To Make Art from Grief, Ray Soul Needed a New Language

Translating the pain of his mother’s suicide into other languages and artistic forms helped the composer create the song “Seu Aprendiz.”

December 22, 2021

When a song comes from a deeply personal place, the stakes for how best to communicate the story can feel almost impossibly high. This was certainly the challenge for composer and bassist Ray Seol (who performs as “Ray Soul”), assistant director of Global Initiatives, who worked for almost 15 years to write “Seu Aprendiz” (Portuguese for “Your Apprentice”), an investigation of the grieving process that followed Soul's mother’s suicide in 2006.

Part of the reason the composition took so long to finish is because Soul knew it needed to be more than a song. So he wrote an accompanying essay and commissioned photographers to create a visual component, all of which can be experienced at

“What do I do with all those moments that do not seem comprehensible?” Soul writes in the essay. In this episode of Sounds of Berklee, he breaks down how he arrived at an answer and created this beautiful and moving multimedia experience. His hope is that in sharing this story, it will help break the silence for others who have either lost loved ones to suicide or who have longed to feel less alone in their grief.

Special Note: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones. If you're a member of the Berklee community, you can also reach out to Counseling Services and find a counselor to talk to.

Produced by Bryan Parys and John Mirisola
Engineered by Isak Kotecki
Theme music by Sleeping Lion

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