Drew Schnurr

Drew Schnurr is a composer, sound artist, and performer from Los Angeles whose work blurs traditional lines in music, media, and sound.

As a composer for media, Drew has produced music and sonic branding for numerous world brands and media conglomerates. He is also an active concert composer and sound artist with a diverse range of international commissions and exhibits.

Revered by his peers, industry professionals, and critics, his work has been called both “rare” and “remarkable.”

“This composer bends and stretches rules within his own aesthetic, weaving his musical ideas in harmonious waves that threaten to drown, yet gently tumble the listener forward with intrigue and anticipation.” -Adam Rosenthal review for Persee: Orchestrated Perception



for Piano with Four Hands  [cat. sc26]


Hyperventilations of a Fire Dragon harnesses music from my early career as a performer in latin bands, jazz ensembles, funk bands, and rock and metal bands. The underlying fervency of these influences is felt throughout the work, leveraged by the power and agility of the piano, driving the performance often to the edge of playability. This piece initiates a compositional renaissance, a drilling down into the musical cores of “fire” that constitute the music of my youth. It comes from the gut—quite literally, was breathed into life. The melodic and rhythmic motives are all derived from vocal inflections (and hyperventilations) improvised, recorded, transcribed and re-composed by the composer.


Premiered by Vicki Ray and Aaron Kallay — Hear Now Festival, Los Angeles, May 2015.
Video performance by pianists Kookhee Hong and Minji Noh.


The horns are honking. They have been honking for 2 hours now.

It’s May 1st. I live on Main Street in downtown Los Angeles. There are thousands of people outside my front door marching, honking, and screaming. Today, millions across the country are protesting for the rights of immigrants in the USA. Los angeles has the largest latino population in the country. We have a latino mayor. It is a big day here.

I canceled class today for pragmatism (commuting today would be impossible), and to show respect for the protest. I empathize with their struggle. I find my self questioning why. I mean, it is all but obvious that there is a tremendous injustice and hypocrisy in the way we treat illegal immigrants. I am not talking about that. I mean that their struggle touches my heart in a way that is beyond merely understanding their position. I feel emotionally moved beyond sympathy into empathy. I question this connection.

Lately, I’ve been searching for a true notion of personal motivation. I find more and more that my own motivations are hidden from me. I suspect that this has always been so, that I’m only learning to recognize it. I’ve discovered that often when I’m seeking to be helpful I’m really seeking to feel better about my self; that when I’m being generous I’m really trying to heal pain caused by those who have acted selfishly towards me. The result is many good deeds don’t ring true because they are contaminated by their motivation.

I was at a reception last night following a modern dance concert in Hollywood. I met some interesting people. A group of us began talking about today’s protests. Interestingly enough, there was an assortment of ages and income levels represented. It was interesting to see how people’s view corresponded to their own position in life. Those who had a closer proximity to struggle in their own life were more sympathetic to the protest, and those who were beyond struggle were less interested in supporting the cause.

Do we really only care about what effects us individually? It is perhaps a simple minded question to ask, and a little pessimistic, but I think it bears asking time and again. I think people are good at heart, but I also think we loose track of ourselves. Selfishness begets selfishness, and we fall into the trap of feeling justified in self conquest. We stand up in righteousness, sympathetic to the cause of the oppressed, when in fact we often are the ones who are the oppressors.

The horns are still honking. The people are still yelling. Good for them.

Drew Schnurr


Spring is in the air…or so that’s what my friends and family out east tell me. One of the things I was glad to leave back home was late winter gloom. January and February in southern Michigan are nearly unbearable to me. Those months are laden with endless days of ambiguous weather – never cold, warm, sunny, rainy, or snowy; just cloudy and “blah.”

There is a nice thing about enduring “blah” for a period of time though – deliverance. My favorite seasons back home are the “in between” seasons. I do continue to miss the coloring of leaves in September, and the blossoming of flowers in April.

California is an amazingly beautiful state. The weather here is consistently spectacular. I love living here. However, there is a liability to living in paradise – loosing track of pleasure. In California the seasons come and go with little articulation, and so time goes floating on with the sunshine without ticking. The thing is when you always have sunshine, it can loose its gleam.

