This is the original clean version of my soundscape “Soldier’s Heart,” recorded April 27, 2019.
“Soldier’s heart” is a 19th-century term, used during the American Civil War, for what was later called “shell shock” or “combat fatigue,” nowadays known as post-traumatic stress syndrome.
Alongside my writing, I’ve been experimenting with soundscapes based on time distortions of improvised drum patterns. I am interested in possible connections between soundscapes, which I believe can slow the mind into contemplative states, and mental health. I firmly believe in the power of art of all kinds to transform negative experience into positive, to challenge preconceptions and to jolt the mind into a more open, healthier (if often initially disconcerting) place.
I made another soundscape, this one more ethereal, cleaner, less ragged. “Three Letters” is a reference to my current fiction project of the same name. It’s the last composition of one of the characters. for whom the three letters are USA, though each listener can imagine their own.
I’ve published it elsewhere under the old title “Bell and Sword.”
I’ve been experimenting with improvised, time-altered patterns on drums and other percussion to build evocative soundscapes, taking advantage of accidental discoveries along the way. The music resulting from this process aims to grab the listener’s attention with unusual sounds, suggest cinematic images in their imagination and slow the listener’s mind to a more contemplative state. In editing I choose passages that suggest transformation – moving from conflict to calm, for example, or hearing angelic voices amid violence. Each listener will project their own stories onto the music.
I haven’t stopped writing. But this is a very enjoyable way of clearing my mind and exercising other imaginative muscles, so to speak. Working across different media is an exciting extension of writing across different genres, as I have done before. Let’s see where it goes. Enjoy!
I joined Reuters, the international news service, when I was 25. I did some thrilling, fascinating, challenging, occasionally terrifying things over the subsequent three and a bit decades. I got to be a foreign correspondent, an editor, a mentor and a member of journalistic teams large and small in a dozen countries, mostly in the Americas. I was also at times their leader. It was a privilege to work with some fabulous people throughout that time. Now I’m off on new adventures, the exact nature of which will become clearer in the months to come. I don’t yet know myself, but that’s part of it. Still based in New York, blessed in family and friends. May the next 30 years be as exciting as the last 30. Today is day one.