Book cover image of Ovid’s Metamorphoses
Published: December 9, 2019

Music and Neuroscience major Jeremy Corren CC'17 was inspired by Ovid's Metamorphoses to compose this original piano piece.

"I composed “Shape-Shift” with the intention of capturing the spirit of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. I was careful not to construct a programmatic piece, or one that functioned as some explicit musical metaphor for the narrative contour of Ovid’s epic anthology of classical myths. Pitch sets and dynamic shifts do not directly correspond to the essences of characters and the denouements of their individual stories, but I hope that the non-representational shape that this music takes embodies Ovid’s timeless theme of constant, unquantifiable change. 

The introductory section (0:00-0:48) is a vague impression of the Metamorphoses’ introductory sequence in which formless matter is slowly molded into a distinct, orderly whole. The developmental section that follows it, from (0:49-1:23) introduce an urgent rhythmic motif that is meant to describe the violence that precedes the process of transformation each of Ovid’s tragic persons undergoes: Daphne and Caenis, for example, who, before taking their places in Ovid’s mythical framework as a laurel and a golden-winged bird respectively, are forced to endure the pursuit of a lustful god or the forceful blows of a pack of centaurs. (1:24 to 2:15) introduces a consistent rhythmic pulse, suggesting that as the collective metamorphosis of Ovid’s world persists, change itself becomes a constant, which is highlighted by frequent, settled syncopations of the music’s percussive element.

The final section of the piece (2:15 onward) alludes to the final book in Ovid’s cycle, in which Pythagoras describes the ultimate result of constant Ovidian transformation: a liberation of the soul, which transmigrates beyond the flesh of its particular human encasing and into the liquid realm of spiritual freedom—this is represented by the liberation of the piece as it is transformed from 'solid physical matter’ of its meticulous arrangement into the 'spiritually' free improvisation of its finale."

Jeremy Corren


Core Scholars are students who create Core Reflections to analyze, question, dramatize, interpret and reflect on the works of the Core Curriculum. Core Scholars are selected annually.

Who is Jeremy Corren CC'17?

Jeremy Corren CC'17 began seriously studying jazz piano and music composition at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts in 2009. In 2013 he was named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts, a Silver Award winner in the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts ‘YoungArts’ program. Jeremy is a 5-time winner in the DownBeat Student Music Awards, a 3-time performer at the Monterey Jazz Festival, and performed at the Vail Jazz Festival under the direction of Grammy-winner John Clayton. In 2011 he served as a ‘musical ambassador’ in the Thelonious Monk Institute Peer-to-Peer Education Program, mentoring inner-city music students in Denver, Colorado. He now works as a Software Engineer in New York.

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