December 11, 2023

Sound and substance

A Grammy-nominated artist, Tom Eaton ’89 creates “sonic landscapes”

As a kid from rural New Hampshire, Tom Eaton ’89 was intimidated when he first set foot on the Andover campus. “It was this global community of high-performing individuals. I thought, ‘What am I doing here?’”

Eaton began to uncover the answer to that question in an unlikely place—the basement of Graves Hall. More than three decades later, Eaton, now a Grammy-nominated artist, reflects on the importance of those formative years.

It wasn’t until he was an upper that Eaton wandered into a music practice room and began playing the piano. Although he had taken music lessons when younger, this encounter was different. “I was starting to figure out my relationship with the piano on my own terms,” he says.

After taking an electronic music class with instructor Vincent Monaco, Eaton’s relationship with music deepened. “I started to understand the physics of it, how to make sounds and wrangle sounds together into something that approximated coherent music.”

In 1993, Eaton opened a recording studio, serving as mastering engineer and producer. A few years later, in 2009, his musical journey took another turn when Eaton began working with Will Ackerman, one of the founders of Windham Hill Records, an influential instrumental music record label in the 1980s and 1990s. This partnership inspired Eaton to compose and release his own music beginning in 2016.

Eaton describes his music as ambient, combining electronic and piano-based sounds to create “sonic landscapes.” His latest album, Weathering, debuted in August 2023.

The creative process is part magic and part practice, he says. “you need to allow yourself the space to explore.”

Categories: Alumni, Magazine, Magazine Online

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