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The Music of Coriander Woodruff

corianderatthelof2t.jpgThe Following appeared in the regional newspaper insert “All About Her” in January 08.

Coriander Woodruff has been her own kind of musician since she was a toddler making drums from empty coffee cans.

When she was ten years old, she heard a segment on NPR radio about GarageBand, a software program that features a virtual soundboard for mixing and recording sound. She knew it was the next step in her music exploration. With GarageBand, Coriander could sample a variety of instruments, loop sequences, and synthesized sound to create her own musical collages in the comfort of her home.

Her father is a computer programmer and her mother is an artist. Her older brother leads a Floyd Ghost Tour with a theatrical flair, and another member of the Woodruff household is a musician. Considering Coriander’s background, it’s no wonder that by the time she was thirteen years old she had composed and produced two CD’s of electronica music.

“What was your party like?” I asked her. We were in the Black Water Loft, a café in downtown Floyd where the October release party for her second CD, Black Light Blue Frog, was held.

“There were plasma balls and lava lights,” she answered. She described how her father projected a light show onto the café wall. And what would electronica music, also known as house party music, be without a black light? There was one, she said.

In between sips of tea, Coriander’s mother, Pat Woodrufff, told me that the October 26th CD Release Party was also Coriander’s 13th Birthday Party. Coriander described how the black and white costume she wore to the party and in the photo on her newest CD cover came from a Halloween costume search. “I wanted to be an “optical illusion,”’ she said.

According to Coriander, her early music was “awful stuff that had me pulling out my hair.” In the first year working with GarageBand, she did a lot of “testing.” It took a year before she composed something she was proud of, a song from her first CD, Spirit Web, entitled Galaxy Seeker. More recently some of her music was featured in “Floyd Home Companion,” a parody of Garrison Keillor’s Radio Show, Prairie Home Companion, with a Floyd twist. The play was recently performed in Floyd by Coriander and other cast members of Floyd’s Young Actors Co-op.

As with her early coffee can drumming, Coriander has been using a computer since she was very young. She taught herself touch typing after being involved in an “adventure chat room” in which you had to type fast to keep up with the game. That kind of self-motivation is a thread that runs through her and her family’s life. As a homeschooler, Coriander’s curriculum is based on the learning that is inherent in pursuing her interests. Her parents encourage her hands-on learning style. Working with GarageBand puts music making in Coriander’s own hands. It also allows her family to avoid expense recording session fees.cori1.jpg

We left the Black Water Loft and went to Coriander’s home, where she showed me her digital audio workstation and explained how she can find a sound to match the mood of a piece by searching under headings, such as Happy, Relaxing, or Dark. She can also overlay everyday sounds into her compositions. One of my personal favorite examples of this is in a song called “Please Turn Off Your Cell Phone,” in which she incorporates recorded phone sounds into a beat, everything from dial tone, to ‘if you would like to make a call, please hang up and try again,’ and her brother talking on the phone.

When I asked her if she was working on a new CD, she explained that she wanted to create music that would feel like the stars and the beginning of the universe. “It’s going to be hard, but I want to do it.” She added that making a CD takes a year or two because she can only work when she feels inspired.

At one time electronic music was a genre of its own, but these days many well known musicians incorporate it into their songs. The term “electronica” was first used in the early 1990’s to describe the rave movement and global-influenced dance music, but now it is also created for forefront and background listening. Also known as techno-music, electronica is a fusion of many types of music. It was once categorized with jazz and has been used heavily in New Age Music.

To those who think electronica music isn’t real music because it’s more about composing and mixing than it is about playing an instrument or singing, Coriander says, “If it effects you makes you happy, and moves you; it’s music. She promised me she’d invite me to her next CD Release Party. ~Colleen Redman

Note: Coriander Woodruff’s CD’s, Spirit Web and Black Light Blue Frog, are available at noteBooks in downtown Floyd. They can be purchased by mailing $10 plus $2 postage to Gryphon Studios, PO Box 190, Emporium, PA, 15834. You can visit www.myspace.com/musicCoriander to hear selections from her CD’s.


Wow, that was so information. I've heard the terms but never have clued into what electronica is. Coriander certainly is making the most of her exploratory path.

It was so much fun to interview a young homeschooler. The issue had other articles on homeshcooling in it.

Wow- kids are so much more technically advanced than we middle aged folk! She is an amazing girl and I hope her CD brings much success.

Coriander is the girl that came in to the salon with her mother when I was getting a pedicure to have a streak dyed in her hair, which I wrote about here http://www.looseleafnotes.com/notes/2008/01/my_famous_foot.html I guess you can see she picked fucsia.

I had no idea what that was. She is a cute kid, Colleen. Thanks for posting it.

I agree with Coriander when she says: “If it affects you makes you happy, and moves you; it’s music." I feel the same way about my photography. Some are artistically enhanced in Adobe Photoshop...not "pure", if you will. But if you like what you see, isn't that what matters?

That's a very interesting perspective, and it made me think twice about electronica. I wonder if Ray Lynch is considered Electronica? I used to love his stuff. It always floors me when I hear it in a grocery store now since for years it was only played at New Age Festivals and Stores.

~S :)

This has nothing to do with your blog entry except for the picture. I read another blog of mother who has a daughter about the same age. This mother was recently called into the principal's office because her daughter had her hair colored very similarly to the young girl above. This was a public school and they felt the red color on top of the natural color was too distracting for the other students. I was so angry when I heard the narrow-minded approach of the school administration and felt they were using irrelevant arguments to stifle creativity! I am still mad when I think about it.

I agree, Tabor. It seems like a pretty mild way for a kid to express themselves creativily. My son Dylan dyed his hair a reddish color once. Although I don't like the chemicals in dyes, I thought it looked pretty good and thought he was brave to step out of the box and try it.

I’ve been a fan of electronica from the very beginning and it rounds out my collection of eclectic tastes very well. I'm always awed and impressed when I read about a young person being so productive, but a little bit jealous also. It's taken me forever to figure out what some of my talents are and it's hard to focus on any one thing. Good for her and good for her parents for encouraging her.

Thought you might like to know that I finally posted my response to the meme you tagged me with tonight.

Hello, Colleen...Michele sent me to say that I hope you are feeling better...Really enjoyed reading about this very interesting young woman! I hope she has a long career at whatever she choses to do. Loved the fact that she said she can only work when she is inspired...sounds like a few of us!!! Guess that happens to all - it doesn't matter what your medium is!!!!

I love June's comment - in each indiviaul soul is real..I gave you a hat Valentines day did you like it ??Coriander wondrous name

listened to it and got a definite groove on

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