An Epiphany While Mixing Songs
(Written in August of 2016, while working on "Separate/Same")
This past week we spent some time in the studio working on our new album "Separate/Same". We are getting close to being finished, so at this point we are mostly mixing what has already been recorded. One of the songs that we finished this past week was a song that I wrote for our daughters called "Precious". The song is already deeply emotional to me for obvious reasons. In addition to the obvious reasons, all of our daughters will be featur...ed in this track on the album. Savannah will be playing saxophone and all of the other girls will be laughing, playing, cooing, and contributing other variations of cute sounds.
Swimming in this lovely sea of beauty and cuteness as we listened to the overall mix, Steve (the engineer) suddenly did the unthinkable... he began to mute all of the channels so that he could listen to the specific sound of one part at a time. In other words, all of the cute sounds suddenly disappeared. To make matters worse, the parts he was listening to one at a time were somewhat disturbing for me to hear. Though I had at one point recorded each vocal part individually, since that initial recording, I had always listened to these parts all together... never individually. The parts are essentially background vocals that swell dynamically in and out to create a sort of lullaby ambiance. Together, the parts combine in a choir of harmonies. Isolated, each part sounds disturbingly vulnerable. At first, I became intensely critical of my voice singing falsetto parts... parts that now sounded similar to sounds I imagine a suffering beached whale would make. It was almost enough to make me scrap all of these parts and start from scratch, but I reminded myself that the parts sounded good... together. So, the next phase was to ease off a bit and recognize that the vocal parts really didn't sound like suffering whales. They simply sounded... vulnerable.
And that was when the epiphany came crashing over me like a turbulent tide at sea. Honestly, the principle is very simple: isolated and alone, the parts sound vulnerable and it is easy to become critical; together, the parts create harmony and unite in a choir of beauty. Thus, the theme of the entire album was alive in metaphor before my very eyes... Separate/Same... When we isolate and individualize others, it is easy to become critical of their particular set of faults and imperfections. When we come together in unity, vulnerably combining all of our faults and weaknesses with all of our beauty and strength... individual imperfections seemingly dissipate as we create the gorgeous harmonies of Love.