Monday, December 31, 2012

Sway of the Modern II

There is no "Year Zero" in any real cultural sense.

Modernity eliminates nothing of value, recognizing the existence of the past in the moment now, along with the future.  Discernment, choice, reason, judgement, and vision make that moment new and illuminate things to come.

Sunday, December 30, 2012


It is necessary to explore.  Repetition is not viable.

The artist today does not compromise, because there are no incentives to act in accordance with anything less than aesthetic vision and reason, that is to say, truth.

Anonymity has become more highly prized than fame; commercial success offers little more than dubious remuneration; musical styles once universally popular have devolved into feeble, indistinct shadows of their originals.

While what is called music may cease to grow, change, and unfold, the art of sound must do so.

Saturday, December 29, 2012


The art of thinking begins with emotional restraint.

This is by no means a suppression of feeling, but rather a conscious, deliberate rejection of emotional subjectivity.  Awareness is altered, impressions gain clarity, subtlety of perception is enhanced.

Accordingly, the creative arts that reflect such perspectives are distinct from those motivated by the expression of emotion and personality.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Listen, Hear, See, Go.

Under the burden of subjectivity, the senses cannot be reliable.

What happens to be unseen, unheard, or unapproached by thought and feeling yet remains. Action, stillness, contemplation, perceptivity and creativity become, at times, conscious choices.

And art follows.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Avenue Canyon, Carpet Whisper, Windy Pines

Music enters awareness as various sets of sound patterns, usually songs with which children become familiar. These differ in tone, form, and perceived content from aural imagery produced environmentally, whether found in nature or in settings like streets, buildings and other common areas.

Then comes recognition and understanding; the instruments, beats, chants, popular songs, classical works and diverse artists; hymns, voices, ballads, soloists, stars and superstars, soundtracks and radios and collections of any and all things with melody, harmony, structure and rhythm-- and all are seemingly inexhaustible.

Yet the first world heard before the learned perception of the musical forms and genres is the real world as well; it is change, imagination its catalyst, and its sounds are essential elements that suggest possibilities beyond those given to represent music.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Course of Aural Imagery

Suppose all sounds in continuum.

Regard listening and hearing, to the extent possible, as uninterrupted experience.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Reception, Perception, Apprehension, Knowledge

In the lost realms of reason, it was believed that reality could be approached in objective and transcendent terms.

The senses open, attention is engaged, impressions take place, and then those impressions are assessed by the mind as true, false, or indifferent, depending upon information at hand.

Certainly this implies the need for awareness that the search for critical knowledge is a process that never ends, and that the unknown may be, at times, within one's grasp.

Monday, December 24, 2012

To Eye and Ear, the Real

Much of what is seen and heard happens across time and distance in forms of electronically generated imagery.

Engaging attention with sensations, most particularly those of sight and sound, forming impressions and recognizing a sense of presence, one may apprehend the reality of experience.

But not all impressions, and foremost among them those delivered through technological media, are free of ambiguity.

As one may choose discernment of beauty, so also may one be open to truth. For the artist and the composer, this perceptivity is of peculiar moment, in the determination of the value of replacing the past or discovering the future.  

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Mass Mind and Media

The senses are extended by technology, intensified, exaggerated, and in the course of these effects, weakened.

The natural state of the senses, that is to say, awareness unadulterated by anticipation of events grounded in experience of communications technology, may at times appear strange and uncanny.

Direct experience, in such cases, takes on aspects of the mystical.

For such reasons, among many, I choose to take music toward the unfiltered experience of sound events structured to the larger world, and outside the generic forms.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sound Approaching Mind

There exist deeper mysteries than all those found within the ambit of electronic media.

There are deeper, longer thoughts, and far more distant destinations than are realized in the frenetic commonplace of events as they are now understood.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Connectivity, Representation, Individual Vision

Cultural, social, and personal environs converge and diverge continually.

Observe the ways each alters communication, creativity, and perspective. What is to be seen and heard in the varied settings and conditions associated with each may be rich with ideas, emotions, and implications at certain times and places, yet, at others, meaningless and absurd or intellectually and emotionally bankrupt.

Choice of idea, feeling, theme, and manner of expression guides the artist's hand, whether in the direction of  the common and mundane or toward the ineffable and uncanny.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

In the Moment

Observe and listen.

Of the senses, these are of greatest importance to reason and intuition.  See, hear, and reflect upon experience; contemplate the possible and the mysteries of the here and now.

