Curiosity is Currency: How Ernest Hood’s Neighborhoods (1975) Helps Inspire Lifelong Learning and Creative Exploration

Ernest Hood’s 1975 album Neighborhoods has long been considered one of the best early examples of ambient music, a genre that rewards both background listening and close attention.

Ernest Hood was a once Portland jazz guitarist and KBOO co-founder who lost his ability to play guitar after being struck by polio. But he didn’t let that stop him from creating beautiful music with a unique palette of zithers and early synths. In fact, Hood’s Neighborhoods album is a testament to the power of creativity and self-expression in the face of adversity.

Hood only pressed 1,000 copies of the record, but the album has had a lasting impact on the experimental music world. The album features long stretches of field recordings that Hood made around West Linn and other Portland suburbs. These recordings capture the mundane conversations and distant natural and animal noises of Portland’s past, offering a unique and fascinating glimpse into the city’s history.

As we know, curiosity is currency, and exploring new sounds is a great way to develop both curiosity and creativity. So why not give Ernest Hood’s Neighborhoods a listen and open yourself up to new sonic experiences? You never know where it might take you!

Ernest Hood’s music is known for its atmospheric and ethereal quality, characterised by the use of field recordings and unconventional instruments like zithers and early synthesizers. His music often features long, meandering melodies that create a dreamy, otherworldly atmosphere.

To create a score in the style of Ernest Hood, you might begin by incorporating field recordings into your music, such as the sounds of nature or ambient noise from everyday life. You could also experiment with unconventional instruments or electronic sounds to create a unique sonic palette.

In terms of melody and composition, you might try creating long, flowing lines that weave in and out of each other, creating a sense of continuity and fluidity. You could also experiment with layering different sounds and textures to create a dense, immersive sonic landscape.

Overall, the key to capturing the spirit of Ernest Hood’s music is to embrace experimentation and creativity, and to let your imagination guide you as you explore new sounds and sonic possibilities.

To make music on your iPhone in the style of Ernest Hood, you can use various music production apps that are available on the App Store. Here are some suggestions for apps you can use:

  1. GarageBand: This is an app developed by Apple that allows you to create music on your iPhone or iPad. GarageBand includes a range of virtual instruments and effects that you can use to create ambient and experimental music in the style of Ernest Hood.
  2. Korg Gadget 2: This is a comprehensive music production app that includes a range of virtual instruments, drum machines, and sequencers that you can use to create music on your iPhone. Korg Gadget 2 has a vintage-inspired interface that makes it easy to create lo-fi, experimental music in the style of Ernest Hood.
  3. iKaossilator: This app is designed for creating electronic music using the Korg Kaossilator, a portable synthesizer that allows you to create music by tapping and sliding your fingers on a touchpad. iKaossilator is a more affordable and portable option for creating music in the style of Ernest Hood.
  4. BeatMaker 3: This is a comprehensive music production app that allows you to create music using virtual instruments, samplers, and effects. BeatMaker 3 has a vintage-inspired interface and includes a range of features that are ideal for creating ambient and experimental music in the style of Ernest Hood.

When using these apps, look for virtual instruments and effects that can create the sounds and textures that are characteristic of Ernest Hood’s music, such as vintage synthesizers, tape delay, and reverb. Experiment with different sounds and effects to create your own unique sound, and don’t be afraid to be experimental and try new things.

To make field recordings on your iPhone in the style of Ernest Hood, you can use various apps that are available on the App Store. Here are some suggestions for apps you can use:

  1. Rode Rec: This app is designed for recording audio using Rode microphones, but it can also be used with the built-in microphone on your iPhone. Rode Rec has a range of features that are ideal for field recording, such as a stereo mode, high-quality audio recording, and the ability to adjust input levels.
  2. Hokusai Audio Editor: This is a comprehensive audio editing app that allows you to record, edit, and manipulate audio on your iPhone. Hokusai Audio Editor has a range of features that are ideal for field recording, such as the ability to adjust input levels, edit audio files, and apply effects like reverb and delay.
  3. Ferrite Recording Studio: This app is designed for recording and editing audio on your iPhone or iPad. Ferrite Recording Studio has a range of features that are ideal for field recording, such as the ability to adjust input levels, edit audio files, and apply effects like reverb and EQ.
  4. AudioShare: This app is designed for managing and sharing audio files on your iPhone or iPad. AudioShare allows you to record audio using your iPhone’s built-in microphone or an external microphone, and then edit and share your recordings with other apps.

Make sure to experiment with different microphone placement and recording techniques to capture the sounds of the environment around you. Look for sounds that are characteristic of Ernest Hood’s music, such as ambient background noise, natural reverb, and environmental sounds like birds or running water. You can also use effects like reverb and delay to enhance the natural sounds of your recordings and create a unique atmosphere in your music.

I would be really interested to know your thoughts on the music of Ernest Hood. Do you like it? Does it inspire you? Do you dislike it? Let me know what you think in the comments.

And remember, curiosity is your currency.

Have a nice day.

