Erie Serenade, 2021 

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Erie Serenade. I wrote this song for The Well.

The Well, based out of Cincinnati, offers programs that combine aspects of mindfulness, arts, social-emotional learning, play, movement, and poetry into practices for regular use within schools, hospitals, and communities. The Well’s Mindful Music Moments program delivers music and mindfulness daily to schools across the country.

Each week, entire schools listen to a single piece of music, repeated for 5 days, with creative, mindful prompts preceding each day. The Field Recording/New Music Project, supported by a grant from the Ohio Arts Council, hired 4 musicians to record sounds in their area and create new music with the sounds during the 2021/22 school year.

I am delighted to work on a piece that shares calm with students. The sounds of Lake Erie and surrounding wildlife were the theme and inspiration to this composition.

Notes about the recording

Erie Serenade samples sounds from the Lake Erie region. For this project, I recorded environmental acoustics at five different locations. Wave sounds were sampled from Magee Marsh and Edgewater Beach. Bird, bug, and frog songs were recorded from Old Woman Creek, Rocky River Reservation, and Columbia Station Reservation. 

What amphibians, animals, birds, and insect calls can you identify? I can hear blue jays, chickadees,  cicadas, crickets, and woodpeckers. 

The percussion is made entirely of environmental field recordings; the melody is voice. All the vocals are my own. The natural percussion was clipped to fit 79 bpm and designed to be supportive of slow, steady breathing. Once the background beat was composed I meditated on what tone would fit the emotions and intentions of the song and started recording vocals. I wanted the piece to be uplifting, repetitive, and hypnotic, yet enough variation for engagement. There are many layers to the song that can serve as cues to breathe deeply. Please follow the pulse that best serves your breathing practice. 

This project increased awareness of manmade sounds. Recording the natural environment is challenging because human-created cacophonies dominate the soundscape: running engines, ringing phones, passing planes, power and yard tools are much louder than wildlife. Even traffic lights hum. This project made me curious to hear the sounds of old-growth forests of the past.

I was asked, “What else do you want students to know, hear or think about when they hear this music?

I hope this song helps students meditate in the present moment. 

Listen to the layers.  Breathe with the music. Let worries melt away and envision a calming happy space. Feel at peace. Today is an exciting new day. May it bring joy. Thanks for sharing this moment together.

Source of sound recordings