Haley Huett, A&E Editor
Robert Stark ’23, like many seniors at the College, is hard at work on his Independent Study. As a music composition major, Stark’s I.S. involves the creation of an original work, not dissimilar to his fellow students in the department. However, Stark’s I.S. departs from the usual route taken by many music composition majors. Typically, an Independent Study in the department involves students performing their own works in a recital-style format, but Stark is not planning for a recital; he is putting together an album.
Although not unheard of – in years prior, students have produced similar projects, like a contemporary gospel album – Stark’s project is unique in a number of ways. Not only is Stark producing an album that he describes as “rock…broadly,” he also plans to produce a series of artworks that correspond to each song. Formatted as an art book, Stark plans to showcase both aspects of the project at a listening party at the end of the year.
Titled “Missing Indigo,” which Stark explains is a reference to the cover art from Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon,” the album is influenced by a wide variety of genres and artists. Although Pink Floyd is a major inspiration, there is also plenty of room for 90s alternative, jazz and electronic influences on the album. Ultimately, Stark is aiming for an experience that is “eclectic and diverse,” explaining that, “I don’t want any two songs to sound the same.” With Stark contributing the vocals, as well as keyboard, bass guitar and a little bit of regular guitar, “Missing Indigo” is an exploration of his musical talents while also pushing him outside of his comfort zone. Structurally, Stark pulls from bands and albums that he loves. Citing Björk’s “Homogenic,” as well as the collected works of Radiohead, Rush and Portishead, “Missing Indigo” will likely shape up to be an inclusive collection of genre and sound.
While the album features songs and lyrics that carry “personal and identifiable” meaning to Stark, the album also will include influences from outside of Stark himself. Currently, the album is set to end with one great musical collage. Inviting different musicians from the campus community that he admires, “Missing Indigo” will draw to a close with a communal collaboration.
Since an album is not typical for a music composition senior’s Independent Study, Stark describes the department as being slightly hesitant in supporting the project. However, he has received a wealth of support from both the department head and his own advisor, and so the project has begun to take shape.
When asked about plans moving forward, Stark honestly described the project as “intimidating.” Deeply meaningful, and with plenty of support from advisors and friends, Stark is glad for the opportunity to “leave Wooster with this memento.” Continuing, Stark says that “all of my friends are helping out with something that’s very meaningful to me… [it] helps me power through.” Although the creation of “Missing Indigo” can seem intimidating, it is, at the same time, something exciting.
“Missing Indigo” is an excellent example of the power of the Independent Study. Combining interest with personal experience and exposure to other musicians on campus, Stark’s album demonstrates that the Independent Study requirement can include creativity and originality. For those stuck with statistical analyses, human subjects and case studies, this seems like a faraway dream. For Stark, however, it is a reality. Most importantly, his project is interesting and fresh. Demonstrating the uniqueness of the College’s campus and its students, Stark’s “Missing Indigo” is a wonderful example of everything that Wooster students are capable of accomplishing.
Ask not what one might do for I.S., we remind you, and rather, ask what I.S. can do for you.