Today I released an album of music for float tanks. This was quite challenging for me, so I’d be curious to hear other people’s experiences making music for relaxation. How do you approach it?
Generally most pieces I make are 3-4 minutes long, so creating a full hour of music was daunting. Initially I wanted to make a continuous hour of music, but I ended up making an album with 8 tracks, several in the 8-10 minute range. I had to pace myself far more than I usually would, introducing sounds slowly, and leaving a lot of space. I normally shy away from using a lot of delay, but I relied on it heavily in these pieces. Delay can evoke the feeling of ripples spreading out on a pond, which fitted the watery theme of the work.
Music has to be heavily EQ’d for the tank: high frequencies boosted, and low frequencies severely attenuated. Tank resonances have to be eliminated. In hindsight if I did this again I would rely more on sounds in the vocal range, and not do much at all in the bass. Mid frequencies are transmitted with no problem, but musically significant things in the bass can get lost due to EQing.
This album was made entirely with an Elektron Analog Four and a Digitone, which means I’ll be able to perform the whole album live.
Great idea. I love music with a specific use case.
I used to have some underwater headphones and when they actually worked, swimming while listening to Brian Eno was heavenly. I didn’t get many laps in because diving under the water, watching the caustic reflections and listening to ambient was just too enjoyable.
This was commissioned by a music venue (Pyramid Club) in collaboration with a float tank centre (Float Well) in Wellington, NZ. The music is available in the tanks at Float Well, and people can request it when they book their float. I was able to do a test-float and hear it in the tank last September. This project has really got me into floating! It’s incredibly relaxing.
Pyramid Club also staged a launch event at a public swimming-pool in October. They borrowed an underwater speaker from a synchronised swimmer, and the plan was for me to perform the work live (poolside!) while people swam around with snorkels. Unfortunately I had hip surgery that month, but my long-time collaborator ducklingmonster did a remix/performance, which was a big success.
I plan to perform the album live in a suitably ambient-music-friendly environment, with low lighting and mats for the audience to lie on.
Wet Sounds (the same people who do Scrap Club) did a series of pool shows last decade - this one featured Nurse With Wound at the Lido in Hackney in London. I did attend (and can be seen in this video a friend filmed here), but as I couldn’t swim at that point, I only heard some of it underwater by laying on the side of the pool and ducking my ears below the surface.
I had ear bud ones that attached to an little mp3 that hung off the back of your goggles strap. They need a water tights seal in you ear hole to work, which didn’t always work and often didn’t stay sealed. This was a few years ago, perhaps they have improved.