Duncan Neilson creates music exploring wonder and our relationship with the natural world. He writes for film, installations, and commercial projects as Good Question Studio. His concert music has been performed in venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to the Knitting Factory NYC to the Vans Warped Tour, and he has taught at Columbia University, the College of William and Mary, and Lewis and Clark College.
To awaken wonder and inspire possibility in the world. That’s what drives me.
I grew up in Portland, Oregon, but my story along this particular path really began in Berlin, where I lived when the Wall was coming down. Hammers fell on both sides of the Wall and people stepped through the brand new holes. Armed guards did not fire. There was music everywhere and an air of extraordinary possibility. That experience of people coming together became a template for my thinking. A monument of fear and ignorance destroyed by hammers; music and dancing in the streets.
I was already used to tiny hammers of a kind in my world—piano hammers hitting strings. Piano hammers make beautiful music, and at the time I practiced piano six hours a day. But Berlin broke open my world and shifted my reality into an exploration process that continues to this day. That process plays out in the composition of music but it boils down to this: I’m curious when we live in wonder with the world, and when we do not.
We live in a dazzling, beautiful world if we allow ourselves to experience it. However, there are walls of perception that hide our better qualities from each other. Music has the power to shed light on the cultural and technological walls which shield us from a phenomenal source of wonder, our fellow creatures, and our planet. Where our society builds a wall, music finds a door.
My latest projects were born searching for music and stories with roots deep enough to address the climate crisis. I wondered how we could have walled ourselves off from the natural world in culture and behavior, and now our ignorance of our impact on the planet is returning in the form of superstorms, wildfires, plastic in the oceans. I think these times are dire. But still, I know that music can speak to this because music can change the story.
So here’s to changing the story.
There’s been a reawakening in my world from biomusic and understanding that we are not the only one’s making music on this planet. We are not the only intelligence. Let’s get going with protecting and regenerating this beautiful world.
About Good Question Studio
Good Question Studio seeks and produces commercial work for film, commercials, installations, and various media. Duncan Neilson is the primary composer and Drew Canulette is the primary audio engineer. We co-create these projects, each having input on every aspect of a project.
Look around. Everything we see in our world is designed. Creatives and artists have a voice in what kinds of products and designs we bring into our world. Good Question aims to assist those who are making a more sustainable, equitable, and even regenerative world for all.