I knew immediately that I wanted my video filmed by the ocean. It was for a last-minute music contest entry, and I was determined to record it at the beach. What is it about the beach that is universally soothing to everyone? The rhythm of the waves, the light on the water, the breadth of the landscape? A sense of awe and wonder never evades me when I visit the ocean.
But even with my love for the ocean, I couldn’t have planned on one remarkable thing that happened as I was capturing the film — something I wasn’t even aware of until I was playing it back.
A lot of little things went wrong during filming: equipment had been misplaced, batteries ran out, my favorite hat I wanted to wear was nowhere to be found. We only had a small amount of time to film before the sunlight was gone. We’d done a few takes, but decided to give it one final go as the day’s final rays from the sun faded on the water. The videographer had me move to a different position for lighting purposes, and I became more aware of the sound of the ocean. This is when the magic happened: without even noticing, my tempo caught up with the rhythm of the waves. As I looked out over the beach, the phrases of the song quietly tucked into the timing of the sea. I found myself breathing better and easier between the lines of my lyrics. The ocean was more than a pretty setting right then — it was my metronome and my muse.
In the past I’ve felt the need to “comp” all of my songs, using hundreds of little pieces strung together to meet my expectations of what a good recording should be. With this video, I hit a milestone: I sang a recording that was 100% organic — no syncing together. The audio is raw, not composited, and right next to the ocean. About as natural and real as you can get.
Of course there are little imperfections, but they are actually what I love most about the recording. The quiver in my voice when I sing the word “heart.” The part when I sing the end of the bridge and wander off pitch but then back on again. The details I once thought needed to be edited out, I now see as the parts that share my most authentic emotions.
The environment inspired a performance that was authentic and present, different than the glossed-over content that our tech-savvy society frequently delivers and consumes. I finally *get it*, that thing music teachers and sound engineers have always tried to explain to me: I understand now what it means to perform a song with genuine emotion, not unrealistic perfection.
Maybe heading back to nature will help more of us in our quest for beauty and art that’s real, not flawless. Present, not perfect. Connected by the rhythm of the ocean, not the beat of a click track.
See the video here: http://songwriter.revimage.com/channels/Anna+Cate