I started playing piano after a bad LSD trip in 2011. Always spontaneous compositions, no two alike, never recorded (until today).
When for months I was constantly imagining in horror the spiraling consequences of every act and non-act I took, piano was a sanctuary: it was something that was only for me. It never made it out past the boundaries of my room. It had relatively little danger of causing anyone harm. Unrecorded, it always felt new, even while everything else in my life seemed like a constantly repeating endless loop.
Now that I've basically recovered, I've kept the habit up, but I've still not recorded anything. It's moved from a defense mechanism to a sort of combination fire-under-my-ass and artistic statement: because of our copyright law and the structure of the music industry, so much beauty is lost, so many songs never recorded, perhaps never heard any more clearly than a distant echo in the background of one person's mind. My piano playing has been, for me, a reminder of that state of affairs: these improvisations, I think they're sometimes pretty beautiful, but I never get to keep any of them.
Except this one.
Aaron Swartz was a casualty of our collective stupidity. He spent his life fighting to make things more open for all of us so that we could live in a richer, more beautiful world. For this, we killed him.
As you listen to this song, I hope you reflect on the countless compositions that could have been, and I hope you ask yourself how you can help us get more of them out into the world—how you can support and sustain those people who first hear them in their inner ear, and those people (like Aaron) who give them the tools they need to share them with us.
This song is not for Aaron. He is beyond the need for music now, and his peace is greater than we can know. This song is for me, you, and all the rest of us still fighting. This song is especially for his brother Noah, who carries that same fire in his heart, and who will carry Aaron's legacy in ways we have yet to see.
Composition strategy: I sat in meditation until the feelings of terror left me. Then, I pushed "record", sat at the piano, and did my best to get out of the universe's way as it told its story through me. The song ends unresolved, because, well.
- Spontaneous Composition