So I got an email from Adam at the beginning of last week, he and Hannah are a few weeks away from the birth of their first baby and they were looking for calming piano music that would help them with their breathing exercises.  Adam had originally asked if I had some published tracks that might work and while I thought that Sexercise would be the right feel - it maybe wasn't the right name!

I started to think why not actually compose something specifically for them and after a bit of reading decided to sit down and do just that.

Music to give birth to

The online literature around breathing exercises for pregnancy tend to encourage a longer exhale than inhale and after swapping information with Adam, they were looking to get to a point where each inhale would be a count of 4 and each exhale a count of 6.  If they were targeting 6 full breaths a minute - this would give a steady tempo of around 60 beats per minute.

Now I'm a little odd when it comes to tempos and I have a thing about prime numbers which I'll go into another time but I set the tempo for this piece at 61 beats per minute.  The fun thing about this track development is that I did it completely on Periscope.  

Overly Arpeggio'd

I knew that I wanted to use a musical cue to indicate when to inhale and when to exhale - by splitting up the full breath into a 4 and a 6 beat I originally started with basic arpeggios - with moving up the board for the first 4 beats and moving down the board for the second 6.   That made sense to me as you'd inhale on the up melody and exhale on the down melody. 

The only problem was it was a bit boring - you can see and listen to that first development here: Breathe early arpeggio development on Katch

Changing from 4 to 6

As often happens with my particular process it's just by playing and playing that the insight comes and a breakthrough is made.  I had been keeping the same time signature for both parts of the breath - i.e. 4/4 time and feel - which was always a bit odd it felt like 4 in, then 4 out and then this extra 2 just hanging nowhere.  

It hit me that if I pushed that second 6 beats into a more 6/8 feel - so it would feel like two sets of three then everything might seem to fit together a lot better. 

And it started to come together - here's the session where that happened: Breathe 5th Theme Development on Katch

Dialing in the melody

Now that I knew how the track could feel I began to focus in on the actual melody and dial in the melodic cue that the first 4 beats of each breath would start with.  I know that the trick to this kind of track is repetition but you've got to do it in a way that doesn't feel repetitive - easy huh!?

After a a further series of developments I had the overall piece in my head, I then followed up with 7 sessions in a row where I was searching for the best performance and the track you hear at the top was from session 7.  It needs to be mastered before it's released but it sounds pretty good so far.

Periscope facts and figures

From the moment Adam put the idea into my head through to the finished final track here are the stats from Periscope:

  • 20 separate "scopes" or sessions
  • 2 hours, 15 minutes and 58 seconds of musical development
  • Strangers tuned in and streamed for over 3 hours and 50 minutes
  • 1517 hearts
  •  83 replays
  • 623 live viewers
  • 309 viewers on the web

All in all, it's been a pretty cool experience!

Not just for pregnancy breathing

I got a note back from Adam (who's a super graphic designer - check him out here) who was listening to the final track at work and finding that it helped him to relax even there!  If you find yourself stressed or would just like to focus on your own breathing - this is a useful tool to calm things down - check it out.

Get notified when we publish new music

We stream live on Periscope and share good development tracks on YouTube and through the blog and social media, but final tracks are published through iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music etc.  You can follow us on the various social networks if you're into the development tracks but if you'd like to be notified by email when we publish the fully mastered final version, sign up below.

Image Credit:  Valerie on Flickr