The Year of Musical Thinking, A Minute At A Time

David Morneau

hide captionDavid Morneau's miniature compositions include ambient tracks, found sound, instrumental performances, and plenty of loop and sample-based pieces.

Courtesy of David Morneau

Today, composer David Morneau finishes off an ambitious yearlong musical project. And to celebrate, he's doing the same thing he did every day for the past year.

Morneau, a doctoral candidate in composition at The Ohio State University, has been writing (and posting online) one 60-second piece of music daily during the past 12 months. He tells Robert Siegel that he started what he calls 60x365 to force himself to be creative.

"I kind of hit a creative block with a couple other projects I was working on at the time," he says, "so I was looking for a way to try some new things, and also for a way to sort of develop a little more discipline in my composing life."

Morneau's 60-second compositions took all different forms. On "String Cheese," he took the sampled strings from Apple's GarageBand software program, and mixed that sound with the oft-sampled drum solo known as the Amen break.

"Some of them are just about making one sound last for a full minute, and seeing what that feels like and what that sounds like," he says. "And then some of the other ones are really more about finding a way to build a miniature structure within the one minute."

Not all the compositions are what everybody would think of as "music" either. On "Glassbreak," he took the sound of breaking glass to fashion what he called "old-school musique concrete."

"And I'm happy if people want to think of some things like that as sound art," he says. "I used to be more concerned about that question, but now — you know, I like to work with all kinds of sounds, in sort of all different ways. And I, of course, think of it all as music, but I know that that's kind of a hurdle for some people, and calling it sound art or some other term is fine."

Occasionally, Morneau says, he was able to work ahead — he says he has been able to complete three in one day. Other times, it was a struggle to have the time to compose even 60 seconds' worth of music with all of life's distractions.

"Yeah, I was very excited about getting a jump, and then thinking that I would be able to stay ahead," he says. "But three days later, I was back to not having anything prepared."

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