Jesse Stern | Sacred Spaces

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New Age: Ambient New Age: Yoga Moods: Instrumental
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Sacred Spaces

by Jesse Stern

Sacred Spaces is an ambient-cinematic cycle, designed for relaxation, meditation, yoga, healing arts, or just chilling. Sit back, put on your favorite headphones, close your eyes, and listen.
Genre: New Age: Ambient
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  Song Share Time Download
1. First Light
3:26 $0.99
2. Petals
4:30 $0.99
3. The Passing Storm
5:50 $0.99
4. Starlight Star Bright
4:08 $0.99
5. Path of Few
4:00 $0.99
6. Stitch in Time
7:32 $0.99
7. Shadows On the Mountain
3:20 $0.99
8. Pull Down the Sky
5:17 $0.99
9. Season in the Mist
4:13 $0.99
10. As Without so Within
5:31 $0.99
11. Our Way Home
4:20 $0.99
12. A Sacred Space
4:06 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
My very honest friend — and my best friend who is neither a musician nor into anything meditative whatsoever — said he became irritated listening to this album, because he didn't understand it. I asked him if he could enjoy listening to it even if he didn't understand it. Then, I decided to write some notes on what each piece meant to me, how each piece is structured, and what I was thinking & intending when I wrote them. This is for you, Patrick:

Some of the pieces had a specific intent, some didn’t. However, the idea of this album is a soundtrack for the journey that takes place when we close our eyes, but stay awake — whether meditating or just relaxing. The forms and melodies are very long, intended to either evade the listener’s focus or stretch the listener’s attention, like counting your own breaths. The ideal way to listen is eyes closed, headphones on, but it’s also fine to use as background music.

1. First Light is the opening credits, so to speak - settling the body and mind, and saying "here I am". This piece opens the doorway toward a higher vibration for meditation or elevated consciousness. It uses tubular bells, slow-moving synths, a bass drum, and vocals. The vocals are blended with synths, to make an unearthly effect. The form: after the vocals come in, it is a simple, three-note melody, repeated five times.

2. Petals is simple piece about the good feeling when we begin meditation or a healing practice. It feels like opening, and lifting, so Petals. The melody is vibraphones, with various tones & rhythms of drums, a fretless bass, synths and orchestral strings. It has an AABA’ form, meaning the first section you hear is repeated twice (AA), followed by a different section (B), then the “A” section again — but slightly different (A’). In all, it goes AABA’, interlude, AABA’, outro.

3. The Passing Storm: When I created this piece I was thinking about the turmoil that arises in whenever we become still, or when we set aside time to do something good for ourselves. After that initial good feeling, we think of 100 other things we “should” do instead. I created a drum kit that uses big bass drums and sticks, a slow synth, and several flute and Mellotron sounds. The intro melody is on fretless bass. Next, the full melody repeats three times: first time with flutes and Mellotron (like Beatles Strawberry Fields), second time even bigger, and third time broken down (no drums) with the flutes and fretless bass again.

4. Starlight Star Bright is about the clear skies and deep calm that come after the storm. After all that turmoil, we are able to slow down even more. It uses a harp sound with effects, a slow synth, and orchestral strings. It’s four chords, then a melody, then just the chords, then the melody again. Whenever I listen to this I continue to hear the melody after it stops playing. The first few times I heard it, I would check the project to make sure I hadn’t made a mistake, but it must be an aural illusion. Do you hear this too?

5. Path of Few: The career of an artist is not easy. No matter what level of success, there’s always a price. No matter what level of fame, there’s always some alone-ness. It takes courage to live one’s own dreams. I started playing bass because all the other kids played guitar. I continue to make music because I have to. This song features bass, and includes guitars, strings and synths. The guitar is my very first, a no-name that I’ve had since I was four years old. All the sounds in it work together to indicate a struggle, but a beautiful struggle. The form is AAA B AAA: 1 - bass melody (I use this term loosely); 2 - with guitars (two guitars, panned left and right, playing the same thing); 3 - add orchestral strings. 4 - the “B” section or bridge. 5 - (after the drum fill), with strings but no guitars; 6 - full with guitars and strings; 7 - the bass melody all by itself.

6. Stitch in Time began as an exercise in creating a piece of music without a tonal center, where changing one note changes the chord or changes the key. It features the orchestral strings, which are layered with synths and synth string sounds. The orchestral samples I used were too short (the notes ended before I wanted them to), so I had to stretch them. The form repeats four times, each time with different top-note voicings. It celebrates the idea that change is the only constant, or of staying balanced even when not on level ground. The title refers to the idea of a folding universe, and that space & time (or pitch & key) are not always as linear or constant as we believe them to be.

