November 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

Trent Reznor On Songwriting

Reznor says songwriting has always been a “back and forth struggle.” Up to the time of The Downward Spiral, he says he would usually sit in front of a computer and get some kind of feel happening, whether it’s a drum groove, bass line, or just some ambiance. “At the same time, but not purposefully together, I’d be working on lyrical ideas and formulating different emotions I wanted to convey, and then later I’d put some of these musical bits together and see what fit. At that time they both would mutate into a new thing that would start to become a song.”

“My little work area had become the studio, and it was a great luxury when I could envision a song in my head and I could look at the rack of stuff and say ‘OK I think it’s this piece’ and it’s already wired up,” he says. “So writing and arranging almost became the same thing, but the problem there I think is that sometimes songwriting suffers because you’re more into the window dressing than the actual structure of what you’re dressing up. So what (co-producer) Alan Moulder and I have done, especially on The Fragile, is to make every aspect of the production as important as the songwriting, because the songs were more moods than say Beatle-esque, well-constructed pop songs. And that was a conscious thing.”

“When I’m working on a Nine Inch Nails project I always like to have a producer with me to provide me with objectivity,” he says. “Because it is difficult when you’re struggling in your bedroom over lyrical ideas and you’ve got these demo bits of music you’ve thrown together and then you try to kick into an interesting way to record and arrange this thing. And then try to objectively look at it from another level and say is this a piece of shit or is this good? Does it say anything?

“In the case of The Fragile, it was a two-year marathon of 50-some songs to look at. In each one you had your ‘I love this one because it reminds me of something great that happened at that time’ and ‘I hate this one because I fought with this guitar solo for two weeks.’ Things that no one else would get from it. It’s tough at that point to be objective.”

At times Reznor says he almost has to become different people depending on the task at hand. He’ll become the programmer and look at songs from that angle, then he’ll look at things from an arranger’s perspective, then examine the lyrics he’s developed with a critical eye.

“I found with The Fragile, because it took so long, that there were times when we just went off on tangents that were unnecessary. And I think it was because we were afraid of addressing the bigger issue which was ‘is this any good or not?’ At some point I have to treat my head like it’s a few different people in there and wear a different hat.”



Our Daily Bread

November 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

The Social Network

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David Lynch

November 30, 2010 § Leave a comment


“I’ve always loved sounds and so I built a studio where I can experiment with sound, and gradually I started experimenting with music. I’m not a musician, but I love to experiment and try to make music.”

“I was just sitting and these notes came and then I went down and started working with Dean [Hurley, his engineer] and then these few notes, ‘I want to have a good day, today’ came and the song was built around that”

Lynch’s last film, Inland Empire, was made without a script, with actors handed new dialogue each day. Lynch described using a similar method for his music. “It’s intuitive. Intuition is the number one tool. You act and react, you see and hear, you use that thing of intuition to go to the next step … it kind of goes like that.”


November 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

Volker Bertelmann’s work is based upon an exploration of the possibilities of the prepared piano – a playfully disruptive intervention into the preconceived idea of the piano as a pure-toned, perfected instrument


“They create a whole carpet of sounds underneath the tones that the hammers create. What I like about it is that there is something going on without my control.”

Benjamin Zander

November 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

Benjamin Zander has conducted the BPO for 20+ years. He urges people to think positively and be open to possibilities. He argues that we spend too much time and energy being weighed down by negative thinking in downward spirals.

“Cynical persons are actually passionate people who don’t want to be disappointed.”

The secret, he says, is to try to live in possibility, and not to take yourself too seriously.

@ Davos 2009

@ TED 2008

@ Pop!Tech 2008


@ w/Rosamund Zander

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”

— Martha Graham

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