Thinking of Sound: Composing in waves

One of the things that I enjoy about composing soundscapes or ambient music is the way that the music, while lacking a beat, still has a rhythm. Most often that rhythm comes together from the patterns in which the sound ebbs and flows. It’s kind of like listening to waves break on a shore or the sound of a boat rocking on the water. It’s not a beat, in a strict musical sense, but it’s definitely a rhythm that is born into the music. I think of listening to Claude Debussy’s La Mer, or The Sea, which truly brings this rhythmic ebb and flow to life.

This rhythm has a tendency to come into phase with the heart beat; the body and mind become one with the sound. In order to foster more of this listening experience in my own work, I’ve found it important to give the sound the space needed to allow for the music to breathe and become fully experiential from a complete physical perspective, rather than only an aural one. This can be tough for the composer, because they really must get out of their own way and let the composition move in its own direction.

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