It’s a good reminder. Experiencing the “blah” and the “in between” every once and awhile is not such a bad thing. It does make the sun shine a little brighter.

Drew Schnurr


Last night was one of those unique “Downtown LA” evenings. Sometimes I feel like I live in a supercollider, where molecules of different types are smashed into one another in order to better understand their makeup. They were filming Spiderman 3 in front of my building last night. When I say “they,” I am referring to about 150 cast and crew members, along with four huge cranes, hundreds of “props,” and enough lights to illuminate a small planetery moon. This of course was occurring on Main Street, one block away from skid row where the homeless were bedding down in their cardboard shelters for the night. Many residents in my building were paid a monetary stipend for the inconvenience of the shoot. I wonder if anyone thought to pay the street dwellers for their inconvenience.

Anyway, the night brought with it the usual personal melancholy, and I needed to get around some people, so I decided to go out the front of my building and survey the happenings. Television/Film shoots of this size happen frequently in my neighborhood due to the unique architecture of the buildings. The shoots tend become neighborhood gatherings, as everyone comes out to see the “machine” in action. I confess I did not find much amusement from watching the film shoot (I’ll wait for the DVD.), but did appreciate seeing familiar faces from the neighborhood, many of whom I have known for three years now. There is comfort in community.

After waiting around on the street for about forty minutes to hear someone say “action,” and then seeing a guy wearing red spandex attached to two steel cables flung into a taxi cab, I decided to go to one of my new favorite spots in the neighborhood, the “Lost Souls Cafe” (http://lostsouls.com), located at the end of an alley off of fourth street.

The cafe has nice atmosphere, and potential to be a great meeting place for creative community. I am really into the mission of the cafe, and it has just the right kind of feeling. I’ve been looking for a new local venue to do low key improv performances, so maybe one of these nights I’ll bring my bass instead of my book…that is if the set police let me cross through the next film shoot.

Drew Schnurr


My Mother always used to tell me that the worst mistake I could make in my relationship with her was to lie. Car accidents, school suspensions, even altercations with the law could be forgiven, but lying could not. This has always stuck with me, and to this day it is difficult for me to lie, which is a liability in Los Angeles where success often depends on your ability to lie. (Thanks for that Mom.)

As an adult, I’ve learned that the truth has many shades, and it really does lie “in the eye of the beholder.” (Sorry Mom.) Truth is so often a choice, especially when it comes to understanding ourselves, and how we choose to view others. Truth is also highly subjective in our culture where “pragmatic truth” often overrides “correspondence truth,” as long as the “ends” are sweet enough to justify the “means.”

Sometimes I have a sense when someone is lying, either to me or themselves. I’m sure this sense sometimes stems from simple paranoia, but for the most part I’d say my “lie detecting” instincts are spot on 80-90% of the time. I think that I got this trait from my grandmother, who would never let you get away with even the smallest lie. I’ve often wondered, how could she do this? Do lies have a sound?

I’m doing research for a composition project involving recordings of people lying. There is a fascinating book by Eric Alterman (http://ericalterman.com) that talks about lies in world politics, and it’s impact on society. This book is very well referenced and written, and is acclaimed by many historical scholars. Some of the revelations are staggering, literally.

For example, the second chapter illustrates how The Cold War, given a fair assessment of the facts, was probably our fault. I always thought FDR to be a great President. Turns out he was also a liar. To be specific, he lied to Stallen, and to the American people. Near the end of WW2 there was an allied conference in the european city Yalta. During this conference FDR, Stallen, and Churchill laid out the allied plan and agreed terms for the end of WW2. During negotiations, Stallen demanded rein over Eastern Europe following the War. FDR knew that that American public would never support this, but he needed Russia to win the War. So, he lied. FDR agreed to give Stallen regin over Eastern Europe at the end of the war (lie), and then gave false testimony to the American people as to the terms of the Yalta agreement (lie). Do the math…a big mess ensued after WW2, which we now refer to as “The Cold War.”

