Music making is ultimate reset button

Buckley at 2008 Jonestown Lecture/Demonstration

Buckley at 2008 Jonestown Lecture/Demonstration

Playing music is hitting the ultimate reset button.


You are literally bringing sonic universes into being when you sit down to do it.


I try to play music or work on new music at least an hour a day. Some days I succeed, and sometimes I make things up down the line.


Beyond producing a piece of music, playing music is a huge stress reliever. When we get bogged down in the particular problems of our lives we tend to dwell on those issues, to the point that sometimes they block other things needed to move on. The problems loop over and over in one hemisphere of our brain.


But playing the piano or guitar or any instrument that requires both hands breaks the loop by forcing one to shift hemispheres of the brain. You become focused on the music making, and the problem moves farther into the background. After playing for a half hour or so you’re ready to look more objectively at the issue, or just move on. And in the process, you’ve created a new piece of music or added a bit of muscle memory to your kit. You may even have stirred a possible solution to the problem.



At heart I am an experimental composer. Always have been. I was fascinated by the mathematics of music when I was first thinking of becoming a composer. The way harmony is perceived because of the mathematical relationships between sounding frequencies. The way cycles of sound could create complex structures as the elements were looped again and again over radically different cell durations. It was intellectually compelling to me long before I consigned myself to attempting to actually play out what I was thinking.


Technology has helped me along the way, and opened up sonic vistas that never couple have been imagined in Bach’s, or even Beethoven’s, day.


Every night I try to work on another different problem. Sometimes I like to limit the number of tones I might use, or vary specific timbres of things already recorded to hear how different instrumental combinations would vary the impact of my tune.


I still like layering cyclical materials of variable lengths, as well as building click-track created, quantized polyrhythms that rock.


I enjoy using sequencers and, even more, just improvising. Taking an instrumental tone and seeing where it carries me, sometimes with a thought-out premise or mood, sometimes just seeing what my fingers produce. It is never a waste of time.

~ by Daniel Buckley on October 10, 2013.

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