New Music: “score for nowhere”

I hadn’t planned on making anything at all, least of all anything for consumption. But the pandemic dislodged something within me, like it’s done for so many – albeit, some people didn’t channel the internal rearrangement so constructively, let’s say. I digress. I took an open-ended break from writing for a number of months – not intentionally at first, but when you ignore something for long enough, you’ve got to be doing it deliberately. I wasn’t done writing, but my creativity pulled me back toward music in the latter bit of 2021 – hence, the dislodging. To be fair, “pulled back” is strong. I just started buying more pedals, a weird experimental synth, and a few more guitars. What ended up happening was that after I received the aforementioned synth in the mail, an Arturia Microfreak, I plugged it into a bunch of effects and just started recording free form, layering sounds upon sounds, making digital chaos. It was, like all recordings I make, completely improvised. That 10-minute chunk of music felt like a part of a greater whole, a bigger piece of music I needed to at least complete – though I had no real idea, only a key: c minor. That’s what this is – a 30-minute continuous piece of music, the soundtrack of a movie no one has seen, a place no one has been – a score for nowhere. 

The piece being improvised, it’s difficult to say there’s a concept for it. There are musicians who’ll wax poetic about the genesis of their ideas, their divine inspiration or whatever else they say to dress up the messy act of creating. I’m not so precious about anything I make. To a fault, I’m pretty hands-off about recording and editing, never fixing anything – coming from a recording environment in an old band of repeated takes, my propensity toward playing things only one time took centerstage when I began recording the score for nowhere – a title I arrived at only moments ago. But I still didn’t have a lofty concept, some greater goal of evoking some feeling in anyone else. Nope, I wanted to pursue whatever music came out of me to its logical end – that’s it. Keep it all in the same key, use the same instruments, never record a second take, and record all pieces within a short span of time.

And so, on a cold mid-November weekend I recorded what would become the middle section of the greater piece. The following weekend, I recorded what would become the end piece. And lastly, I recorded what would become the beginning of the whole piece. Why out of order? Well, there wasn’t an order at the time. But after recording the first piece with no drums whatsoever, the next piece definitely needed to groove – hence the sludgy drum beat throughout the last 10-minutes of the piece. So then, I had two related pieces – similar chords, melodies, and sounds. But something needed to move, and fast – chaos from note one. So, I recorded the introductory chunk last. It was only later that I stumbled upon what became the arrangement of the whole piece.

I had recording everything with my custom Fender Telecaster, my Gretsch baritone, Fender P-Bass, and the aforementioned Microfreak synthesizer. But just before Christmas, I got the guitar-buying itch again. I bought a big hollow body Gretsch guitar and recorded over the entire 30-minute piece in one long take. I barely mixed it, just made sure you could hear everything you were supposed to hear – then done. 

Music is visceral, but ultimately ephemeral. The first thing you play or record is usually the most interesting, and that’s what I’m after exclusively when I play and record for myself.

But why are you reading this? It’s because as I worked on the score for nowhere, it seemed like something I wanted to release – not for money, though. I just wanted to put this out there. If you have the patience to get through an emotionally taxing 30-minute chunk of music, I think you’ll enjoy it. It’s one of the more visceral expressions I’ve been able to make – go figure, it has no words. Writer my ass.

— Christopher Goodlof, January ‘22

Published by Christopher Goodlof

Writer, Visual Artist, Musician

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