Through a Musical Lens: Derek Hunter Wilson

Derek Hunter Wilson is a multi-instrumentalist and composer based in Portland, Oregon who has worked in recent years primarily in the realms of ambient and modern classical music. Improvisation is an important part of Wilson’s musical practice, serving as a way of “being in the present moment and practicing emotional honesty”. This side of his work is abundantly on display in a sweeping new video album that combines three and a half hours of solo piano improvisations with footage of a stunning winter rail journey from California to Oregon.

The music in the video is a collection of pieces Wilson performed during the past year as an “audio diary of sorts”. While this is not an uncommon practice for artists in this space, the typical approach would be to curate and edit the recordings into album form. Instead, he has created a different kind of listening experience that has its own unique rewards.

While the option to pick ten tracks from the recordings and call it an “album” was certainly there, I wanted to try and do something different and more interesting. I don’t expect viewers/listeners to sit and watch the whole thing in one sitting. Instead, I’ve intended it to be a sort of “ambient” experience in the sense that one can start at any point in the video and watch and listen for however long they want and then come back and watch a different section at a different time.

Derek Hunter Wilson

Filmed from a rear-facing vantage point, the film provides an unobstructed, panoramic view of everything from fog shrouded still life scenes to sprawling mountain vistas, passages through snow-laden pines, and blazing orange sunsets. All the while, the nomadic peregrinations of Wilson’s piano serve as the unobtrusive narrative voice. The beauty of it is that you, the itinerant listener, can hop on or off anywhere along the way.

And now it’s time to sit back and enjoy the journey. Hint: you may want to click on the “full screen” option in the lower right corner of the video player for the best experience.

For more about Derek and his music, including releases, interviews, social media, etc., links are available at