Being an incurable insomniac all my life, I have always been on the lookout for tools to help me relax and fall to sleep. One of my all time favorite sounds for sleep has been the rain. Even as a young child and teenager, I would always look forward to incoming night time rain storms, as this meant I could open my bedroom window and enjoy the wonderful soothing sounds of the rain and blissfully drift off to sleep. Even in the coldest weather, I would crack open the window just enough so I could hear that wonderful white noise rain sound.
As I got older, I was constantly buying recordings of rain to play at night to help me sleep. One of the first recordings I bought as a teenager was in the 70’s and was on the old eight track tape format I found in the “sound effects” section of a record store. It was a really bad recording and had annoying wildlife sounds all through it. But it fueled the fire in my quest to find a great rain recording.
I think this fascination with sounds and how they affected people helped push me towards pursuing a career in music and sound production. And later as I became fascinated with white noise and all its sources, properties and benefits.
In the early 80’s while working for numerous recording studios as a composer and audio producer, I discovered white noise and realized the sound of the rain is really a white noise sound made by nature.
In 1990 I opened my own recording studio and one of my first personal projects was to record the “perfect” rain album. Nothing but pure blissful rich full stereo rain with no animal, traffic or other distracting sounds to degrade the recording. This was not a “commercial” client project, this was me. Finally after all the years, I was making the rain album I had always wanted and dreamed of. The perfect rain album for my own personal use – made just to help me go to sleep.
So one humid June afternoon as the afternoon Florida rains rolled in, I set my plan into action. I gathered my best microphones together, put them on mic stands, attached their cables to my recording console and took them out the back door of the studio onto a little covered patio area that faced out to the woods. (Luckily, my studio was way out in the boonies so I didn’t have to worry about traffic and “people” noises getting on my recording.) I set the mics apart as far as the cables would allow and pointed the mics in opposite directions to get good stereo separation. I was set! And just in time as a light sprinkling on rain was now beginning to fall. I was giddy with excitement!
I went back into the studio and hit the record button and begin to record my long awaited album. Two hours later the storm had finally rolled through and I brought in and dried off the recording equipment. Then I rewound my recording tape, sat behind the recording console and was ready to hear my masterpiece. I played the tape and thought to myself “I have finally done it! I have captured the perfect rain recording.”
Then it happened, what I heard shattered my dream. About 5 minutes into the recording a little rain frog had decided to get as close to the mic as he could and began to audition for American Idol in the loudest and longest song you have ever heard! He croaked all the way through the rest of my recording … for two hours. And about 30 minutes into the taping he was joined by some rude little bird who decided to chime in with his own vocal audition from a big crepe myrtle tree next to the studio. My perfect rain recording was ruined. I was devastated. But decided not to let a little rain frog get the best of me. The next rain to roll in would find me setting up the mics again to try all over again.
Long story even longer, I continued to record as many rain events as I could. And by the end of the summer, after probably 60 hours of recordings, I finally had my first version of Restful Rain. It was analog, only 30 minutes long (to fit on one side of an hour long cassette), and mixed down and mastered to a cassette, but it was perfect!
Now there have been many upgraded versions of this Restful Rain album since its humble analog beginnings in the early 90’s. The latest version is pure digital and almost 74 minutes of glorious rain sound and incorporates my 25 years experience with recording white noise nature sounds.
Listen to the soothing
I have learned much about nature recording since those early days 25 years ago. I look back and now remember fondly the little frog that helped teach me a great lesson. To get a great nature recording you must have patience, patience and more patience…
I still have trouble falling to sleep sometimes. And I still use my “perfect” Restful Rain album. But instead of an old clunky eight track tape or noisy cassette tape, it is now on my digital iPod. Who could have dreamed!?