A brown acoustic guitar

How we make music

Hi, I’m Bill, and I do the audio production for our Evergrace stories. That means I put together all of the vocal recordings, music and sound effects for our stories, and make it sound as good as possible. I make sure everything is at the right volume--not too loud or soft--and that all the music and sound effects fit and complement the story.

Music plays an important part in our stories, and one of the best bits of my job is writing and recording the music for each episode.

Have you ever seen a movie where the music is just exactly the right piece of music for that scene?

Well that’s what I try to do with the music in our stories. When I was younger I spent way too much time putting together playlists for any and every occasion: driving playlists, lawn-mowing playlists, dinner playlists, party playlists, and my favourite: sleep playlists. I loved drifting off to sleep listening to mellow classical music or ambient electronic pieces.

When one of our writers shows me a new story, the first thing I ask myself is ‘What does this story sound like?’ Does it sound funny and quirky like ‘Rabbit On’? Or funky and groovy like ‘A Sweet Savour’ and ‘Build ‘em Up’? Futuristic and sci-fi like ‘Alice’s Bad Day’? Or peaceful and calm, like ‘Gentle Bluebird’? When I read the script for Joe’s story ‘Good Thinking’, I immediately imagined something mysterious, intriguing, exotic and exciting, while ‘The Olden Days’ obviously called for an olde-time-y sound, complete with gramophone crackle and trebly tone.

Although the music is important, it always takes second place to the story itself.

The music needs to fit in and around the words of the story, so there’s a lot of adjusting and fine-tuning: I might need to shift this vocal line half a second earlier, or remove this guitar bit so we can hear that word, or remove the free-jazz odyssey sax solo altogether…

The music is built around the narration so as not to obscure any of the words, and the narration gets finessed to fit in the gaps of the music, while still retaining a natural flow and pace. It’s a bit of a process, but the result is worth the effort.

My favourite Evergrace music

One of my favourite pieces of Evergrace music is from ‘The Best Maker’--it starts at 3:34 if you want to have a listen. This story contemplates the temporary nature of things on Earth, contrasting it to the eternal creative power of God. Joe talks about the tide creeping up a beach and slowly washing away a sandcastle--the perfect image of impermanence. I tried to capture this quality in the music by using an ethereal sounding synth with a melody line that flows up and down, like a wave washing and receding on the shoreline. For the second part, when Joe discusses God’s eternal handiwork, I used a more natural, solid sounding piano with a melody that twinkles like God’s stars.

Some of our episodes have real songs too, written by Joe, Esther or me, like the campfire song from 'Bonfire', or the song about sunshine and rain from 'Gardening with Bill', and I like to imagine our listeners singing along with Mrs Jones in ‘A Sweet Savour’ and ‘Build ‘em up.’

There’s so much that goes into an Evergrace story, and music is just one part. But I think back to when I was younger, drifting off to sleep while listening to the music that I loved, and I hope that our music and stories can be just as memorable and meaningful to our listeners.

Like we say in our episode Music, it really is one of God’s great gifts.

Bill outside under the trees and smiling :)

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