About the Music
These compositions are contemplative by nature, with a simplicity that is intended to support the texts. They are influenced by folk, celtic and early music. The songs included on the CD Take Wing in Song include texts from the Indian mystical poet Rabindranath Tagore, Hilde Domin, Hannah Senesh, Theodore Roethke, Mary Austin, and the Psalms. The newly released CD Request is a song cycle of the poems of Hilde Domin, a wonderful German-Jewish poet. See ‘Authors’ for more information about her.
The songs on Take Wing in Song have come to me over a period of years when I have come across texts which I found to be beautiful, and in some way spiritual. Often they have chosen me more than I have chosen them, with a melody emerging, singing itself into the room. I’m grateful for how they have lived in me and become songs, flying out into the world where they have a life of their own…
Originally, all of these songs were sung with voice and guitar or a capella with one to three voices. In playing and performing them over the last few years, different arrangements have grown and developed. These have included vocal ensemble, cello, piano, accordion, viola da gamba, saxophone, flute, and percussion. Working with these wonderful musicians has been and continues to be a big part of the joy in this journey!
As a child of two wonderful musicians (and grandchild of a gifted pianist, my grandmother), I had the privilege of growing up surrounded by music. I grew up playing violin and later flute, ending up with a passion for the guitar. In my thirties, I began writing songs accompanied by guitar, solo or with two to three part harmony, and arranging Celtic, Israeli, and traditional American songs. I’ve been finding beautiful texts and writing songs ever since.
In 1998 I moved to Europe for a year and stayed for ten, raising a family with my husband and working. While I was there, I put together an ensemble to perform these songs with a reader, a saxophone/flutist, a viola da gamba player, and a modern dancer with whom I worked collaboratively on choreography. We had the opportunity to perform in some very beautiful, old, resonant churches in Europe (imagine saxophone in such venues!). In 2007, we moved back to the states, to Rhode Island. Shortly thereafter, I recorded Take Wing in Song with musicians from New England and lots of support from family and friends! Along with the joys and challenges of work and family life, I am continuing to write music and have set up a small recording studio in our home, where I recorded my second CD Request, Songs of poems of Hilde Domin. This last CD, just released, is a promise fulfilled to a great poet and dear friend, Hilde Domin.
“These songs are like nourishment for the soul.”
“The music is really beautiful… I have been moved by the purity, humility and power of what you have created.”
“These songs of Deborah Langstaff are characterized by an intimate simplicity, refraining from being in any way spectacular, bringing us with them on an inner spiritual journey… They have taken me into a dimension of depth that I miss in so many other places…”
“This music has a quality that has become rare in our times; it invites you to listen intently, so that you can follow its fine nuances.”
“These songs and arrangements support the texts, allowing them to unfold their beauty without ever covering them up. I have rarely taken in texts with such tender intensity.”