In a series of posts I’m starting today I will help you understand more fully what goes into the crafting of our music-based routines and songs, and show you how to recognize a variety of important elements, like “brain-based” movement content, thematic emphases, various aspects of arrangement (including tempo), and more.
Please recognize that I’m also talking here about the power and potential of the tracks to MOTIVATE.
With all the software available these days, a lot of children’s music is cranked out in a few hours using a few simple tracks layered together by someone sitting at their computer in their home-office/bedroom/rec-room.
We, however, are still recording our music in a professional studio, using professional musicians. This makes a big difference in the finished product, and as co-producer/co-arranger (with Kenny Munshaw) of the audio material, my artistic sensibilities will not let me have it any other way. Our CDs typically take 7-9 months to craft and record, with much attention to detail and the involvement of numerous people (our team).
Take “Catch A Brain Wave,” for example. The finished audio for this fitness routine (warm-up) is a composite of 64 individual tracks, each separately recorded (including children’s vocal tracks) and then mixed together using state-of-the-art recording equipment operated by a professional recording engineer (Ron Chilton). I think that if teachers and parents are going to hear the tracks over and over again – because kids like them! – the music must “wear well” and have sound with sophistication and quality. I’ve been making music for many years now, and these days I often hear from fans who are buying CD or mp3 versions of the RONNO recordings they enjoyed on records and cassettes in their childhood, to share with their own children.
Listen to some demonstration segments from the warm-up routine I mentioned above, “Catch A Brain Wave.” While you listen, you can try to distinguish the following key elements in the tracks:
- an interweaving of many percussion/rhythmic elements, designed to provoke the physical response of wanting to get up and move;
- a variety of sound effects, useful in creating a compelling experience (for me, the act of producing is very much about “creating experience,” rather like a director does when making a movie);
- a strong lyric/melodic “hook” repeated in the chorus (i.e., “Brain wave, brain wave/Catch a brain wave”) that the listener will be anticipating and wanting to sing along with;
- other infectious, “hooky” surprises (e.g., the “b-b-b-b-b-b-b” vocal part starting off each chorus – kids grab on to this big-time!);
- children’s voices lending vocal support in the choruses (children love to hear other children singing and/or speaking in the tracks).
Crank up your audio and try listening very closely (even with your eyes closed to help you focus). See if you can start to distinguish how the 64 individual tracks of instrumentation and vocals layer to create the Catch A Brain Wave ”experience.” Do you hear how, with very deliberate crafting, the resulting whole is greater than the sum of the parts? I hope so.
With my next posting, we’ll be examining one of the cool-down down routines on the Catch A Brain Wave Fitness Fun CD, to consider, among other things, how its tempo of 60 beats per minute has been set very deliberately to help send the brain into “Alpha mode,” supporting positive emotional experiences through stimulation of the limbic system, relaxing the listener/participant, providing stress release, and increasing focus (to prepare for better learning).
Keep on singing,