Reasons that are hidden

There are obvious reasons for writing music electronically. Things like history, love, relationships, revolt, etc. All of the classic reasons that inspire music of all kinds.

This topic is about the things that are not so apparent. I’m interested in understanding the things that have a big emotional impact on us, but that are rarely spoken of.

For me it has always been about closed doors in places that are out of the way or generally inaccessible. Doors on roofs, shuttered belfries, locked maintenance closets.

As soon as the door opens, and I am able to look inside, the allure disappears. But until that moment, a microscopic fluttering of anticipation persists in me.

So now that I’m in my 40s, the practice has been to wonder about what’s inside without actually opening the door.

When I was young, my grandmother used to take my brother and I with her on memorial day to Colorado (where she was from) to visit about five cemeteries. We would dress graves, clean up, and put fresh flowers for corpses of people that I never even knew.

One time when we were driving, we passed a field that had a couple of cellar doors installed on the slant of a hill. It was surrounded by grass, and no other indication at all what was under those doors.

Was it a storage shed? Was it the entrance to a tunnel, and an underground walkway? It was on a piece of farmland that was fenced off, and nowhere near an entrance. I have wondered my whole life what is behind those doors. It is the type of thing that haunts my music every time I return to my instruments.

Seeking similar stories/accounts from those of you who are inspired by such mysteries.


I’ve always been fascinated by useless liminal spaces. Doors that open onto empty space, stairs that lead nowhere, docks that sit on dry land, offramp stubs that were never completed, etc. They suggest something that was, or imagined but never was. Art is often about those things.


The way light moves through glass and water. Reflections, refractions, caustics, chromatic aberrations, color distortions, lensing, smudges, moire striping, murk. There is something so musical about it that easily maps to filters, EQ, delay, panning, mixing, sampling, aliasing, and all species of spectral undulations, striation, and bubbling.

Also, the sky. Good pads are always the sky.


i love personal symbols. our own mythologies we build up in our lives over time.

cotton candy and threadbare pockets make me think of my partner. the milky way and the number 11 make me think of a good friend who passed away. birds make me think of my kid. red skies, morning mists, and low wooden fences make me think of home.

i love packing my music and creative process full of these things that i know no one else understands, because they literally don’t mean those things to anyone else. it allows me to feel immensely vulnerable and literal, without literally being so.


I’ll try to contribute more later, but for now I’m following this beautiful thread :heart:


Thank you @Obolus for this contribution. I am a handful of weeks away from turning 51 and you have summarized one of the few ripe lessons I have harvested only recently. Mystery is a vital energy in my own life. While younger, it was ever present and drove me to explore, expand, and invent.

Over the decades I forgot this simple but essential element of my own experience. It was occluded by “knowing.” Even more so as I am increasingly surrounded by ever-present technology that allows for navigation through infinite information and data, the simple reminder that there are questions for which no answer is required is a blessing. Thank you so very much.

May you continue to discover and walk paths that have no end.


Well said.

Mystery and wonder have an important role in our lives.


For me, it’s an obsession with time and how we perceive it.

I love the feelings of living a minute in an hour and an hour in a minute, both of which I’ve felt while listening to or working on pieces. Music has a way of massaging time that I really love.


On some levels we dwell not in time but in eternity…

Music is a portal to other dimensions, in which nothing is quite what it seems, places of magic and mystery…

But it seems to slip away when examined too closely, like a deer at twilight…


I love this image!

I would also say that music teaches us the difference between an infinity of gentle breezes and an infinity of grains of sand.


Like life. Deeply experienced, never grasped… is the way.


Someone once said:

Sometimes, it’s more fun to want something than to have the thing. And that’s OK.

Been turning that one over in my head for a while :slight_smile:


It is in our cognition, to be so consumed by our like of something, that we have to possess it to feel like we have conquered something.

But that is not the case.


This reminds me of H R Giger’s shaft pictures. In Taschen’s HR Giger ARh+, Giger recounts a permanently obstructed window along the stairwell of his childhood house that looked into the neighbouring hotel. He imagined that what lay in the other side was a vast network of labyrinthine shafts.


When making my small bit of music I feel the pull of gravity, the allure of eternity and the passing of the clouds overhead. These feelings cause me to hold my breath while moving my hands and for many long minutes time passes without my knowing. Upon returning to “ordinary consciousness” it is always surprising to find that one half hour, or perhaps two hours have passed without my awareness. This experience is quite hypnotic.


The variability of the sense of time is particularly strong for me when patching my eurorack spaceship.

Hours pass and it feels like mere minutes.



I have had similar experiences with my semi-modular set up. That’s how it should be.

I’ve had friends indicate to me that they were put off by electronic music instruments because it is not as physical as playing guitar or drums.

I understand that point, if what you are aiming for is to put on a physical performance. I do play shows, and I understand the difference. But with electronic music, it feels very important to be just as much a listener as a performer.


this is exactly why my first time using softcut was a spiritual experience.

music is a space where you can hold time in your hands, stretch it out between your fingers, lay it down flat on the table in front of you, then turn it upside down and peer into a tiny hole in it’s belly


More so than any of the arts, music for me is ultimately about the question of why is there something rather than nothing? How, after a piece takes shape, is it possible that there’s now order and pattern and form where before there was nothing? It feels very much to me as if, in a fully structured work, one is instantiating or materialising an intellectual form that exists outside the world. And that is more magical in music because the form itself is evanescent in a way a painting or sculpture is not. Those unopened doors and untraveled roads and what lies behind them…


I think your use of the word “evanescent” is accurate. But when electronic music does hold a space, there is a sense of embodiment (or presence) there that is inexplicable.

It doesn’t merely move bodies. It is a mover also.

Sure, I can sample, sequence, and shape waves. But no matter how “responsible“ I feel for what has happened, just as much has happened on its own. Despite the things that I’ve done.

This is precisely where closed doors step into the equation (for me). Running a synth, or an FX pedal, or a drum machine through its paces is always simply a revealing act of what was always there. The same could be argued about acoustic instruments.

The relationship, in my opinion, is what ought to be celebrated.

1 Like