Making music and keeping in touch with friends makes me happy. It helped me through 2020 and now at the start of a new year I want to share some of that happiness.
In September 2020 I contacted some friends and asked them to send me a sound that makes them happy. These friends live all over the world (Australia, England, Germany, Holland, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, Scotland and USA). As their recordings began arriving in my inbox I started to notice recurring themes:
- a beautiful variety of bird songs
- an assortment of pet sounds (squeaks, meows, purrs, snuffles and barks)
- ambient sounds of nature (particularly water pulling at pebbles on beaches)
- quirky found sounds – both acoustic (door squeaks) and electronic (dishwasher bleeps)
- sounds made in favourite activities (drawing and brewing cider both feature)
- and of course the activity of making music itself
The contributors span a wide age range: from toddlers to people who are well into adulthood. Through their sounds and messages I was reminded of the different things sound and music can mean to us – a toddler intently exploring sounds of a xylophone with her dad, ‘grown ups’ revelling in losing themselves while making music.
And so it was for me.
In my email to friends I didn’t try to suggest what ‘happy’ means – it is kind of hard to pin down. One dictionary defines it as ‘The state of pleasurable contentment of mind; deep pleasure in or contentment with one’s circumstances.’ But it can also be about ‘doing’ as much as ‘being’. For me this project was a kind of therapy…
I often worked on the music late into the night – finding peace once I’d finally managed to get my kids to sleep. I absolutely loved creating my own sonic worlds to explore [much like the toddler] and sat for hours wrapped in comforting layers of sound, warmed with blankets of reverb.
I’ve worked on this project in-between other things over four months or so. In total I have made 20 tracks (roughly 80 minutes of music) from the happy sounds I received. The tracks have mostly been named by kids and young people (for they have much better ideas than me!).
Now that I’ve finished I want to share this album with as many people as I can. Rather than ask for money I thought it was a nice idea to encourage some happy thoughts. So if you would like to ‘buy’ the album simply email a message about something that makes you happy to: firstname.lastname@example.org* and you’ll receive a download link. (If you don’t see the email please check your junk / spam folder).
All the best,
* I will not keep your email address or any personal details but I would like to use your happy message in future versions of this project.
Tommy Perman is an artist, designer and musician from Scotland. His recent music releases include Sing the Gloaming (Blackford Hill, 2020) and Emergent Slow Arcs (Fire Records, 2019). You can see and hear more of his work on www.surfacepressure.net