For Good Measure

Da Capo Conversations with Marcus Norris and Sea Novaa

August 21, 2023 Marcus Norris and Sea Novaa Episode 64
For Good Measure
Da Capo Conversations with Marcus Norris and Sea Novaa
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For Good Measure, by Ensemble for These Times (E4TT)
Episode 64: Da Capo Conversations with Marcus Norris and Sea Novaa

Looking for a way to listen to diverse creators and to support equity in the arts? Tune in weekly to For Good Measure!

In this week’s episode, we revisit Marcus Norris’ and Sea Novaa’s perspectives on their paths to becoming a composer. If you enjoyed today’s conversation and want to know more about Marcus Norris and Sea Novaa, check them out here and here. Parts of this episode originally premiered on August 16, 2021, found on Youtube, click here, and  July 19, 2021, found on Youtube, click here.

This podcast is made possible in part by a grant from the California Arts Council and generous donors, like you. Want to support For Good Measure and E4TT? Make a tax-deductible donation or sign up for our newsletter, and subscribe to the podcast!

Intro music: “Trifolium” by Gabriela Ortiz, performed by E4TT (Ilana Blumberg, violin; Abigail Monroe, cello; Margaret Halbig, piano),  as part of “Below the Surface: Music by Women Composers,” January 29, 2022
Outro music: “Lake Turkana” by Marcus Norris, performed by E4TT (Margaret Halbig, piano), as part of “Alchemy,” October 15, 2021

Transcription courtesy of

Co-Producer, Host, and E4TT co-founder: Nanette McGuinness
Co-Producer and Audio Engineer: Stephanie M. Neumann
Podcast Cover Art: Brennan Stokes
Volunteer: Merve Tokar
Interns: Sam Mason and Renata Volchinskaya

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Nanette McGuinness:

[INTRO MUSIC] Welcome to For Good Measure, an interview series celebrating diverse composers and other creative artists sponsored by a grant from the California Arts Council. I'm Nanette McGuinness, artistic executive director of Ensemble for These Times. In this week's episode, we continue our Da Capo Conversations, a mini series where we'll be giving familiar segments a topical twist [INTRO MUSIC ENDS]. Today, we revisit Marcus Norris' and Sea Novaa's perspectives on their paths to becoming a composer. Here's what Marcus Norris had to say.

Marcus Norris:

So when I first started getting into making beats, I was like around 13 years old. And for me, like at that point, it was just super personal and super introspective. Like, I didn't even I didn't even show it to anybody. It was purely for me purely to process what was going on in my life and the things around me. And I feel like as I've grown, and I've added in more musical styles into my, like, my language, I've kept on to that, like, I never let go of it. And I think that's benefited me a lot. It just is still so personal is still so introspective for me. And it's still my way of like, processing the world. And I don't know, if I would have gotten that if I started with, like, learning concert music, you know what I mean? There's a lot more of a barrier to entry, and a lot more like formal training regimen in place. Whereas, you know, with with making beats or rap, it's like, you make your own way, you know what I mean? That outsider art type of thing.

Nanette McGuinness:

Here's what Sea Novaa had to say.

Sea Novaa:

Yeah, um, I feel very thankful to kind of come full circle. And I can easily remember the moments when my mom forced me to go to piano lessons, first at our church and then at a conservatory. And I didn't practice, so my progress was limited. And then I eventually persuaded her to let me learn the saxophone instead. The reason why the reason why that that moment is so meaningful to me is because now as a composer, I'm using piano as my main instrument. And I'm literally, you know, two years ago, taking piano lessons in Berlin, starting from scratch. And, you know, from there, progressing, and now, for me, it's, it's more of an issue of like, dexterity, so no, so no Rachmaninoff pieces anytime soon. But at least you know, for the purpose of composing and getting the harmonies and the melody, um, you know, I'm able to pick that up now. But you know, had I gone with my mom's suggestion, I, it would be a breeze, the composing aspect, or essentially, bringing the sounds from in my head out, you know. So, so that's, it's been a journey where I, I play music in high school, and I was in the marching band. And I saw music purely as a recreational and I was, in essence mimicking an older cousin, who was also he played tenor sax in the marching band, and I ended up getting a alto sax and, and then I was in other bands that are Concert Band, jazz band, and because I had a just naturally good embouchure, I'm still lacking dexterity with because of the embouchure. The conductor put me on oboe, bassoon and bass clarinet just to fill in wherever what's needed. So, um, I did that, but, you know, I have to say you, to me, you're using two very different parts of the brain when you're playing other people's music versus composing. So, really, when I when I decided after practicing law, and at six months, I tried to really learn music theory and continue being a very good lawyer. And I found it incredibly challenging because there's a there's a quote that the law is a jealous mistress and, um, it's so demanding. And so when I found myself kind of faltering on both ends, I decided I needed to really decide which one I wanted to continue in and I decided music and no music aspect came with surprise as I was getting over heartbreak. One evening, I was walking down Hausman Street in New York City, and I just started humming something that I really enjoyed, and it brought tears to my eyes, and I recorded it. And I that was like the beginning of the end of my legal career. But yeah, so it's, um, it's kind of been this process where so that was like 2017, where I decided I wanted to learn music. And then by 2019, I was able to...become a full-time composer. And thanks to my time in Berlin, I was able to make my vocation also my livelihood.

Nanette McGuinness:

[OUTRO MUSIC] Thank you for listening to For Good Measure's Da Capo Conversations, and a special thank you to our guests for joining us today. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to our podcast by clicking on the subscribe button and support us by sharing it with your friends, posting about it on social media and leaving us a rating and a review. To learn more about E4TT, our concert season online and in the Bay Area, or to make a tax deductible donation, please visit us at This podcast is made possible in part by a grant from the California Arts Council and generous donors like you. For Good Measure is produced by Nanette McGuinness and Ensemble for These Times and designed by Brennan Stokes. With special thanks to co-producer and audio engineer Stephanie M. Neumann. Remember to keep supporting equity in the arts and tune in next week "for good measure." [OUTRO MUSIC ENDS]

Today we revisit Marcus Norris’ and Sea Novaa’s perspectives on their paths to becoming a composer.
Here's what Marcus Norris had to say.
Here's what Sea Novaa had to say.