About Jewel: Electric Earth Music and sound design

Although educated in music, I’ve spent most of my life in psychology, first as a counselor for the seriously mentally ill and then teaching brain anatomy and neurology.  I am surrounded by the Wind River Indian Reservation, and am retired, old and arthritic.  However my consuming passions in life remain roaming the wilderness areas with my pack goats and composing music from natural sounds.  I am nonbinary, which has given me the gift of perceiving the world in an unusual and humorous manner.

All my music is made from sounds that are around me which I have recorded--coyotes, irrigation pipes, birds, donkeys....  I try to explore the many different ways that a sound can be heard through various sampling tools and effects.  I'm beginning to find that once I do that, I tend to return to the original animal or object with a completely new understanding of its nature.  I've discovered that in making music I better appreciate the world in which I live.   

To fully appreciate my music, I suggest you listen to just one piece a week, or if you're younger, maybe just one piece a month...or if you're really young and healthy, just one piece every couple of years.   I want each piece to be a surprise, and for you not to get used to the sound.  This isn't music you can whistle, my brother once commented.  It's not something you can dance to, nor send you into a meditative state.  On the spectrum of Mahler's repetitive development to Webern's brevity, I tend to be in Webern's camp.  On the spectrum of Bach's great harmonic wonder to Varese's grand wash of colors, I tend to veer towards Varese.  I like to think of Nabokov writing about chess problems from his book , Poems and Problems:  "Problems are the poetry of chess.  They demand from the composer the same virtues that characterize all worthwhile art:  originality, invention, harmony, conciseness, complexity, and splendid insincerity."

To compose a piece, I record a single sound of something that's special in my world--say, a donkey bray or clunk of the grain bin lid.  I then explore that sound by focusing on single aspects, or "colors," at a time, such as a particular curl in the sound (think of the beginning of a bird call), or maybe a section of the frequencies that are unusual (think of the combination of frequencies which make up the rich call of a sheep).  I add effects in order to exaggerate or enhance those quirky parts of each color I've isolated.  Exploring the original sound in this way will give me several varieties of little colors to use as a palette--sometimes as many as 30 to 50 different little sounds all from that one original recording.  I can then assign these different colors to a keyboard, which allows me to move them around easily at different pitches and to put them in different rhythms or time frames.  

In this way I explore that one original sound to its limits, and present it to you as a gentle explosion of my understanding of that original sound.    Hm, I am reminded of the great Hadron Collider--trying to find all the tiny different aspects which make up what we normally perceive as a whole unit.

The titles of the pieces come last.  As a composer I'm focusing on the construction and combination of the sounds and not thinking programmatically about the sound or its source.  But giving the listener something to hang their emotional hat on is always a nice gesture of good will, don't you think?


"Featured Music" is on the front page.  For a full list, click on "Music" at the top.  Feel free to download any of it.  ("Steal This Book" advised Abbie....)  

jewel@jeweldirks.com to contact me.

Instagram @steinwaygoat; for more fun vids and pix of the animals.

Youtube steinwaygoat for vids of the pack goats and donkeys in action.

Professor Emeritus Blurb

Music Resume

Psychology Resume