For Rain, I decided to challenge myself and see if I could create an interesting sounding surround recording using just a single instrument. Rather than building up the arrangement with the usually layering of guitars and other instruments, I would instead call on the recorded sounds of rain and thunder to help create an immersive surround sound environment. Initially, I had my doubts as to whether this minimalistic approach would yield interesting results, but as the arrangement came together, I realized the rain and thunder sounds really helped provide a unique and intimate-sounding perspective for the nylon-string melodies.
I suppose the most accurate way to capture the sound of a thunderstorm in full surround would be to go out in a field with four microphones and hit "record," right? No, that didn't sound very appealing to me, either. Even if I did escape getting struck by lightning, I'd still have to compensate for the wind and rain interfering with the quality of sound and perhaps even ruining my gear. No wonder Hollywood movie studios frequently, if not exclusively, turn to special effects artists to create artificial thunder and rain sound tracks! However, I'd had my go with artificial nature sounds with the blizzard sounds for "Hoth," and really wanted to capture the real thing for Rain. In the end, the sounds you hear on the recording are the result of my setting up a portable audio recorder in my living room window and capturing what would turn out to be the first and only real strong thunderstorm during an unusually dry summer.
The music is primarily an improvised piece, inspired by a finger-picking pattern I was playing with while hanging out in the living room, waiting for my daughter's school bus to arrive. As the melody for a song began to take shape, I conjured up the image of a grey-haired man sitting in a rocking chair on the porch of an old farm house piddling around on a guitar while waiting out a summer storm.
Fellow Rush fans may recognize the seemingly random, non-musical open strings played at the start of the track as an homage to the Canadian rock power-trio. Bonus points if you can name the track in reference! ;-)
The cover photo, captured in the same yard where the rain and thunder were recorded, features the Yamaha nylon string guitar used for the recording. (Don't worry! No guitars were harmed in the composition of the photo!)
5.1 surround versions available exclusively on the Apple iOS and tvOS Apps Stores (see the Apps page for more info)