Brian Baxter

Musical Philosophy:

I am a Chicago-based composer and drummer.  I write music that is vigorous and direct.  I am particularly interested in capturing motion in my sound by emphasizing interlocking rhythms and transmuting textures. These rhythms and textures are pinned together structurally by number sequences.

My compositions are strongly influenced by my personal experiences of places and environments.  Thus, much of the inspiration for my music comes from my personal experiences of Chicago as the place where I live and work. I feel so firmly planted in the sound world around me that it seems inevitable, and almost self-evident, that the rhythms and textures of my daily life are interpolated into my music.

Music is organized sound, and I strive to organize sound to share with others.  As the great American composer Charles Ives once stated, “You cannot set an art off in the corner and hope for it to have vitality, reality, and substance.”  My music is by and large abstract, and therefore,  can have different meanings to each listener. My objective is to make a musical statement that is compelling, clear and leaves room for the listener’s imagination.

Musical Upbringing:

I do not come from a musical family so throughout my childhood being a musician was a unique characteristic and eventually a defining one of my identity.   Before I called myself a composer I was a pianist and a percussionist/drummer (arguably I still am both).  I found support for my amateur compositional activities from my childhood piano teacher when I would write my own miniature piano pieces as well as from my high school band directors when arranging music for our marching band drumline or in our music theory class.  Arguably some of my more creative work before college was as a musical collaborator and songwriter in my high school rock band.  Still, I did not seriously consider a career in music composition until my freshman year of undergraduate study.  I entered school as a double major in Music and Business Administration.  During a preliminary session with my advisor before the start of the semester however we were deciding how to fill out my class schedule.  My advisor suggested perhaps “Intro to Composition” would be a good class for me to take and I said, “Sure, I am interested in composition.”  This class flipped the switch from interest in to a passion for composing music. Not only did Dr. David Vayo, who ended up becoming one of my most influential teachers, teach it but also it opened the world of sonic possibilities in composition that as yet I had not been fully aware.  By the end of my freshman year I had switched my major to Music Composition with a minor in Business Administration and I never looked back.

Non-musical Interests:

I originally hail from the Illinois town of Geneva situated on the banks of the Fox River just fifty-five miles west of downtown Chicago.  My family’s roots however lie in the beautiful New England state of Vermont where I find much inspiration.  When I am not composing, performing, or producing music, I spend my time reading, traveling, playing 16″ softball, cheering on my favorite sports teams, and enjoying good company.  I also dabble in a bit of spoken word art.

Upcoming Projects:

I am currently working on ‘Book of Drum’, my premiere full-length album featuring a tight-knit collection of tracks exploring the diverse sounds and rhythms of the drum set through the lens of my life in Chicago.

ACM commissioned Brian in 2015 for the Sound of Silent Film Festival.