7. I wrote Shadows on the Mountain for my mom, thinking about a remote farm where I spent my early childhood (4-7 years old). It was on a mountain, at the end of a 5-mile dirt driveway. The nearest neighbor was a mile away, and there were no other people in sight. We had goats and chickens, and a huge vegetable garden, and an occasional trip to the store — at the nearest town, 45 miles away. It was truly quiet, and the nights were completely dark. I'm not sure if people get the opportunity to experience complete silence or complete darkness anymore, but it's a beautiful thing. I was too young to appreciate the beauty of it, but the serenity of that place has stayed with me, and I'm grateful for it now. It features my old no-name guitar, and also has fretless bass and orchestral strings. The form is ABAB C ABAB, so AB (the two melody sections), AB again (add strings), C (the bridge), ABAB (bass playing the “A” melody both times). I used to sit on our mountain, watching the trees and shadows dance on the other mountain. Sometimes they looked like animals, and sometimes I could see the same animals in the same trees: Shadows on the Mountain.

8. Pull Down the Sky is a melody that got stuck in my head while playing my old no-name guitar. It features guitar, and also has drums, finger cymbals, a sitar-like synth, and various other synths. The simple AB melody repeats 4 times (I believe). The form of repeating melodies comes from praise songs or hymns, and so the intensity grows each time it repeats. The title refers to the idea of pulling heaven down into me — or pulling the elevated consciousness or a higher vibration into my ordinary life (which in turn pulls me up). I actually originally arranged the piece without any guitar, but always felt like something was missing. Finally, after adding the guitar, the puzzle pieces fell easily into place.

9. Season in the Mist is for my grandparents, after what I thought was the last time I was going to see them alive. After I left their house, I broke down in tears and started singing this melody at the top of my lungs. The melody is fretless bass, with a flute-like synth and some other synths. The buzzy drone and the military-ish drums add to the idea that it’s a dirge or funeral march. It’s a simple melody that repeats over & over. The intro gives a taste of the melody, then we hear the full melody three times (first time medium, second time loud, third time soft). The title refers to being unsure of what comes after this life.

10. As Without So Within plays with the idea of things changing but staying the same. The melody repeats twice, but the third time it’s in a different mode (same melody shape, but in a different place); the fourth time, it’s back to the original mode. The effect is to go from a very bright & happy place to a very dark & creepy place, and then back to the happy place. Each time through the “happy” melody, it very subtly adds a harmony voice beneath the melody. The piece celebrates the idea that people are many-faceted, that it’s ok to look at your “dark side” (the act of looking transforms it), and that the stuff we experience outside us (circumstances, other people, etc.) is usually the same stuff we experience within ourselves.

11. Our Way Home is a simple piece that says this life is short, and “we’re on our way home”. The left guitar plays exactly the same thing for the entire song. The right guitar plays around it, going back and forth between the melody and other patterns. It uses drums, bass (fretless), guitars (old no-name), orchestral strings, some string synths & pads. There’s also a flute-ish sound that mimics the left guitar sometimes, and a tiny bell that plays the melody sometimes. The simple form is intro-melody-interlude-melody-interlude-melody, etc.

12. A Sacred Space is about the idea of entering a sacred space, like a church or temple. The sounds from outside seem to fade into the distance. Peaceful music is playing inside, music that just washes over us, without really making sense. This piece could be the first or last piece of the album, and from here it could cycle back to track 1. It uses several drum and tabla loops, an organ and some other odd sounds. It starts as two notes and two chords, which then build by raising the voicing (top note gets higher and higher) until it reaches a peak about 2/3 through, then the voicings drop back, and it ends on just one note. Closing credits, or a return to the beginning.

All music composed, arranged, performed, recorded and mixed by Jesse Stern. Love & thanks to my Jeane, parents, The Meditation Podcast listeners, James Bernard, Sara Griggs, Propellerhead Software (Reason), Dave Tough, XLN Audio (Addictive Drums), Rick Turner, Fender, Lexicon, McDSP, and the Sacred Spaces within us all.

About the Artist: Jesse Stern is a professional bassist, and multi-instrumentalist composer songwriter and producer, and the creator of the popular podcast, The Meditation Podcast.



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