Comforting Music – By John Barnard
It was not long after completing ‘The Changing Years’ that I really felt the need to get outside. I had visited Araluen Park previously and remembered the ambiance and peace of the place. So I approached the Park’s Council with a suggestion that I record the natural sounds heard within the park and blend those with my music. That proposition was accepted and I made arrangements to visit the park early one morning.
This was a new ball game for me. I only had basic equipment, but the birds sang for me, the frogs croaked and the streams were full of the sound of running water. This, despite my tripping over my leads and nearly falling off a bridge when I disturbed a couple of ducks lurking underneath.
Setting up under a tree, I pointed my microphone at the sky and waited. To my astonishment a bird started singing and went on for ten minutes! The same thing happened at the next tree. And down at the river and in fact everywhere I went.
I was well satisfied.
On returning home, I listened to the results and immediately thought that this was going to be harder that I first imagined. I was not about to compromise on the sound of the bird song, thinking that this little bundle of feathers and its’ forbears had been performing this song since the dawn of creation. It was I who had to model my music around this tiny creatures’ call.
It took me therefore about two hundred hours to put down the first track!
Another challenge was to capture the spirit of the surroundings, but when I was listening to the sounds of nature the inspiration was flowing, like the stream that I had recorded. It became somewhat confusing when all the birds in my garden joined in and the crickets responded to the sounds of the frogs. I had to sound proof the house with blankets.
*Blending in the sounds with my music however was by no means an easy feat. I had to chart the bird song, find out what key it was singing in, create a harmonic progression to match the song, and then find a melody line to suit. This first track, eight minutes long, took 200 hours to accomplish.
The concept of this album is a day at Araluen Botanic Park in Western Australia and all the natural sounds that you hear were recorded in the park and form a fabric into which the compositions are carefully woven.
This album recreates the harmonies, textures and the colours in a musical image of the park that can be revisited and reflected upon many times. The music is an expression of the serenity and ambience of Araluen.
You may have to wait a few seconds for the tracks to load:
I added this track at a later date as it seemed to fit in nicely.
The CD had to have an ‘Araluen Theme’, so this one came to mind. Some sweeping sounds to match the location of a valley between two hills.
The sounds of running water were perfect for this track. Many a time I had thought of the title long before I actually composed the song. As a boy I used to go up to the local wooded park and sit alone by a quiet stream and dream about all sorts of things
The history of Araluen Botanic Park can be found on their web site. Once having read that account, it will be easy for the listener to relate to my music on this topic.
I actually used a slow swing rhythm for this tune. No one was more surprised than myself. But it seemed to suit the sound of the frogs and running water and all I could think of was a hot summer afternoon, lying on a nice green lawn, by a ‘lazy creek’ gradually finishing off a bottle of white wine. What a way to go !
One of the reasons for this album was to give the visitor a CD that they could go away with and remember their time spent in the park… hence this title.
A mixture of bird song from the evening chorus with a slow reminiscent beat finishes this popular CD off nicely. British Airways thought it was nice too and played it, along with ‘Beyond The Clouds’ for another year or so.
The Western Australian Government Department for the Arts had a scheme whereby an artist could apply for venture capital to commence a project. I applied on the basis that I intended to produce my own CD. Capital was approved and I released ‘Araluen’ having done everything myself!