But mine is a Nineteenth Century mind, confronting the quandary of the debate regarding divine order and mundane chaos, unmoved by any desire to be and become no more than a healthy animal.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Grand Air of Experience

Perception informs reason.

Music engages the temporal and the physical, but these need not claim and subdue the imagination.

Their combination may, in fact, bring about a catalytic atmosphere that elevates and liberates the sense of being beyond the material strictures of time and space.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Periphery of Music

At its cultural center the manner of composing and listening to music is representative of the narrow vision of popular entertainment.  There is nothing beyond the generic forms in such a view.

The imaginative perspective seeks aesthetic beauty in all forms, including those in such continual flux that, like the rhythms and patterns of nature, they appear to be formless.

The recognition of such subtleties begins with reason and yields an intuitive grace of understanding, evolving gradually past the mundane until evoking, at times, a sudden brilliant satori of expanded perception.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Motion and Repose, Modernity and Tradition

Advanced technology does not necessarily imply advanced thinking.

Progress and innovation are inconsequential without the perception and assessment associated with reason.  In musical artistry, technique in performance and brilliance in composition mean little if they provide nothing more than transient diversion and entertainment.

To contemplate and reflect upon representations of elevated expression-- as opposed to the merely frenetic and mundane-- is to listen, and to hear, engaging and expanding consciousness in the course of everyday experience.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Emerging Figures, Aural Distances

Patterns multiply and disperse.  Footsteps, heartbeats, air traffic, television, creatures of the wilderness by the sun and moon.

Every atmosphere evidences sounds that might be called natural, or those associated with culture, social environments, and technology, or any combination of all of these.

Every sound is an event, with so many going unnoticed that discernment dims until perception awakens.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Observation, Observer, Reflection II

Every work is colored by the experience of the composer.

Undefined by rhythm and melody, these compositions originate in auditory imagery suggested by the continuum of sounds encountered throughout the day, moving from one environment to another.

Friday, December 14, 2012

No. 21 in G#m: "Environs I"

Environs I

Track Listing:
1.  Observation  13:58
2.  Emerging Figures  12:13
3.  Motion and Repose  18:25
4.  Periphery  8:50
5.  Grand Air  20:57

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Black Mountain School / Environs I

The album Environs I developed concurrently with these notes over the past year.

Certain developments will be apparent to the reader and listener.  While retaining the sustained atmosphere as being conducive to introspection as well as contemplative observation and enhanced perception, the piece emerges over the course of five sections, or movements if you prefer, each contributing variations in tone and mood to the total effect.

Additionally, rather than creating juxtapositions of sounds with the intent of encouraging consideration of specific ideas, events, and imagery, these musical elements were chosen and arranged in ways so as to heighten the beauty of the listening environment itself, regardless of setting or conditions.

Environs I, then, is the first album in a planned series broadly envisioned and designed for place and perspective.

From No. 21 in G#m, "Environs I": 1. Observation  (13:58) by Black Mountain School

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Consciousness, Media, Awareness

Immersion in information culture alters states of mind and being.

These variations in perspective, brought about by the continuum of fragmentary imagery absorbed through electronic media, may often be likened, even in their complexity and diversity, to the cultural conditions of the denizens of Plato's cave, for whom the forms of shadows cast on the cave walls are reality.

To come into the light is to be deeply cognizant of living in the moment that is now and to more fully perceive the settings and atmospheres in which life is experienced and realized.

These compositions are designed to enhance those contemplative moments and perceptions.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Awareness and Idea

The sensory perceptions, engaged by reason, offer possibilities of expression in all forms.

Compositions designed with sounds communicate their peculiar effects by giving rise to states of mind both emotional and rational, as suggested through aural imagery.

The listener's thoughts and feelings, with their individual and cultural significance, contribute to the total effect of the work and its aesthetic force.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Perceptual Intensity

Refinement of sensory apprehension entails conscious choice, intent, and purpose.

The warrior exposed to danger engages the environment to a heightened degree, as do others who hazard risk in diverse circumstances.

More rarely are such states of being cultivated, through the art of contemplation, for increased attainment of moral reason, spiritual vision, and aesthetic perspective.

These compositions are designed to reflect, as much as possible, an impetus toward clarity of thought, feeling, expression and action.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Atmospheric Imagery

Observe combinations of sound perceived as occurring continuously through all waking environments.

Consider music evolving over the course of centuries according to such a paradigm.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Abstract Reality

No concept is without connections; no wall is too high for ideas to surmount.

Art will be, regardless of time, distance, or cultural perceptivity, the force it embodies.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Sonic Structures

Sounds are shaped by environments, and auditory imagery shapes perceptions of settings.

