Commercial Diving Inspires Musician Eric Holm

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Underwater sounds — our own bubbles, parrotfish munching on the reef — are familiar to divers, but most of us don’t think of these noises as musical. One inventive artist, Eric Holm, hopes to change that by creating commercial-diving-inspired music.

“I was absolutely captivated by it,” Holm says of his first underwater experience, adding that since then, the ocean has become his muse.

Holm first sought commercial-diving certification to gain employment, but rather than lead to a career as a diver, it helped spark his musical ambitions. Recording and processing sounds of wet and dry bells, helmets and their exhaust compressors led to the creation of a song called “Barotrauma,” a musical reflection of his fascination with the underwater world.

Commissioned for MaerzMusik, a German music festival devoted to contemporary time issues, “Barotrauma” is a sketch of bigger ideas to come, Holm says. A work in progress, the song was slated for release with a video component as this article went to press.

“If I don’t make totally unexpected things happen, I’m not satisfied,” he says. “My own ideas are jumping-off points.”

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