I guess this is why Mom said it’s bad to lie. But let’s be pragmatic here. We all lie when we really have to. Don’t we? I mean, we all do it, so that makes it OK, right?

Drew Schnurr


I’ve prepared my first “deusonica” podcast. The purpose of the podcast is to explore the internet as a sort of concert hall. It is also for the sake and discipline of doing work on a regular basis, and making it public.


There is an interesting article in “Audio Culture” comparing the work of modern sound artists to the work of Stockhausen, the grandfather of electronic music composition. I had the rare opportunity to participate in a discussion about this article last night.

Casey Reas (web site), a professor of interactive technologies and digital visual arts at D|MA, invited me to come and talk to some of his graduate students about the work of Stockhausen. We listened to recordings both new and old, and discussed the variances in approach, and creative priorities. It was a rare conversation, the type which only can occur amongst those who are inspired by the nuanced motivation behind artistic genius.

I continue to be struck by how I am drawn to the designers way of thought. There exists a pioneer spirit and imagination that I often find lacking in the norm of other creative disciplines, including music. The graduate students participating in this discussion were able to immediately engage, understanding the ideas behind Stockhausen’s innovations with out any “formal” knowledge of music. It would seem there exists a unity of thought amongst those who believe in life as an exploration of personal creative potential.

Wole Soyinka said, “The creative tribe is a very special one.” It is during exchanges such as these in which I feel at home, amongst members of my people, my tribe.

Thank you Casey for the invitation.

Drew Schnurr


They say when it rains…

It is turning out to be a very busy and exciting fall season. I admit I have been a bit overwhelmed trying to keep up, while at the same time I am growing tired of hearing myself say how busy I am.

I presented a lecture to the UCLA D|MA department a few weeks ago. This was interesting for me. It required me to assess where I have been, where I am, and where I am going as an artist. It was timely in that these are questions I have been asking my self as of late. It seems the lecture was well received. The department has asked me to return next quarter to teach an additional sound class.

I was contracted by Apple Computer last weekend to teach some classes on Logic Pro, Apple’s pro-audio application. The classes were offered as a part of the “Remix Hotel” at the Musician’s Institute in Hollywood. It was great to meet all of the terrific people on the Apple team. Saturday night marked the first meeting of the Los Angeles Logic Pro Users Group organized by David Nahmani. David is the most knowledgable Logic user I have ever met, and he is doing terrific things for the Logic Pro Audio community in LosAngeles.

There are many things on the burners for me. I am looking to Winter to have time to start on some new projects including a DEUSoNICA pod cast, a new music ensemble, and some potential collaborations with media artists I am meeting at D|MA.

Drew Schnurr


I’ve been hired as a visiting instructor in the Design Media Arts department at UCLA. My appointment begins this week. I am teaching a class about the fundamentals of sound, recording, and production.

I desma 162 class syllabus I

I feel quite excited about the people I am meeting, and the work being done in the department. This is my first teaching opportunity at this level. I am curious to see how I perform in the environment.

Drew Schnurr


I had an interesting conversation with my brother a few days ago. Actually it is a conversation we have had several times. We talked about the need to communicate your desires; to share your ambitions with the world. This brings opportunity to yourself, and to others. It signals that you are ready to share. I haven’t been ready, not really, but I am getting closer.

This blog represents a step, a desire to share with others, selflessly. This is a hard thing to do for artists, because what we share in our art is at the core of who we are, and if our work is rejected, we often feel we are being personally rejected. I believe any artist that tells you otherwise is most likely lingering in a shroud of pride.

There is nothing more personal to me than writing music, and so I have to be deliberate in sharing it with others, otherwise my fear prevents me from doing so. I am practicing new ways of being more open….this blog is another step.

Drew Schnurr

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Friday, August 4th, 2017

Ascent of Weavers, a film by Rebeca Méndez with music by Drew Schnurr, featured at the 2019 Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival.

info @ latinofilm.org/ascent-of-weavers

trailer and credits @ rebecamendezstudio.com


Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

Judging films submitted for the 48 Hour Film Project in Dallas. Screenings on July 31 and August 1.


DREW@SCHNURR.COM 323.243.7653