Sophomore Emma Bucklan has a series of recordings on her phone – “Noodle Session 1,” “Noodle Session 2” and so on. At first she was just playing around and figuring out what sounded good together, but these sessions turned into a full-length self-produced solo piano album.
She put her album, “No Sand in the Hourglass,” up on Spotify and Apple Music through an online publisher Aug. 9.
Bucklan grew up playing classical piano, but soon tired of it. Her interest in the instrument was reinvigorated when she discovered contemporary solo piano music, which was easy to listen to and full of emotion. She particularly enjoyed the new age music of Jim Brickman and Greg Maroney.
“It doesn’t have to be the most complex thing in the world to be beautiful,” Bucklan said.
Sophomore Olina Zhu, Bucklan’s roommate, describes the album as sounding like the soundtrack of a war movie, though the album also features some peaceful songs.
Bucklan dedicated the album to Zhu and her grandmother, whom she says are her two biggest fans. Zhu listened to all of Bucklan’s songs and encouraged her to make the album.
“It was convenient to have a roommate who was interested in it and could hear all the nuances in it,” Bucklan said.
Many songs on the album come from Bucklan’s experiences freshman year: from hanging out with friends, or from getting a bad grade on a test.
“The idea of perspective and how that changes your outlook on life was really important to me,” Bucklan said.
Sophomore Brock Foreman remembers hanging out with Bucklan and other friends in a practice room so Bucklan could work on her music and still join in on the conversation.
On campus, Bucklan is a member of the group Devilish Keys, which markets itself as a “piano ensemble of multiple hands and multiple pianos.” The group takes songs and arranges them for multiple pianos. Last year, they put together a High School Musical medley. Bucklan credited the group’s focus on arranging songs with helping her own music.
When starting to write a song, Bucklan sits down at a piano with an emotion and goes from there. Sometimes, she will write out lyrics beforehand and compose music to accompany them. She takes the lyrics out before finishing the song, but the feelings conveyed through the lyrics stay.
“When you listen to the song, you can actually hear where the lyrics were,” she said.
Many of Bucklan’s songs feature contrasts: light and booming, fast and slow, dramatic and whimsical.
Sophomore Daniel Eggito describes Bucklan, his friend since last year, as an artistic person in general. In addition to music, she also works with film and Photoshop. She designed the cover art for the album herself.
Although Bucklan is planning to pursue a biology major and an arts of the moving Image certificate, she said she wants music to always be a part of her life.
“It’s always been very valuable to me,” she said.
Bucklan actually recorded the album on GarageBand with a keyboard plugged into her computer, not by playing on a full piano.
“If you have a computer and a keyboard, you can record at a great quality in your room,” Bucklan said.
Bucklan has plans for a future album and plenty of leftover material to use for it. She acknowledges that solo piano music is perhaps not what most people search for on Spotify, but has had a few hundred streams of her album so far.
“Solo piano music is rare to come by,” she said.
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