As I’ve mentioned previously this month, I do worry about these ambient pieces being unenjoyable for others, but two comments on the Song-A-Day site made me feel a lot better about it.
I think my favorite track this year is Mare Imbrium. What could be more beautiful, more emotionally satisfying? I wish I had written that one.Derek Greenberg
I think I’ve listened to “Mare Insularum” like five times in a row now.Wesley Thompson
These are both people whose work I respect greatly, so getting feedback like this is one of the most valuable external things about Song-A-Day.1The main benefit is internal, of course, helping to get the creative muscles worked out and removing the preciousness of writing music.
Both comments took me a bit by surprise. Most of the comments I receive will be about a song with lyrics and vocals, or a particularly catchy instrumental jam sometimes, but for the last few years, I’ve gotten these “out of the blue” comments about tracks that I felt were, well… not throwaways, but also not “songs.”
My response to Derek included one of the key lessons that Song-A-Day has hammered into my brain.
Thank you so much, Derek! Your comment is a great reminder of something that I hope everyone participating in this insanity keeps in mind: you never know what’s going to resonate with a given listener, even the tracks you don’t think are very good.
- Mare Nectaris Ray Toler 6:32
I do like this one, but I’ve had other tracks that I posted thinking, “well, that was a waste of everyone’s time” or “this is one of worst things I’ve ever done, and I’m a bit embarrassed to post it” only to have someone later tell me it was one of their very favorites.
Another long-time participant, Darin Wilson, responded that he has dubbed that phenomenon the “Song-A-Day Effect.” I think that’s a great term, and I’ll start using it.
Uh, What About This Song?
In my response to Wesley’s comment, I noted that there was a very good chance that there would be at least one more of these tracks. I’ve been trying to leave at least four days between any of the ambient stuff, just as a loose constraint, but I was still a bit wiped out after covering Small.2We’ve been having some renovations done in the house, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to record vocals during the day, so all of the vocals were done the night before, keeping me up until about 4:00 AM. Dirty Fingernails wasn’t an overly difficult track to do, but I was still up late, and then to really compound things, the weather system moving into my area yesterday triggered a minor, but still ugly migraine.
So this track is what happens when I’m super tired, nodding off at the keyboard, and have a headache. While I do put loving care into these tracks, they’re a bit easier to manage than something with a lot of moving parts or a song structure.
Wesley’s comment actually encouraged me to do another (mostly) beatless piece. There’s not rhythm part, but the main melodic motif, bass part, and arpeggiated bits definitely provide tempo. My biggest struggle with this one was getting the final levels correct. The synths are so dense that the average loudness level has to be lower than a track that has more space in it in order for them both to have the same apparent loudness when listening. I’m getting better at this, but there’s still some trial and error. I got this one on the second try, though, with the first being just a skosh too loud.
At this point, I now think I shouldn’t have included Mare Vaporum in this series. While it’s a nice piece, it doesn’t quite fit stylistically with the other Mares. As I’ve done more of these over the course of the month, I’m now considering releasing them as an album later this year. If that happens, I’ll probably write a new “Mare Vaporum” track. Then again, maybe not. Maybe it’s fine. I’ll know after listening to them all a bit more.
Omnisphere, Pigments, Falcon, Zebra 2
Effects, Mixing, & Mastering
Movement, Masterworks EQ, Gullfoss, Pro-L 2
- 1The main benefit is internal, of course, helping to get the creative muscles worked out and removing the preciousness of writing music.
- 2We’ve been having some renovations done in the house, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to record vocals during the day, so all of the vocals were done the night before, keeping me up until about 4:00 AM.