Further Reading:

Daniel Bromfield, The Late Ambient Music Pioneer Ernest Hood Goes “Back to the Woodlands”, Willamette Week, November 22, 2022

Marty Sartini Garner, ‘Before Brian Eno made Music For Airports, Ernest Hood made music for Neighborhoods’, AV Club, October 2019

In case you are even more curious …

Why not check out my best-selling VIRO series on Amazon. The books tell the story of Jake, a boy with special needs looking for his missing mother. Jake wakes one morning to find his life is broken. His mum has gone missing. The world has fallen apart. Determined to find her, Jake is forced to comes to terms with what has happened to the world. Confronted by the horror, he initially struggles to make sense of everything. Helped by the new friends he makes, Ellis, kind and resourceful, and the twins, Amber and Abe, Jake starts to develop his independence. Forced to confront the apparent difference defined by his special needs, Jake realises that this difference doesn’t matter any more. This gives him the strength to keep going. As they fight for survival, the four kids meet a wide range of other people also battling to stay alive and with each encounter Jake and his new friends learn a little bit more about themselves and each other. Ultimately, Jake’s story is one of hope and determination in the face of complete and utter devastation.

Here are some real-world reviews for the VIRO series:

‘This review is for the series. Capturing the voice of a young character with special needs (I spent 25 years as a special education teacher/administrator), Taylor’s story of a group of young people coping with a world disintegrating in front of them; with the loss of structure and trust, and with betrayal by the adults who should be protecting them is both uplifting and horrifying. Do not be fooled by the simple language of the narrator: there are hard questions asked and realistic, unsentimental consequences to the apocalypse confronting the children, and an ending that you are unlikely to forget easily.’

‘Barnaby Taylor has a daring and rich imagination that transports you to new adventures in a re-imagined world, that are vividly written with a fresh and vibrant use of language. […] Barnaby can really write an action packed scene with fear inspiring characters such as the Tall Man. Baxter the dog who accompanies the children gives the story the delightful twist of feeling like an apocalyptic Famous Five. Genius.’

‘The writing style is beautifully compelling, and after the first couple of pages I couldn’t put it down. The author very skilfully creates a world and characters through deceptively simple prose that draws the reader right in. It is a fascinating blend of one-after-the-other edge-of-the seat scares, alongside a haunting narrative about what it is to be human.’

‘Barnaby is an exciting and passionate writer. There’s real depth of meaning behind his books. You emotionally engage with and care about the book’s characters. Barnaby’s books also have a strong visual sensibility. His stories particularly Viros I and II would translate superbly to television and cinema. I am a huge fan of all things zombie orientated and to see the zombie genre reinterpreted from the perspective of children is thrilling. I look forward to more books from Barnaby. He’s one to watch out for. Children, adults and I suspect the film and TV industry people will love this book. I highly recommend it.’

‘I absolutely loved this book. Powerful and poignant, ‘Viro’ packs a punch. Sad and haunting, ‘Viro’ is a new take on the zombie genre. The characters are dynamic and interesting, finding strength despite their horrifying circumstances. Jake is a character that will stick with you long after the final page. The action sequences are thrilling. I was on the edge of my seat!’

Dear Curious Friends,

It can sometimes be difficult to find the support and encouragement we need to keep going. That’s why it’s so important to connect with others who share our passion and can offer valuable feedback and advice. Leaving a comment is a great way to start a conversation and connect with others who are on a similar journey.

By sharing our experiences, challenges, and successes, we can learn from each other and grow. We can offer encouragement and support when someone is struggling, and celebrate each other’s achievements when they reach a milestone.

Furthermore, starting a conversation can help to hold us accountable to our goals. When we share our progress with others, we are more likely to stay committed and make meaningful progress.

Finally, leaving a comment and starting a conversation is an excellent way to build community and find the support and encouragement we need to keep creating. So why not take a moment to share your thoughts and connect with other creatives today?

Also, as a thank you for reading this post I have created two free books for you to download. How to Journal is a handy guide to journaling and I hope it helps you get started. How to Unlock your Curiosity is a brief guide to enhancing your creativity by simply being curious. Both books are available for free at the top of the page.

Good luck!


As positive things keep happening it is always important to be alive to the opportunities presented by the wonderful spread of digital content and the potential found in using technology to share good news and provide opportunities for engagement.


Hi Everyone
Here is the second in a series of WordPress blog posts reflecting research I have recently been conducting. These are very much my own reflections and at the moment we are moving forward with them.
Along the way we can see that pronouns are warping, merging, metamorphosing, and transforming. As positive things keep happening it is always important to be alive to the opportunities presented by the wonderful spread of digital content and the potential found in using technology to share good news and provide opportunities for engagement.
It is always a pleasure to keep using technology and apps and other ways of getting the message out there to everyone.
Nowadays it is more than simply sharing links, however positive that may be for everyone.

The Calm Before the Digital Storm: The Ordinariness of My Life


Hi Everyone

How are you today?

I’m feeling calm this morning.

Calmer than I have in a while.

I have a full day’s teaching and preparation.

This the ordinariness of my life.

And I’m not complaining.

