hours (1961)

"I love how Sarah starts this Duke Ellington tune on the bridge, my favourite part of this composition. Sarah’s rich tones captivate you instantly, and she glides through this challenging standard so effortlessly. I fell in love with this tune as a fresh 18 year old in music conservatoire but didn’t actually realise how hard it was to sing it and reach flow state with it. It’s a tune I always come back to in the forever search to keep ingraining it in my bones. I love how the melody sits within the harmony and how alongside the lyrics they make what is actually quite an angular tune feel so natural."

2. Mayte Martin - Ten Cuidao (0'35" - 0'45")

From Mayte Martín – Querencia (2002)

"Ten Cuidado, meaning ‘Be Careful’. I owe my admiration of this tune to my mum, who would sing fragments of it here and there when I was growing up. I remember the lyrics ‘miente más que parpadea’ sinking deep into my memory. It means ‘he lies more than he blinks’, and to me it’s a testament of the poetic depth of the Spanish language and its ability to take an action or emotion and make it even more beautifully dramatic. I find the Spanish language comes with an inherent personality of emotional depth that allows me to reveal the hidden nooks and crannies’ of my own feelings when I sing. I’m forever grateful to the musicians that brought me back to my heritage after years of only singing in English."

3. The Vernon Spring - A Plane Over Woods (0'08" - 0'18")

From The Vernon Spring - A Plane Over Woods (2021)

"I found out about Vernon Springs around 2-3 years ago and he has become a main figure in my mornings when I need tranquil melodies and meditative harmony. Just when you think you know where he is going to go with his voicings and harmonic journey, he turns around and surprises you whilst still making you feel held."

4. Joni Mitchell - A Case of You (2'10" - 2'20")

From Joni Mitchell - Both Sides Now (2000)

My intention was not to be so lyric based when doing this blog, I’m a musician before I’m a vocalist, but then again I’m also an avid reader and lover of words, so I guess it’s only natural that a lot of the tunes that have had the biggest impact on me are with lyrics. I actually grew up listening to the Vince Mendoza arrangements of Joni Mitchell before even hearing the originals. As someone with a naturally husky voice, I was really drawn to Joni’s mature and smoky voice, little did I know she actually had a very bright sound in her earlier career. This song to me is what every songwriter hopes to captivate, a box of feelings that can become the listener’s own. My favourite phrase of all time in a song, ‘I could drink a case of you and still be on my feet’. Now having heard the earlier version, there is something even more magical about hearing someone singing their own song years later with even more life to inform the story of the tune, not to mention Vince’s beautiful arrangement."

5. Paul Simon - Darling Lorraine (4'34" - 4'44")

From Paul Simon - You're The One (2000)

"Paul Simon is one of the many members of the soundtrack to my childhood. 2 – 3 times a year we’d do the 7-8 hour car journey from Madrid to Barcelona to visit the other side of the family and the album ‘You’re the One’ was played countless times. As a kid, I remember just being completely absorbed by Paul’s storytelling and how he’d use the instrumentation to add to the lyrical journey. I remember this song sticking with me and especially the lyrics "she don’t like the way I chew", maybe because I have always been quite sensitive to chewing sounds since I was a kid, haha. This song is in summary about a mismatched couple and I guess I was drawn to these specific lyrics referencing such a mundane everyday action that could be so resented."

6. Yo-Yo Ma - Bach Cello Sonatas, Suite No.1 in G major (1'41" - 1'51")

From Yo-Yo Ma – Yo-Yo Ma Plays Bach (2001)

"I grew up hearing my brother practicing these beautiful pieces. There is not much I can say that people have not already spoken of in regards to Bach’s composition. As a musician rooted in jazz I hear so much of it in baroque music. I started my musical journey on classical violin and did not enjoy the elitism and rigor of the classical world one bit, but baroque was one of the classical styles I loved playing and I’d never get tired of hearing my brother play these (he is also very good at cello which helps haha). Here I’ve selected 10s of Yo yo Ma’s rendition of Suite No.1 in G, a moment of the piece where is seems to journey away from the motivic development and the melody moves into a somewhat rhythmic pattern, setting us up for the next peak of the song."

7. Karim Ziad - Ait Oumrar (3'55" - 4'05")

From Karim Ziad - Ifrikya (2001)

"The amalgamation of hours that I must have listened to this whole album is beyond me. Karim beautifully combines folkloric traditions and contemporary jazz. He is a drummer and percussionist as well as vocalist which is what I think gives him such an intuitive approach to his arrangements. This tune carries through some of the production sounds of 90/00s modern jazz (which I’ll be honest are not always my favourite, but in this tune they get me) whilst still holding true to his Algerian heritage and influences. As someone exploring my own cultural background within my other musical influences, Karim Ziad has been a huge source of inspiration."

8. Moodymann - Oceans (2'00" - 2'10")

From Moodymann – Silentintroduction (2022)

"I feel like this write-up wouldn’t be complete without an ode to my love for electronic music. I love dancing and I’m a big fan of the Detroit house music scene. Moodymann is one of my favourite producers and DJs, and this whole album is one of my favourite to play when on the move on a sunny day or when I need a pick me up. I’ve selected 10s that just give pure groove."

9. Sherine - Sabry Aalil (0'33" - 0'43")

From Sherine - Garh Tany (2003)

"An Egyptian pop banger of the early 00s. As someone who has been in awe of middle eastern music and studied to some extent Makam (system of melody types used in Anatolian, middle eastern and Balkan music), when I heard 90s and early 00s pop from these areas I was completely enthralled. This vocal chorus hits hard and I just wish I had heard it sooner. Flamenco and other Iberian traditions come from the same cultural lineage as Middle eastern music, so I hear a lot of similarities between both musical cultures."


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