"Pacific" & how it was made.

"pacific" is the 16th "yearbook" song, track 1 of the "march" ep.

i wrote this piece of music about a month or two before yearbook began... around that time, i saw a film called "the secret of kells" - an irish animated film, which was nominated for an oscar in 2010 for "best animation." i absolutely loved it. it's beautiful, haunting and inspiring. so, immediately after seeing it, i scoured the internet to find anything i could about who made this film and when and where can i see more. i found that it was directed by a gentleman by the name of tomm moore, who created "cartoon saloon" in ireland, a fantastic animation studio. i stumbled upon a "conceptual" trailer for tomm's next film, "song of the sea" and i was awe-struck. it was some of the most beautiful animation i have ever seen...

being someone filled with hopes of scoring films one day, i thought it might be a lot of fun to try my hand at writing music for this conceptual trailer. it already had lovely music in the trailer online (as heard in the trailer above), so there was no intention of "replacing" anything - it was just such a beautiful trailer that i felt inspired to write something to it, and i thought why not try my hand at "scoring" it for my own amusement.

(note: to hear "pacific" paired with the trailer, hit the mute button on the concept trailer, press play on both videos above)

so i sat down at my piano, with the trailer running on loop through my ipad. a day or so later, "pacific" was the result. i was really pleased with how it turned out, so (again, totally something i've never done) i wrote to tomm moore via twitter and asked if i could send him this little piece of music i wrote, inspired by "song of the sea." to my surprise, he replied and welcomed me sending it over. he responded incredibly kindly and it just about made me year to hear it.

"song of the sea" has yet to be released, and i believe (having had the pleasure of keeping in touch with mr. moore over the last couple years) it appears to still be in the production phase. i cannot be more excited to see this film though.. seriously, how gorgeous is that trailer?! although my music has nothing officially to do with it, i have watched this concept trailer probably a thousand times and i just think it's going to be a masterpiece.

so when i wrote this (right before "yearbook" began) i knew that i wanted to include this piece of music on one of the yearbok eps... but i held onto it until the right month came along.

"march" felt perfect for "pacific" for a few reasons:


  • something about the spring coming into view, makes me dream of the ocean. 
  • my family and i have had the incredible privilege of visiting hawaii many, many times and it always seems to be around this time. so i've enjoyed the pacific ocean in march many times throughout my life.
  • i got married in hawaii and the wedding was in march! so "pacific" was a perfect fit for the "march" ep.


originally this song was the exact length of the concept trailer - about a minute long. but when putting it together for the ep, i wanted to extend it. which created a unique problem -

most songs on yearbook, i recorded my piano a certain way that i like. i leave the mics set up and when i record my piano, i have the assurance of knowing it will sound like it did before, exactly as i like it. for "pacific" however, i recorded it a bit differently... i recorded the main piano with a small recorder, but i couldn't remember where the recorded was sitting when i originally recorded this piece of music. so in order to keep the performance of the original recording (which i very much intended to do) i had to figure out a way to add the new extension without it sounding like i started recording a totally different piano sound. so after several tests and trial and errors to figure out how i got the piano sound i originally recorded - i finally found a match, and continued on with the extended arrangement.

because the pianos were recorded with a small hand-held recorder, there were all sorts of background noises (a few coughs in the other room and tv chatter) - again, i had to decide whether or not to keep my original performance, or start over... but being the stubborn person that i am, i went with keeping the original at any cost!

i sent the piano track to my pal, jason ward at chicago mastering (the very same amazing team who mastered every yearbook ep! if you're ever looking for mastering work, use them! amazing.) and asked if he had any magic abilities to clean up the background noises and hums and coughs and whatever... and he did an insanely good job. sent it back and it sounded perfect. so my stubbornness paid off.

a long, long while ago my brother and sister-in-law bought me a violin as a gift. i adore it and play it often, however it is by far the most challenging musical instrument i have ever touched. and it sounds that way too when i practice. on this song (and many more throughout yearbook actually) i wanted to give it a shot and record some violin parts the best i can. usually i will write the arrangement and have skilled string players play it. but for this song and most others that i actually played the strings on, i just do lots of takes of misc. i'm pretty pleased with how it turned out - it has character. wonky character maybe, but character nonetheless.

added a bunch of other subtle layers throughout and really had fun putting this one together. it's the second instrumental song in the yearbook series, so it was nice to give my voice a break and dive into a film-scoring type of mindset here.

thanks for reading!

much love, ryan