I have been drawn into and inspired by music from many cultures and lineages. It is difficult in some sense to say what a ‘favorite’ music is for me, because I respond to patterns in music more than styles, and many types of music drive these patterns. Born in South America, and living in the Dominican Republic, I was exposed to Latin music and culture in the household and embraced it naturally. And through this process of creating music, my Hungarian lineage which seemed at once distant has also organically come alive and closer to me, inspiring me to explore the incredibly passionate and colorful folk music of Eastern Europe.

I continue to seek that which expresses something I have felt inside since I was young, which musically and vocally articulates feelings, stories, and images in an intuitive non-English language and in a style that transcends specific genre or even what I had grown up with. It was when I experienced the Hammered Dulcimer that my recognition blossomed into the musical compositions over the past few years and on my first full-length album, Mystery of Souls. In 2002, I produced a short-length compilation of original music, which included my first exploration into the world of singing in an intuitive tongue with a song called Zezirah. The song came through spontaneously, clearly, the imagery very strong but muted, almost sepia-toned throughout, and the lyrics and harmonies were quite natural, although I worked on them in the context of the dulcimer arrangement. It was thrilling to feel this musical impulse, submitting to that which had lived in me for so long and was finally giving birth. This is one element, to me, of authentic expression, and the edge where we have to let go into a creating that feels so vulnerable, and intimate to share, and may make sense only to us in the end. Creating music is an opportunity for me to defy identity and embrace something much bigger and more mysterious yet passionately alive and visceral in the body.”

I love the recording process, being in the studio, collaborating with other musicians, and exploring the subtleties of the engineering process of bringing so many musical elements together into a final mix. It’s a real turn-on. You know you are doing what you are meant to do when you can be in a dark room for many hours and not rather be anywhere else.

The hammered dulcimer is very eclectic, fitting in with music from around the world. It works beautifully in melody but also makes a fantastic percussive instrument. It adds a mysterious, romantic, and passionate quality to a composition that moves me deeply.

After moving to Santa Barbara, California, I began writing new music and met Marshall. We began collaborating on the music for Mystery of Souls. Marshall and I understand each other at a soul level, and he understands the essence of what I am expressing musically and vocally. He related to my rather unorthodox style with grace and without a limited set of expectations of where I should go, and was also able to respond and compose soulfully and without rigid ideas to the compositions we chose for this project. This opened up our collaboration and served as a fluid container in which to experience what has become Mystery of Souls.

Melanie also plays frame drum and sings traditional repertoire in Turkish, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Macedonian and the Ladino romances of the Sephardim. She was recently invited to perform a contemporary tango in Turkish at a recent Tango conference in Las Vegas. Melanie is a member of the Middle East Ensemble Chorus in Santa Barbara, directed by Scott Marcus, which performs locally and nationally.



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