Every expression has its history, its formative influences, its development over time and its peculiar themes and effects when it comes into being as a singular vision.

Every person perceives in unique ways; this individuality is reflected in the way of the artist.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Sound, Sensation, Direction

Listen beyond the ordinary, hear past the known.

Sounds brought into being may be ordered and controlled according to rhythms, melodies and harmonies, but these are not the sole aspects of the musical and beautiful.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Environs I: Observation

Center awareness in any setting.

Let line, color, shading, curvature, depth and texture dominate perception and be transformed into a living spectrum of sounds.

Environs I mp3 edition

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Presences and Impressions

Colors, shapes, and forms evoke sounds.

Streams of tones and moods, clusters of feelings, and ideas both clear and vague coalesce, move in the direction of musical language, disperse, return and renew in diverse aural textures and images, filling moment and place.

These compositions give a sense of their pursuit.

Monday, December 03, 2012


Narrow focus and expression in the arts signal cultural complacency.

Failure to look beyond the given and the known is a failure of vision and imagination. There is no art without risk, and no future without questions.

To hear what is yet distant is not as difficult as the choice to hazard listening for those sounds that may be beyond the horizon, or in places unexplored.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Obscurity and Volition

Recordings made at various times and places of environments generally considered to be empty or silent reveal much that goes undetected throughout daily activity.

Attention continually focused on all things ordinary steals from consciousness the fabric of reality and being. There is always something profound in motion; the presence of meaning, however fragmentary, can be brought to light, with the will to extend perception and the mind, and to know.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Space, Sound, and Possibility

Multiple sound events, separately and simultaneously, take place within all fields of listening perspective.

Within every perspective are diverse levels of receptivity and perceptual acuity related to hearing and listening.  Music designed in such ways as to correspond to the nature of environmental activity as well as auditory perception as it is engaged in movement through a variety of settings is far more reflective of the principles of art than those of music.

It is a distinctively different way of experiencing sound.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Continuum of Transformations

Tone, mood, setting, atmosphere, perception and being.

Every listener and every listening experience represents a different context.

The deepest things are not the most complex, but the simplest in nature.

Sample from "Environs I" (5:52) by Black Mountain School:  Excerpt "Environs I"

For December release.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Convergence of Elements

Different shapes, shadings, and presence.

What is heard depends upon who listens, and hears.

Coming soon in the digital formats:  "Environs I" by Black Mountain School.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Attributes of Design

Perspective, texture, color, line, position in space, symmetry, symbol.

Each of these aspects of the visual arts, among many others, applies equally to the arts of sound.

It is the vision of the artist that conceives meaning and determines the ways through which combined effects bring essential ideas to final expression in any form.

Listen to a painting or photograph; envision a musical work.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Living Sounds

Within and without, whether listening with intensity or hearing passively and indirectly, sound is a constant and dynamic perceptual experience.

The listener may or may not be able to determine how much of this dynamic is a matter of choice and taste, but it is certain that a conscious awareness of the atmospheres in which one is engaged with the events of the day offers understanding of the tone of one's personal perspective and state of mind.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sensation, Experience. Aesthetics.

Art needs no explanation.

It exists without interpretation and nomenclature.

It is the artist who brings, by choice, every facet of idea and act to bear upon the work. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Environs I, as a musical composition, is designed to evoke impressions of multiple perspectives.

The listener may observe, for example, variations of the following: auditory imagery within a sequence of sounds; within such aural events, a series of complementary sound shadings; in context with these sound combinations, tones in linear or asymmetric patterns and peripheral clusters, and additionally, over time, shifting points of view in perceiving the work through direct and indirect attention, according to the circumstances of each listening experience.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sound, Sense, and Psyche

The same songs, again and again. Saturation and predictability numb and stultify. Experience is dimmed in dull, thoughtless fogs.

The world around echoes with stunning potential and blinding beauty, nonetheless.  The way of the artist is to envision with clarity, to listen and hear the flux and stream of being, and to express the ineffable while the future follows.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Like Rain to Dusty Lands

A moment's pause, to engage perceptive feeling.

Envision the sounds of the sublime and assemble them according to their natures.  Follow their patterns, pursue them in their improbable symmetry and anomalous, yet ordered, forms, until it becomes impossible not to listen and hear their illumination of the senses, and the spirit.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

To Walk Through Walls

Approach creativity dispassionately, without bias and self-interest.