One of the greatest pleasures in my life is the opportunity to stand in front of a class and get carried away talking about something I love.

To do this every day is a real privilege.

Especially considering that my major topics of classroom conversation are all film-related.

What’s not to like about being paid to talk about films all day?

And think about films?

And collaborate in their making?

And make them yourself?


But if this wasn’t already enough I then have the chance to go home and keep working on the imminent release of the first two novels in the VIRO series.

I am at the final editing stage.

I’m nearly there.

I’m also playing with cover designs.

What do you think?


VIRO test cover 2 JAN 2018

It just gets better and better.

I hope your day goes really well.

Let me know what you are up to.

I can’t wait to hear from you.


The Digital Divide: The Fun of Formatting


Hi Everyone.


I spent three years writing a doctoral dissertation and used to love the hours I spent fussing over commas and colons. I could while away a whole afternoon formatting a single footnote and then be satisfied that this was all I had done for the day.

I worked in an enormous university library somewhere in the south east of England – it was the size of a decent shopping centre  – and had a small perch/nest (room) overlooking a large reading room. With the exception of the occasional undergraduate who was happier talking than actually reading, the sense of silence was awe-inspiring.

I treated my doctorate like a job and wrote between 9 and 12 everyday Monday to Friday. Then I would stop for lunch.

After lunch I would return to my perch and not write.

I would do anything else I felt was necessary dissertation-wise, but I avoided writing anything new.

Once I left the library for the day it was as if my doctorate didn’t exist. I was lucky to be able to forget all about it and not lay awake at night worrying whether I would finish it or not.

The next morning I would be on the bus at 8am and spend the hour it took to get to my perch reading two newspapers.

I didn’t always feel like writing but I did always feel like sitting in my perch.

I’m no longer sitting in that library but I do still eat my lunch at 12 Monday to Friday.

I hope you have a productive day whatever you are doing.


P.S. How do you work?


The Digital Distance: To Print or Not to Print?


Happy New Year Everyone

It is that wonderful time of year when all things are reset and everything begins back at the beginning.

Or does it?

The Viro project is still up and running and perhaps it is due to my years of academic training but I still need to have something printed before I can truly get to grips with it.

Like everyone else, words accumulate on-screen on a daily basis and whilst I know that they are there in front of me it also feels like they are somehow far away.

I can keep adding words (and I do keep adding words) – one of the many values of completing a PhD is the daily discipline it forces you to adhere to –  but the profoundly intimate relationship I have developed with every single one of my millions of words is also simultaneously extremely impersonal.

This is not to say that they are not my words. They most certainly are – each and every one. Perhaps I am simply acknowledging the digital distance that can now exist between oneself and one’s work.

Nor do I yearn for anything older or more intensive.

I love writing by hand but couldn’t contemplate accumulating as many words as I have managed to do over the years if I had to keep turning a page.

I save the pleasure of handwriting for cards, letters and the occasional note to school.

All of this is a long-winded way of saying that I have printed a draft of Book One in the Viro series and am now copy-editing it.

I’m not going to lie; this is not my favourite part of the whole process but it does mean that I get to use my favourite pen.

Have a great day everyone.

Story16 – Time Lapse

Hi Everyone

Here is a short time lapse piece produced during an event I recently took part in called Story16 – The Art of Digital Storytelling. The video is courtesy of the very talented Ammar Saleh who work can be found on his YouTube channel here.

Story16 saw a panel of experts interact with a live audience to discuss online gaming, YouTube, podcasting, virtual communities and other aspects of digital storytelling. Following these discussions, the panel and audience came together to invent the story for a brand new game.

The event took place at Filmbase in Temple Bar on Wednesday the 10th of February 2016.

The panel was made up of the audiovisual research collective voicesonfilm, YouTube gamer and community builder Games4Kickz, and podcasters StoryBreakers.

We are currently awaiting more audiovisual content from Story16 and I will add more posts as it arrives. In the meantime sit back and enjoy the time lapse …


Bara Cailín Ident test

Hi Everyone

Here’s a test ident for Bara Cailín. I am trying to capture that particularly unsettling feeling that I always associate with British science fiction, supernatural and horror television shows from the 1970s – in particular, Roger Price’s The Tomorrow People (1973-1979); Children of the Stones (Peter Graham Scott, 1977); and Nigel Kneale’s wonderful Quatermass IV (1979).

two16 (rebel|robot|mcs 2015)

Following on from yesterday’s post I thought you would all like to see another film in the new series created by the rebel|robot|mcs (note the new spelling). This is the video to accompany their second track in the SIXTEEN series two16 inspired, once again, by the sounds made by analogue film paraphernalia. This particular film really gets to the heart of the project and I think promises much more to come.

Rebel Robot MCs can now be found on Vimeo

Hi Everyone
I am delighted to announce that the Rebel Robot MCs can now be found on Vimeo and will be posting videos to accompany their series of tracks inspired by the sounds made by analogue film paraphernalia. Take a look, follow them and if you like what you see share as well. As they write on their profile:

Join us on a journey and we’ll take you with us wherever we go.