Most interviews with Alma include the same question: Where does her music come from? In a recent 60-Minutes interview, Scott Pelley received the following answer:5
“I don’t really know, but it’s really very normal to me to … walk around and having melodies popping into my head. It’s the most normal thing in the world. For me, it’s strange to walk around and not to have melodies popping into my head. So, if I was interviewing you, I would say, ‘Well, tell me Scott, how does it feel not having melodies popping into your head?’”
Oftentimes, the music comes when she’s most relaxed, either playing outdoors with her younger sister, or skipping rope. Her father, Guy Deutscher, a linguistics professor and amateur musician, taught her to read musical notes, but questions the influence of his role in her immense ability to create music, including scores for instruments she does not play.
He tells Pelley, “I thought it was me [that taught her to read music]. I hardly had to say [any]thing — and, you know, her piano teacher once said ‘it’s a bit difficult with Alma; it’s difficult to teach her because one always has the sense she’d ‘been there’ before.’” Alma also says she has “lots of composers” inside her mind, in a special “country” she created in her imagination.
These imaginary friends provide her with the emotional juices her tender youth lacks. Each one has their own emotional style of composing. One of them, Antonin Yellowsink, helped her compose a “dark and dramatic” violin concerto. “[S]ometimes when I’m stuck with something, when I’m composing, I go to them and ask them for advice. And quite often, they come up with very interesting things,” she says.