Big My Secret

Elizabeth, 35
New Orleans

Your songs, and why?

“Big My Secret,” by Michael Nyman (from The Piano soundtrack)
“Main Title (Dies Irae),” arranged by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind (from The Shining soundtrack)
“Rothko Chapel,” by Morton Feldman

“Big My Secret” is a really beautiful piano piece that I love, that I love to play on the piano, and that seems suitably sad for death.

The arrangement of “Dies Irae” from The Shining is a multi-pronged threat for the purpose of a death song. The “Dies Irae” itself is a Latin hymn commonly used in the Requiem mass, aka the MASS OF DEATH. So, right away it’s an easy pick for a death song. BUT, this particular arrangement is by pioneering electronic musician Wendy Carlos for the soundtrack for the movie The Shining…my favorite movie. I love the idea of sharing this with people when I die because I think it will give people who knew me well a sense of joy when they realize what exactly it is. Also, it’s creepy awesome.

Finally, “Rothko Chapel” is another one of my all time favorites. Feldman was commissioned to write music for performance in the as-yet unfinished Rothko Chapel, a non-denominational chapel in Houston, TX commissioned by John and Dominique de Menil and designed by artist Mark Rothko (with several different architects). Rothko committed suicide before the chapel was completed in 1971; the de Menils asked Feldman at the chapel’s opening ceremony that compose a piece for the chapel that debuted in 1972 and served both as a site-specific work for the chapel and as a memoriam for the deceased Rothko. The piece is full of additional nods towards death; it includes a soprano melody that Feldman initially wrote on the day of Igor Stravinsky’s death, as well as the “quasi-Hebraic” closing viola melody that evokes a synagogue service. The piece is stark and sad until the end, when the viola injects a feeling of hope that I think would be a lovely end to a memorial.

How do you want it shared?

I’m undecided at this point on whether I want a funeral or not. I think, at the very least, that sending out a playlist of these three, in the order listed above, would be a nice way to ask people to think of me after I’m gone. If there is some kind of memorial, I would encourage people to move around and explore the space if they wanted to.

Your no-go songs?

Anything (ANYTHING) by Steely Dan or Phillip Glass.