Before settling in Greenpoint in 2009, Craig Shepard looked at apartments all over north and west Brooklyn. “I traveled to most of these places via subway, and got to know only a small spot around the subway entrances,” he tells us. “I would come out of the subway totally disoriented. I felt that I had teleported there.” So lately he’s started walking. “It fills in the holes in my mental map. I find that I am much better able to orient myself right where I am, and in the end feel more at home in Brooklyn.” But he’s not only walking to make himself more alert, or to make himself feel more connected to others—he’s also composing music.
As part of a project he calls “On Foot: Brooklyn,” Shepard, 36, spent every week from February to May walking and composing; on Sundays, he’d walk from his home in Greenpoint to a neighborhood in Brooklyn—like Red Hook, East New York, or Sheepshead Bay—and perform the piece in a public place. “While on a long walk, melodies, phrases and rhythms present themselves to me. I can ‘hear’ them in my imagination. Sometimes, I find myself humming the same phrase for an hour. I write these fragments down. Then at the end of the week, I see which ones fit together for a piece,” he tells us. “The rhythm of walking allows me to slow down enough to be aware of what is right in front of me, and at the same time to let my mind wander.”