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A Note on dHrAaNwDn

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I became interested in music when I was very young. My first recollection of some kind of interpersonal dialog with music was around the age of 3. I vividly remember this experience combining a sense of fear with an obsession to experience it repeatedly – nearly every morning. As afraid of the sound of one particular recording I was, I was compelled to listen to it over and over. As frightening as it was, it also gave me a thrilling experience like I hadn’t had before. From there, my interest in music focused on recreating this experience, or a similar version of it. Fortunately, the music my parents brought home satisfied this in a variety of ways, and as I got older I was able to pursue this experience more frequently and with even more clarity.

Once I began working with instruments, first the guitar, then piano, then later, drums, a whole new understanding of my relationship with music developed. Some of it was pleasant, some of it not, yet as time went on, I never really questioned or wondered what it was about music I liked. I just knew that it was almost all I ever thought about and it played a role in nearly every situation, even if it was only in my head. When I was around 7 or 8, I assumed many of my classmates weren’t into music simply because they weren’t exposed to it through their parents like I was. But as I got older I realized that I was drawn mostly to music that was less widely accepted. I began to wonder if it maybe wasn’t an issue of exposure for my peers, but simply their personal taste. I seemed to constantly find myself drawn to things that many classmates and even friends just weren’t interested in, and I couldn’t really understand why. The value seemed so obvious to me. This eventually led me to realize that there was maybe more to understand about the relationship with music than I had previously thought. My involvement with music began to reflect that, both as a listener and in my own playing, and I actively began seeking out and creating things that extended beyond just musical concepts, involving a wider range of ideas and disciplines.

Recently, I was talking with someone after a performance and I mentioned that I was almost more interested in the activity and experience that music can lead one to, rather than music as a thing itself. And that ultimately, it might not even be music itself that I’m actually interested in. This was a startling thought. I think that music is a vehicle that can be used to achieve particular experiences, and I’m not sure that there is another vehicle that can produce the same types of experiences. So music, in its many forms, is essential.

The recordings on dHrAaNwDn are from an approximately six-hour session where I played almost continuously. Prior to this recording, rehearsals involved hour-long sessions of continuous playing. Which drums, which patterns, what duration, and why, are all questions that don’t have specific answers as much as a trusted sense of intuition. When I began playing in the Meeting House at the Shaker site in Albany, I became instantly focused on the kind of activity that happened in that room over a hundred years earlier – dancing and singing that lead to trances involving both messages sent to spirits and spirits communicating back through the living. In the case of the Shakers, the room, the songs, the movement – each were vehicles used to get to something else, some other kind of experience. I imagined how these experiences affected their ongoing lives. Each of us has our own understanding of what comes out of our experience with music, and I think it’s worth asking, what is more important, music, or that mysterious, personal experience?