Track 9 - Meditation


Recorded: August 8, 2012
Instrumentation: Tibetan meditation bowl, Korg MS-20, Piano, Acoustic Guitar, Voice
Audio Stems: No

This week's track is very special to me.  Possibly my favorite on the record.  Truth be told I may be the only person that feels this way, but one thing I've learned about music and art is that no one is an island. If I like it, surely there must be someone somewhere else in the world that feels the same.  

Ambient music has been a major part of my life for decades now.  It's not about the chord progression, or the melody.  It's not about the instrumentation, or the shock value.  Ironically for me, ambient music is about letting go and not actually listening.  A body of work that lives in subtlety, not needing attention.  Not a realist painting, or a drama, but simply a color. Bold or dull.  Like certain types of architecture, something that effects you by its presence more than what it has to say.  

"Meditation" started exactly as that. Early in the morning I rose to a cluttered and confused head. My wife had recently gotten a Tibetan meditation bowl and I decided to make that part of my journal for the day.  

I started this song by setting up a mic, getting comfortable, and recording 10 minutes of the meditation bowl. But for me it's not just recording, it's actually being a part of the sound this bowl makes.  Every scrape, the tone, the bell.  Every accident.  Every breath.  Recording not the idea of meditation, but the actual act of it.  After recording this pass I listened back, realized the bowl was between western pitches, and so I tuned it to a concert E.  Then I set up a mic on my piano, pressed record and did another pass.  Applying the same focus.  

Durning the 3 1/2 minute mark of the song you hear the piano stop, the scraping of the bowl, and a strong tone generated by the bowl.  You also hear me get up from the piano, pick up my guitar and continue the recording on the same microphone.  

After this piano/guitar pass was completed I turned to my MS-20 putting down the sub bass track.  Again, one take, improvised in the moment.  For the gear nerds out there you can hear a pretty dramatics sweep of notes just after the 4 minute mark. This is created by sweeping the low pass filter while in self oscillation.   

I also did a high pass of of the MS-20 that's rapidly moving between notes.  It's a technique I discovered years ago, that with ambient music sometimes incredibly fast moving notes can be soothing.  Almost like finding peace in chaos.  

After adding a vocal improvisation, and simple guitar melody I turned to mix the track. All in all this is a very simple mix, mostly just balancing levels. Though I did one technique that I have myself returning to in other songs. The PSP Echo was placed on the meditation bowl. The delay was set to a fast but singular repeat. This allowed me to pan the original take hard left and the delay right. Creating the feeling of the sound jumping across your ears.

Enjoy this piece as we enter the final phase of this album. A place we're music can be forgotten a little bit and life can happen around it.