By: Hannah Sweiderk
Megan Ball (class of 2022) and Bakhari Nokuri (right) playing "Rosaria," a duet written for marimba, composed by Nokuri.
Bakhari Nokuri has been composing music since he was in fifth grade. From video game adaptive music to band ensemble pieces, it’s Nokuri’s ability to explore emotions through music that resonates most with listeners.
But it's Nokuri's latest piece that has helped him make better sense of one listener in particular: himself.
Like a number of senior classmates, Nokuri said he experienced a level of apprehension surrounding the college application process, which led to “a state of not knowing” and eventually caused him some trouble with a few of his deadlines.
It’s no surprise, then, that his most recent composition, a jazz combination piece titled Final Thoughts, “sounds clashy,” and “might sound confusing to the listener,” according to Nokuri.
“During the first few months [of the application process] my plans were constantly changing, which is depicted in the piece through changing time signatures,” Nokuri said. “I wrote it to show colleges what I can do with different chord progressions and key changes and to help make sense of my own hesitations with the application process.”
If only Nokuri could compose his application.
In the past eight years, Nokuri has composed close to 50 pieces, 30 of which are polished pieces, each one taking anywhere from three months to a year to complete.
“When I compose, I go for an emotion, although most of the emotion I'm trying to create is already naturally there,” said Nokuri whose inspiration comes from YouTube and different bands and pieces.
“Video game music is flexible and iconic, almost timeless,” Nokuri states passionately. “The unique beats of the genre can be used to create lots of different, yet specific, emotions.”
Nokuri’s extensive music knowledge, his seemingly endless instrumental capabilities, and his rise in the music world is inspirational. Nokuri truly possesses a gift in his ability to hear and feel music.
To say that Nokuri’s past in music shaped his perspective would be an understatement. His mother was originally a trumpet player and Nokuri said it was she who inspired him to start experimenting with music. She has played at the Johns Hopkins Conservatory and now plays gigs with Nokuri.
“I wouldn’t be here without her,” Nokuri said. She’s been the most crucial part of my musical journey.”
Nokuri’s journey has seen him perform in a number of highly esteemed bands, but, for him, it all started with his cowbell solo that he performed in “Under the Moonlight.” Then, once Nokuri discovered an app on his android tablet that allowed users to find and create their own beats, he would experiment with it, and he soon discovered his love for composing.
In 7th grade, Nokuri began taking his compositions more seriously. While he joined his school’s band in elementary school, in his later years of middle and high school he made All-State and GT Orchestra and composed his first piece, solidifying his path in music.
It is a path that has led him to some of the following accolades: earning a superior “I” rating at the MdMEA Young Composer’s Project; becoming the drumline/section leader of Glenelg’s Marching Unit; and performing at many amazing places such as the Meyerhoff in Baltimore, a concert hall made famous by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
For the future, Nokuri is taking things one step at a time. He said he is unsure of whether he would like to pursue music or step into the field of the sciences; Nokuri has a niche love for both. He expressed how it takes a whole other skill set to perform music, one he's unsure he possesses.
But if Final Thoughts has taught him anything, it’s that his passion and identity are nearly one and the same, both of which, he hopes, colleges will take note.
"If you put your best foot forward, colleges won't fail to see that," he said.
*Nokuri actively posts his music on YouTube at Nokuri Music, and he also sells some of his beats on BeatStars.