Waters Are My Sky

Like the last album, “Waters Are My Sky” was written with a screensaver in mind. I actually started with the idea of using a fish tank screensaver for the Spaceship: Continuum album but space was what that record was. What you see in the video is Serene Screen’s Marine Aquarium 3.2. It is a fun application. I actually wanted to use Dream Aquarium as the rendering and fish behavior is better overall but I had written a track or two with Marine Aquarium running, as it was on my studio PC, and when I played the two together they didn’t gell. The flows didn’t match so I kept going with Marine as they did match. Maybe if I make a Waters II…

I was obsessed with having fish when I was 12. It felt like my life’s work at the time, to own a marine aquarium (with sea horses) but at 47 I am still fishless. I think in part as I really don’t want the hassle of keeping the damned thing clean. Not to mention replacing all the dead fishes. I needed a screensaver for my downstairs TV as it is an older Plasma (that I inherited) and has a horrible burn-in issue if the picture doesn’t change within 10 mins. That led me to find the aquarium screensavers which are pretty darned good – and I don’t have to tip out the TV and scrape off the slime every couple of weeks.

Track by track:

  1. Waters Are My Sky – Yep, an odd name. It is a direct lift from the Garth Brooks song “The River”. If you don’t know this song then you are missing out. Past that there is no crossover musically. The title appealed to me as it speaks about how we are creatures of our nature. A fish lives in water, a bird lives in the sky. So much of the time I think, we try to live outside our natures and it can’t end well. Otherwise just see this as setting the watery scene with the water, bubbles, and fishes nosing about corals.
  2. Lionfish – These guys look so impressive and regal. They are well named. However don’t get near them as they have 18 poisonous spines.
  3. Angelfish – Wasn’t planned but this piece manages to use some of the same techniques as those on my Watchers album which covered an angel or two. I guess it was subconscious that I write angels with “guitars”.
  4. Tang – I tried to build a sense of “schooling” – the way fish swim back and forth together with synchronized turns. You may recognize one of the blue fish as being the same as a character from a movie.
  5. Bannerfish – Imagine being a billboard! I actually wanted to go for a dramatic but stately feel. I can’t say that it is particularly easy to express B&W stripes in music.
  6. Moray Eel – This piece was made for a competition for a new synth. As usual, I expect not to win as this isn’t the style they expect to hear. The instrument is billed as a sort of 70’s Moog Modular thing. I hoped that would help me make something that felt like the power of a Moray whilst also showing the inquisitive nature (that sometimes leads to divers being bitten).
  7. Damselfish – Sadly the screensaver hasn’t modeled the unique behavior of Damselfish; the males court by swimming up and down a water column and making pulses of sound. I try to suggest those things with the arpeggios.
  8. Triggerfish – The first piece written about a fish. Not all of these guys are super-friendly. Some are very aggressive over their territories and can bite humans. This is why I made the piece sound a bit ominous with a minor-key intro and that sharp lead.
  9. Starfish – Not the most exciting critters to watch as they are very slow (and this fellow never goes anywhere) but starfish are somehow rather appealing. When they do move they are prone to being rather graceful.
  10. Clownfish – If you work out why there is only one fish in the tank for this then you get full points. I deliberately tried to put the film aside for this. The first minute tries to convey the movement of the water and the anemone tentacles. The lead sound then tries to give a sense of the fish moving around inside the anemone. You can decide if I got it right.
  11. Royal Gramma – I had the strummed “guitar” sound and the “piano” motif and had to match it to a fish. The fish tends to be pretty peaceful with other fish, except when they intrude on the chosen home. Probably a fair fit.
  12. Goodnight Fish – The first piece written and even really before I had fully decided to use the aquarium screensaver (didn’t want to seem repetitive). It just seemed to manage to convey all the elements I was seeing in the tank whilst having an end-of-album feel. It struck me that this is what it would feel like to watch your fish before going to bed.
  13. Triggerfish reprise – The piece had two halves but they refused to sit right as a whole. It then struck me that I could separate them and have the second half as a reprise. This worked out nicely as while Goodnight feels like an ender I always felt it needed something else to close the album completely. This fragment does that.

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