Spring Sing 2023: Tuning candid lyrics to bright melody, Amed Galo Lopez gazes inward with ‘Mírame’
Alumnus and doctoral student in the history department Amed Galo Lopez holds his guitar in the air. Lopez will perform at Spring Sing on Friday. (Julia Zhou/Daily Bruin)
May 19, 2023 1:36 a.m.
With enthusiasm and vivacity, Amed Galo Lopez melds lyrical honesty and melodic exuberance.
Lopez, an alumnus and doctoral student in the history department, said he seeks to kindle joy among his listeners, an aspiration he carries with him into the upcoming Spring Sing competition. Performing an original song, “Mírame,” which juxtaposes the vigor and vitality of Spanish flamenco with the bitterness of a soured romance, Lopez said he and his guitar will enter the competition with a spirit of openness and excitement. Lopez said his participation in the musical tradition is truly the fulfillment of a yearning first realized in his time as an undergraduate student. His subsequent lyrical and compositional growth, as well as his appreciation of the liberating power of song, nurtured his ambition and compelled his entrance this year, he said.
“(Playing the trumpet) is how I was able to really feel music and love it and see it as being a part of humanity,” Lopez said. “If I simply stopped playing, I would lose the feeling, so I just kept playing, and I would find every opportunity I could get.”
As an avid and experienced instrumentalist, Lopez said he has cultivated a fruitful consciousness of cadence. This grasp of rhythm, he said, contributes to his contriving of melodious tunes upon which heartfelt lyrics may then be cast. Collaborator William Longin said Lopez’ pattern of composition engages creativity and a sense of playfulness that foster a sentiment of spontaneity. The Spanish lyrics of “Mírame,” which translates to “look at me,” sprouted instinctively, Longin said, as Lopez swiftly fastened verse to melody.
The tune engages a contrast between a lyrical sharpness and a melodic zest, Lopez said. Likening the tempo of the song to a heartbeat, he said “Mírame” mirrors the rapid escalation of an agitated pulse. The mellow, percussionist beat upon which the song opens is soon overwhelmed by the rapid flamenco of the chorus, just as timid murmurs unfurl into a feverishly earnest expulsion of sentiment in the disintegration of a romantic rapport, Lopez said. However, he added that these moods of lyrical grievance and emotional exhaustion are at odds with the effervescence of the melody, which contains an animated character that has brought pleasure to its listeners.
“You can see the smiles on their faces because they have the chance to express themselves through art, through life,” Lopez said. “They’re able to be seen as a person – they’re able to be heard as a person when they’re singing along with your tune.”
Endeavoring to musically saturate each of his engagements, Lopez said he has brought his passion for song to his quotidian and scholarly pursuits. His study of incarcerated people in Kenya and Latin America, for instance, has been influenced by his art, Lopez said. He contemplates and engages the remedial role of music, which enables reconciliation with one’s past and an encounter with one’s history, as he interacts with his subjects.
The medley of environments in which Lopez has performed “Mírame,” he said, has further facilitated the song’s evolution, as it has been enriched by both Mexican and Kenyan tones, as well as by its translation into Swahili. Lopez said he has found satisfaction in sharing the song and observing its ebullient effect on those who hear it.
In performing, Lopez not only exudes an authentic adoration for his musical endeavor but also conveys a candid humanity that infuses his vocations of composition and song, said Teofilo Ruiz, a distinguished research professor of history whose course assignments have permitted Lopez’ creativity to surface. Lopez’ artistic ardor, Ruiz said, is tethered to his compassion, an entwining evident in the dynamic and contagiously joyful nature he brings to performance.
“There is here that kind of embracing of the moment, and the joyful embracing of the moment,” Ruiz said. “We need more of that. Art, and not as a means of suffering, but art as means of redemption, a joyful redemption.”
In meditating upon his approaching Spring Sing performance, Lopez said he is keen to create an environment in which listeners may unearth and release emotion, uncovering the profound radiance of the musical moment. Whether that be by way of an intimate resonance with the lyrics or a jovial indulgence in the melody, Lopez said he simply seeks to engage his audience through music, giving them the opportunity to express themselves.
“Music prevails,” Lopez said. “That’s really it. It always does.”