“I love you dear baby”Composer Steve Luck describes the process involved in producing two new versions of the beautiful Bengali lullaby, ‘Ami Tomake’
My name is Steve Luck and I am a musician and composer based in Newcastle Upon Tyne. In the past the majority of my composition work has been for film and media companies. In 2007 I won two awards from the Royal Television Society for Professional Excellence in Music.
In October of 2010 I was approached by Clare Spoors who asked if I would be able to help to put together a CD recording of Ami Tomake. Clare has been a member of the International Association of Infant Massage for over 10 years and is a CIMI and IAIM Training Coordinator. Clare cares passionately about the benefits of infant massage and has devoted time and energy promoting the work of the IAIM through her own business ‘Nurture Us’. She wanted to create a version of the beautiful lullaby composed in accordance with both musical and scientific principles, based on research she had been interested in for many years.
Together we embarked on a period of clarifying the research, distilling some ideas taken from current thinking in music therapy and the psychology of music. What emerged was an idea for an approach to the composition guided by the principles we had discovered.
Music is relaxing when it is slow. It sounds obvious to say but the reason for it is linked to a natural response to sound which is due to associations deep within all of us. A number of studies have shown that when listening to music, humans tend to respond to the aural stimuli by increasing or decreasing their heart rate in a proportionally synchronised way with the tempo of the music they are listening to – an effect known as ‘entrainment’. This effect helped us to determine the tempo of Ami Tomake. We set it to match that of the resting heart rate at 64 bpm.Keep Good Time
The original time signature of the Ami Tomake lullaby was 4/4 – ie. It had four beats in each bar. Research has shown that music in triple time – three beats in a bar – is generally found to feel more relaxing, lilting and calming than other time signatures so it was necessary to adapt the melody to fit into a 3/4 framework.Instrumentation
With regard to instrumentation, strings and woodwinds have long been associated with smooth and relaxing melodies. The other orchestral instruments – the brass and percussion – tend to be used for stirring, invigorating or exciting purposes within music. The music of Ami Tomake would therefore be scored for strings, harp and solo flute.Voices
We always planned to use female voices singing the melody on the vocal version ‘Ami Tomake’. In both the melody and harmony parts, the singers use very little in the way of vibrato in their repetitions of the chant like lyrics (“Ami Tomake, Balobashi Baby” meaning “I love you dear baby”) as this vocal technique is associated with a more formal or ‘parent’ voice which is not conducive for relaxation.The process
Based on these principles outlined above I set about composing and arranging the music. The writing and recording part of the process took a little over two months to complete. It began with synthetic MIDI sounds, when trying out harmony and melody combinations and gradually, once the arrangement was settled upon, these synthetic sounds were replaced by real people playing real instruments for the key parts of the composition and for the background parts, by high quality orchestral samples – real instruments recorded and constructed into playable voices within a software instrument. Violin parts were performed by Lydia Muddiman and the flute parts were recorded by Tom Lovatt. Towards the end of this process both Lesley Roley and Eloise Hodder came in to the studio to record the vocals.
All of the tracks were then studiously mixed. The levels were carefully balanced against each other and kept consistently even. All the while, I was conscious that we didn’t want any surprising variations in level or musical texture that would disturb the listener and destroy the relaxing mood. The resulting hour long track was then taken to be professionally mastered by Steve Coates at Red Tape Studios in Newcastle.Response
The response we had when we first played the track to other people was overwhelmingly positive. Comments included “it’s so relaxing…beautiful….and I nearly fell asleep and I was supposed to be working…”
This also led to more than a few requests from different people for a purely instrumental version of the track which I put together and called ‘The Ami Tomake Suite’. This version includes brand new musical material in addition the instrumental tracks contained in the original.
Throughout the process the UK Chapter of the IAIM were incredibly supportive and encouraging. We are delighted to be working in partnership with them to promote the CD’s and offer them for sale through their web site at www.iaim.org.ukWhy Ami Tomake?
Ami Tomake is a centuries old Bengali lullaby that has been enjoyed by parents and children alike for many generations. It is also the unofficial anthem of the International Association of Infant Massage.
The specially arranged versions on these CD’s can be helpful in promoting babies sleep and for relaxing parents and babies before and after infant massage sessions. They can also be used as an ideal accompaniment to a range of complementary therapies.Contact
You can hear the results of our work on this web site.
We would love to hear your thoughts on the recording. If you have any queries or comments do please get in touch via email at [email protected]
Many thanks for taking the time to read this article and Claire and I very much hope you enjoy the music.