This week, I have started work on some original bedtime music for children. Those of you that have been reading my blog for a while may know about the EP I released called Bedtime Nursery Rhymes, and this is a follow-on from that. This time, rather than use well-established children’s tunes, I wanted to create something with the same concept of sleep-promotion but with original music and with no association to anything lyrical (to keep the focus on the sounds).
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about the concept I have been using to create sounds and I thought I would talk about my first go at creating this new bedtime music using these ideas. This track was started with just the name ‘Watching the Stars’ which, as you can see, provided me with two concepts: the idea of watching (stars), and the stars themselves.
I started off by creating the stars, as this would be most obvious and could lead to other ideas. I needed a sparkly, shiny sound; which I translated as high-pitched, pure with some kind of quick, defined attack (note onset). The initial sound would also fade quickly but echo as well as move across the soundscape randomly with varying strengths (some stars are brighter than others!). My synth of choice seems to be Logic’s Sculpture at the moment so I created this sound (along with the others used) using that.
Next, I looked at ‘watching’ and ‘watching stars’ in particular. From this I gathered a sense of space, in terms of being outside (better than watching under glass I think!) as well as the enormity of outer-space; a sense of wonder and amazement; and a sense of calm. As another issue, I realised that the piece would need some kind of melody to make it listenable, although this shouldn’t be too catchy or strong as these factors could impede relaxing and sleep. Having some kind of melody would also serve the second concept of ‘watching’. This is because a melody moves and gives a sense of movement and this is exactly what happens when you scan any particular scene; your eyes move as well as the thoughts accompanying them.
The initial melody I used, although calming, didn’t go anywhere and the monotony it created was far from creating the sense of wonder that I wanted, although the intended meditative affect was there. Thankfully, Sculpture has a great envelope function that allows you to change the character of the sound over time which adds some variation as well as a sense of ‘something bigger’. I also thought that things would need to be randomised a little to enhance the feeling of the enormity and again, ‘something bigger’. To do this I accompanied the main, varying melody with other notes created using a slight variation of the same synth sound and made them bolster the main melody but also to confuse it a little.
The final part of the puzzle was to ground the whole piece in a physical space. This was done using reverberation as usual, but also by using a backdrop of sound that I had recorded whilst in Italy over the summer. This is the sound of crickets that I had recorded near Rocco on the Italian Riviera which I trimmed to give a clean file that would seamlessly loop. The recording wasn’t perfect though as there was a bit of wind and rumble from cars, so I just cut out all of the low frequencies. As the noises that crickets make aren’t in the same range as low rumbles, this didn’t compromise the audio too much and it is generally the high frequencies in sound that give you the sense of space that I required. You will notice that the cricket noises aren’t very loud at all and that’s because I didn’t really want the cricket noises as such, but a sense of the atmosphere that the sounds were created in. To achieve this as subtly as possible, I made sure that the noises of the crickets were loud enough to be just heard, but when taken out left the whole piece feeling emptier. Of course, the actual character of the cricket noises do add a lot to the feel of the piece but I feel the setting deserved more attention than this subject matter.
Well, here it is below. Press play to have a listen and let me know what you think! I aim to create other pieces like this for the same concept but using other themes over the next few weeks.