Sonic Divide is winding down. I have just three more pieces to record and then I’ll be done with the audio recording and I’ll get a CD pressed. Then I need to get all the musical scores of the pieces published in one volume, but after that it’s basically over. I will continue performing the amazing pieces for the rest of my life and I will get my students playing them too. Over time they will enter the repertoire.
One of the questions I frequently get at the Q and As following a screening of the film is “How did the Sonic Divide change you?” There are so many answers to that question, but I’ll try to be succinct:
- Confirmation that making music in natural settings is a powerful experience, and getting to those places under my own power connects me to the landscape and opens my ears, mind, and heart in ways that aren’t possible with a car or even a motorcycle (and I do love motorcycles . . . :)) It’s something I’ve felt for a long time, but formalizing that experience into a big project and sharing it with the world and hearing people’s positive responses confirms to me that my intuition was correct. And bikes are a the right vehicle for me. I love the combination of their simplicity, yet highly sophisticated engineering. I like that I can cover big distances, but still do the hard physical work to engage with the landscape. And I like that it doesn’t wear on my body as much as running or even hiking.
- I’m now a filmmaker. I never intended to become a filmmaker. The original plan was to simply film the performances and throw them up on YouTube, but then I thought to do a few interviews with the composers to give the music more context and the interviews were so thoughtful, and soulful, and creative, and inspiring that I decided there was a film in there. I considered hiring someone else to do it, but that would have required vast sums of money and I felt I could probably do it myself. So I learned how to use Premiere Pro. I took some lessons, I went through scores of tutorials, and I made seven or eight shorts leading up to the event to practice my filmmaking chops. I essentially went through two or three years of film school in a highly compressed six-month period. What I discovered is that I was actually very well prepared to make films. All of my years composing large-scale pieces of music taught me how to manage energy, how to control tension and release, how to work on both the micro and the macro levels. And all my years of organizing festivals taught me how to keep track of logistics, how to work with people, how to meet deadlines, how to raise money, etc. In hindsight, I was perfectly positioned to become a successful filmmaker.
- I’m stronger than I thought. This is fleshed out in the Wyoming sequence of the film when I ride into the Basin at 2:00 a.m. That was a special night, and a profound epiphany on my part. It’s a cliche in the adventure communities, but it’s real. I never thought I was particularly bright or talented, but the Sonic Divide taught me again and again that I’m much stronger than I ever realized. I was, I think, actually afraid of my talents and my powers for a long time. No longer. Now I realize I have a duty to keep doing big and risky things. The world needs this from me, and I can do it.