Presidential campaigns may inspire people to vote, but they rarely inspire people to compose music. Jazz pianist Marcus Roberts takes up the challenge on a new EP called Race for the White House, which explores the personas of four different candidates from this year's election cycle.
One of those candidates is Donald Trump; you can hear the song Roberts wrote to represent him below. It features a whistle, which he says is meant to express a particular vision of Trump.
"That symbolizes Donald just looking over his vast estate and just chilling and just having a great time," Roberts says. "And then the trumpet interrupts him just to make a bold statement of, 'I'm going to make America great again, all by myself.'"
Roberts says he was inspired by the unique personalities of the presidential hopefuls, and the challenges they face in communicating with potential voters.
"It's almost like you have to get into other people's experiences so that they can see their experience in you, and vice-versa," he says. "And I think that's a very important component of what's going on right now in America. I think everybody wants to feel like they're being understood and related to, as opposed to preached to or told what they should think."
Roberts lost his sight at age 5, so he's never actually seen these candidates. But, he says, you can learn a lot about politicians by listening to them — things you might miss just looking at them.
"If a person is nervous, they might talk a little faster — or, if they're really in command, they may project more of a louder voice," he says. "If they're really happy, they might use a higher pitch. There's a lot of information there when you hear people talk."
Roberts discussed translating those traits and tics into music with NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro. Hear more of their conversation at the audio link.