How Music Saved Me from the Behavioral Anhedonia of the 2020 Pandemic

behavioral anhedonia - image of a man surrounded by snowy trees and in background is a fire

Discovered a new word the other day: behavioral anhedonia.

“When people are under a long period of chronic, unpredictable stress, they develop behavioral anhedonia” — a reduced ability to take pleasure in activities — Margaret Wehrenberg, an expert on anxiety, said in this NY Times article. “And so they get lethargic, and they show a lack of interest — and obviously that plays a huge role in productivity.”

It’s a very real situation that the prolonged lockdowns and the attendant isolation have created. And the article is worth a read.

The point is: malaise, burnout, depression, and stress are very real and you must be aware of them so you can avoid them.

My Own 2020 Forced Me Back Into Music

I’m sure every artist has their own complicated story of coping with the chaos of 2020. The simplest solution for me — in fact, the only real way I found order amidst the mess of the pandemic — was to sit down and create music that I could control 100%.

You could say the pandemic forced me back into the hobby that has given me so much joy in the past. And one which I was seriously thinking of moving away from for a bit. Turns out, I just needed a break as well as an opportunity.

What happened was: the choir I had been active with so many years ago contacted me and basically said “Hey, since we’re all under lockdown, want to help us re-arrange this Christmas song?” Of course I said yes. And diving into my music software once again, this time with an actual project to complete, reignited the music production fire.

Here’s the final product that I arranged and did sound editing for:

One Tune Led to Another, and Suddenly: 3 Albums

For much of the last 6 months, I have been sitting down after work, after dinner, and after chores, to bang out ideas on my keyboard. Sometimes till 2 or 3 AM, sometimes sneaking in music time during my lunch break from my work-from-home routine.

By focusing on one thing in front of me at a time– that chord progression, or that stray note in the arrangement, or the lack of energy in that robotic beat — I could take my attention away from the virus ravaging the land. And I could create something tangible and beautiful, and stop feeling sorry for myself and the world.

Like many others in the same boat, making music saved me from going mad.

The end result has been a massive amount of new tunes. At present, I have enough for 3 albums, which I intend to release slowly into the world a month at a time.

Most of these new tunes I birthed without a real plan. I would start a new composition and build it up track by track until it feels finished. And for the most part, I’ve been able to hew closely to a genre that has only grown in importance for me ever since I embraced my inner 80s kid: synthwave.

Behold: Omnia In Omnibus

On April 2nd, 2021, I released my latest work, Omnia in Omnibus, it’s 6 tracks of synthwave and downtempo ethnotronica, and I would be delighted if you listened to it. It’s available over on my Bandcamp page. Click on the player below to play it or to head over there.

For a more detailed explanation on the album, check out the release page.

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