Daylight - Sounds of the Mountains
Updated: Mar 29
Cities and Memory - Remixing the Sounds of Italy
This piece was created as part of the Cities and Memory - Italy Project. Cities and Memory was founded and is curated by sound artists Stuart Fowkes who shares sound art and music through podcasts, albums, social media, and more. Each track is created with an ambient sound recording that is meant to encapsulate the feeling of being in a physical space. The sounds are submitted and shared between sound artists and composers alike. Listen to the entire album, Sounds from Italy Volume 2. below.
For this project, sound artists and composers chose their sound from a prepared library of sounds all recorded in Italy. The found sound recording I chose contains the sounds of bells jangling while Alpine cows graze high in the Dolomites along with the faraway murmurs of people chatting and outdoor ambience.
To me, the initial recording gave me the impression of shimmering light on a late spring or early summer day, like the light in the photograph I took above. I used the audio to generate MIDI data from I constructed the melody, harmony, rhythm, and tempo of the piece. I created a glassy piano patch using "The Giant - Cinematic" by Native Instruments and played back some of the patterns that I discovered by transforming original the audio into MIDI data. I also mixed in some of the pure MIDI data, having the sounds provided by software instruments. I cut, spliced, slowed down, sped up, exported between Ableton Live and Logic, and otherwise transformed the resulting audio files and pasted them together as a sound collage. When I had a general arrangement that I like, I went back and added a Gregorian pad by following the implied harmonies. Lastly, I doubled some of the pad on my Korg Minilogue using a Moog-like patch to add additional aural shimmer.
I started out in a ternary (ABA) form but ended up removing the musical B section and instead fading the various audio files in and out. I decided one simple musical idea was better than two to maintain the ambience of the track. After all, many ambient pieces consist of sparse musical ideas and may even consist of one note or chord. Too many musical ideas can make it impossible for a piece to fulfill its purpose. This is especially true when the purpose of the piece is to be the an auditory extension of an abstract feeling.
With ambient music, I feel that there's a balance between creating a contemplative auditory space and boring the listener to tears.Tthere's always a risk that a piece will feel redundant or worse just plain dull. I try to avoid letting these kind of pieces go on too long. So, I went back and cut the piece down to only a minute and a half. (The original sound was about two minutes long, and the piece was about four minutes.) However, after re-listening, I decided it felt truncated and incomplete. It wasn't long enough to allow the listener to get immersed in the musical space. I decided to go back in and moved a few things around, added some cut material back in, and created the longer version.
For the video, I was originally going to use actual stock footage of cows in the Dolomites, but the available video, though lovely, did not match the resulting mood of the piece. So, I found free stock footage of light through trees. The video is by Matthias Groeneveld from Pexels. I simply slowed the video down to match the speed of the sounds.
I've got another Cities and Memory Project in the works for next month; the project is the Sounds of Short Wave Radio.
"Daylight" by Janae Jean ©2021 SpindriftgreenMusic (ASCAP)
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