This is constancy in motivation and outcomes, effortless application of power, and restraint yielding elegance and grace.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sounds of Place and Perspective

Musical designs evocative of auditory imagery as it is perceived to emerge and evolve in the natural course of everyday activities need not be any less interesting than those that bring to mind particular experiences in the imagination of the listener or composer.

Previous Black Mountain School recordings, inspired by particular times and places, suggest the end of summer (Phenomena), the atmospheric settings of urban and rural China (Night Traffic and The Celestial Way), and perspectives altered by technological and transcendental viewpoints (Delmarva and Elevation, respectively).

The next album, Environs I, is the first of a series composed in a manner complementary to the previous extended ambient pieces without reference to specific settings and events. Thus, as far as possible, these works may enhance the environment and imagination of the listener directly. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tone Poems, Ambient Atmospheres

In the course of history, when empires collapse and are lost to memory, their ruins are many times believed to have been the work of giants.  This photo, taken in the Central Bohemia region of the Czech Republic, suggests such a scenario in an abandoned construction left behind with the fall of the Soviet Union.

It also provides the inspiration for a work of atmospheric music currently being developed by the Black Mountain School project, in keeping with the sound and content of the previous albums.

The content of the classical tone poem is designed conceptually and musically to suggest such ideas and events, and to encourage the listener to imagine them.  Among numerous examples are Debussy's La Mer, Finlandia by Sibelius, and An American In Paris by Gershwin.

Clearly, electronic ambient music lends itself to similar, if modest and minimalistic, applications.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Territories of Sound

Varieties of experience are associated with sound-- musical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual come to mind first.

For many with open, perceptually engaged and contemplative natures, atmospheric aspects of sound heighten or intensify these experiences. Unlike predictable elements of rhythm and melody, however, they are not generally the fundamental components of musical compositions.

The composer and listener are linked in the same explorations, searching beyond the given and the obvious for the uncanny, the extraordinary and the elevated.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sound Merging with Light and Image

All the arts intersect in countless ways.  While music is most often created according to traditional theories, it may also be based upon any number of artistic ideas and philosophies.

Today's image has been selected by Brian Eno and his team as one of the featured images on the LUX - Day Of Light website. It will appear on the large main photo display and within the live streamed video on .  It also lives within the 'View Submissions' tab, complete with a special red dot to signify that it was featured.

Please spread the word:

Friday, November 16, 2012

Changing Recognition

The material and physical in nature are impermanent, undergoing constant transformation.

Recorded compositions that are designed to evolve gradually around the listener reflect this reality.   As in the case described by the aphorism that says it is impossible to cross the same river twice, because the river and person crossing it are different, the attention one gives such musical works varies and is modified with each listening.

In becoming acclimated to aural atmospheres of this type, the listener may gain diverse perspectives on music and sounds. Old biases may be set aside, altering approaches to listening and hearing.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Shift Perspectives, Devise Doorways

Simply postulate music as combined sounds that emphasize elements other than those of rhythm, percussion, melody, harmony and the standard arrangements of genre fare, and approach it in the manner of mixed media art.

In concept and execution, set aside the sour, narrow pretensions of the amateur, striving instead for the beautiful and elevated, focusing on aesthetic arrangement of tones, textures, colors and shading, form, space, depth and total effect.

Listen.  Hear.  Allow the atmosphere to become what it is; without interference, bring it into being.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Combinations, Effects, Outcomes

Experimentation is a matter of process.

In the arts, when experimentation leads to desired effects, progress is made in the development of methods; when these methods result in works that meet the criteria upon which they are conceived, and, when evaluated, they meet aesthetic standards of completeness, the works are no longer to be considered experimental.  They are then, in the sense of reaching successful conclusions, finished, and the ways and means of their design and construction may continue to be refined.

From concept to conclusion such processes involve risks and obstacles, and may take many years. But this is the way of the artist in the pursuit of bringing visions and expressions into being.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Inner Echoes

Sound is by nature intimate.

Sounds are internalized; their embrace is emotional, spiritual, cerebral and physical.  Their imprint is felt in character and attitude, and in the aesthetic and moral senses as well.  Combinations of sounds and their manner of presentation engender feelings and states of mind with lasting effects.

Such are the impressions the composer offers the listener.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Stir of Impressions

The artist perceives, and expresses.

All the senses interact with the reasoning, emotional and spiritual faculties to weave the threads of personal experience.  Drawn together and given form in sound, these threads convey the realities glimpsed by the composer through musical images and aural gestures.

To listen in accordance is to hear the impress of being and meaning.