A Kid Called Ocean
I recently played a series of “live score” performances called Sea Melodies, at the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium in Salt Lake City, Utah.
These gigs were interactive performances with the intention of composing live and interacting with the guests in different galleries of the aquarium.
The third gig, August 12th, was in the Jellies Gallery at the Living Planet Aquarium. I started at 9:30am, the earliest gig I've ever done. It's a dark space, there's light slowly dancing on the floor, backlit blue tanks with jellies floating, very psychedelic. I loved waking up with the jellies before guests arrived. As I played, I focused on the pulsing jellies and vibed with their tempo. I had to focus on one a time to cop a tempo. They pulse at an incredibly slow tempo, around 40 beats per minute, slower than the average resting heart rate. I experimented with different tempi and feel. I changed the sounds up a bit until we started to groove. The caffeine was kicking in so I reduced the coffee intake and did some deep breathing so I could settle in with these beautiful creatures. I hit record as the music was starting to mesh with the environment. I cleared my mind, closed my eyes and played really slowly. In my trance, I didn’t realize that guests had started to stroll into the gallery. I greeted excited kids and their parents. The guests were marveling in awe of the jellies. I kept playing while watching the people. I tried to imagine what was going through their minds. I felt it was my duty to enhance this magical experience. This brought out new melodies and motifs that I've never played before. I thought to myself, this is real, this is making music in a very organic way, humans and nature together. I tried to imagine what a baby experiences seeing a swarm of jellies for the first time. What kind of lasting imprint will this leave on fresh brain cells? If you’re looking for alien life, look no further than the ocean. It’s full of "alien-esque" creatures that will blow your mind.
As the day rolled on, wave after wave of guests arrived. I occasionally paused to visit with them. There were a variety of guests including musicians asking about the technology I was using, parents with kids that were learning instruments and some that just wanted to talk. The energy in the gallery was positive and happy.
One of my goals with this event series was to share my approach of composing music to fish and animals. This gives artists a new perspective on composing music and connecting nature to creativity. I wanted to honor and share that connection.
A two-year old named Ocean (really!), was particularly memorable. His parents claimed he was very musical. As it turned out, they were right. I invited Ocean into my keyboard area and asked him to press some keys. He pointed to the jellies, then my keyboard, suggesting without words for me to play. He just stood there transfixed, listening to me and watching the jellies.
Success! This made the event totally worthwhile. For Ocean, connecting music and the jellies appeared to be a revelation, providing a connection between creativity, music and ocean life. Hopefully, he’ll have a lifetime of musical pleasure and sharing of his gifts.
You can hear this music now. I’d love some comments on where you think this new music fits in the aquarium galleries. You can add comments in soundcloud within each song.
I played the California Grand, a Fazioli 10 foot grand from the Q Up Arts collection, California Keys in Kontakt, using a Native Instruments S88 Kontroller while recording into Apple Logic sequencer. Terence Hansen's cross neck guitar was recorded direct into the Apogee Quartet I/O. Reverb is the Relab 480 plug in. The live flutes, digeridoo and hand percussion were recorded live with a Shure KSM32 microphone. Crowd noise was removed using Izotope's RX5 Advanced. Alloy 2 was used for compression and EQ.
Stay tuned for more gigs and more new music!
Many thanks for reading and listening!
Musically Yours, Douglas