Stages of Sonder

by R. Aaron Walters

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    After you've downloaded Stages of Sonder, BEFORE you listen, please check out the "READ THIS PLEASE!" document (a PDF that comes with your download) :)
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See pages 161-165 in the accompanying document!


Stages of Sonder

• "Meager Eyes" - (Movement 1)
• "Just Another" - (Movement 2)
• "Past the Null" - (Movement 3)
• "Obstructed" - (Movement 4)
• "Focal Point " - (Movement 5)

Original Artwork is an excerpt I have selected from page 19 of the book, etceteras, by distinguished artist Marilyn R. Rosenberg also know as my Bubbe (grandmother).


A note to you (also included in *READ THIS PLEASE!.pdf* document):

Hello interested listener and reader,

This recording (and paper) is one of my largest scale personal artistic and academic achievements to date. Every instrument in Stages of Sonder was performed by myself (with exception of the cello lead in movement 2 & and cello doubling in movement 3, both played by Maggie Chafee). All lyrics were written and music was composed, recorded, edited, and mixed by myself between August 2016 and April 2017 with some continued mixing through July 2018 in my studio in Nashville, Tennessee. Although there are five clearly defined movements in Stages of Sonder, the entire 28-minute piece is intended to be listened to in one sitting maybe as you would a symphony. It is in essence, somewhat of a “concept album” or one that is tied together by a unifying narrative theme. In this case our narrative deals with the concept of “sonder,” a word defined by John Koenig as follows:

n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

I explore this concept through a first-person narrated experience of “sonder” related to the phenomenon, The Five Stages of Grief (Denial, Depression, Anger, Bargaining, and Acceptance).

Academically, Stages of Sonder was made as an accompaniment to my overall culminating thesis document entitled, Creating Salience: Stages of Sonder I wrote for my Masters in Music degree in Commercial Music Composition and Arranging that I received from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.

In my paper, essentially, I decided to take music theorist Brad Osborn’s theoretical and observational discussion of “salience” looking at a composed piece of music and redirect it through a more proactive compositional lens before a piece is created. For sake of a brief synopsis, I'll just quickly clarify this central word to my thesis paper. “Salience” in music can describe the phenomenon that occurs when any musical moment sits in the exact middle point of expectation and deception. It has psychologically been proven that listeners generate the most meaning from music when experiencing “salience.” For creators of music, identifying, recognizing, discovering, analyzing, and understanding this middle ground (i.e. “salience”), can provide powerful and useful knowledge in the attempt to compose music that generates meaning.

Please, if you have any thoughts, reactions, ideas, points, counters, etc., reach out to me! I would love to have a conversation with you (over coffee, FaceTime, phone, anything!) about where you find and/or how you create “salience” in music and even in other artistic mediums. This subject matter is about perception, opinion, reaction, along with so much more. It is about critical thinking and associated meta-cognition.
Happy listening. I hope you enjoy.

Warm Regards,


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Check out the *READ THIS PLEASE!.pdf* document when you download for more details!

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released March 20, 2019

Composed, recorded, edited & mixed (at 44.1K, 24-bit)
by R. Aaron Walters between August 2016 and April 2017
with additional mixing through July 2018
all in my studio in Nashville, Tennessee.

Mastered by Patrick MacDougall at SubCat Studios LLC in Syracuse, NY.
Album Art by Marilyn R. Rosenberg (my grandmother i.e. Bubbe).

Thank you to my friends and talented engineers Eric Brown and Gabe Millman for mixing advice on this record.


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R. Aaron Walters Nashville, Tennessee

I am a Nashville based musician for dance, composer, producer/engineer, and multi-instrumentalist. My compositions have been sold around the world. Being on faculty for the Dept. of Dance at SUNY Brockport, I got to work with dancers including a former member of Trisha Brown's company and the world-renown David Dorfman. Scoring to movement and emotion is my passion; on screen or on stage. ... more

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