On Beginning Music Not With Silence 

Consider an idea: 

begin a piece of music not with silence, 
but with a soundscape from nature 
playing through your speakers or headphones. 

Use this soundscape not as a part of your piece or the piece itself
but as a springboard for the first sounds you’ll make or use, 
the first first chords you’ll play, 
the first beat you’ll drum. 

Beginning with wind or water reorientates your thinking about music 
as something connected to sounds already happening around you 
via your speakers or headphones. 

This reorientation asks you to consider:
How will my sounds “get along” with nature’s mix? 

I often use this approach to sort of ease into a piece—
to move from feeling as if I’m outside to being inside 
yet with an outside frame of mind. 

I’ll listen to wind and water 
and choose sounds that accompany them—
almost like a soundtrack underscore for a film. 

Once the musical ideas get going, I turn off the nature sounds, 
but sometimes I forget they’re there, 
which shows the work they’re doing. 

Now the music is foreground
and the wind and water
—the sounds that got me here—
recede to the background.   

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