music by Tom Sanderson
lyrics by Tom and Alan Sanderson
Explore the Mind Cavern
It’s the place your thoughts are born
Dreams, they flow like rivers
Intellect is slow to form
What makes you feel this way, freezing when life is here today?
Hurry to sit on the fence, spectator for your life’s events
What do you think you’ll find within the rivers of your mind?
In the Mind Cavern
In the Mind Cavern
Have you been to every chamber?
Do you really know what’s there?
Have you examined every object?
Walked every tunnel, everywhere?
Where are the turning points — the things that will define you?
And where are the chains — the things that will confine you?
And where are the crucibles — the things that will refine you?
Can you find them
In the Mind Cavern?
Over in the darkest corner,
Something you’d rather just forget
‘Cause it reveals your greatest weakness
Can you conceal your worst regret?
Or pull it from the darkness, and examine in the light
Does it help to hide this sorrow? Or is it good to keep in sight?
But it won’t go away; this memory will emerge again someday
From the Mind Cavern
From the Mind Cavern
Tom Sanderson: vocals, acoustic and electric piano, bass, drums
Alan Sanderson: vocals, guitar, mixing, mastering
Alan’s Production Notes
This song was extracted from Tom’s Mind Cavern. (Maybe “extracted” is the wrong verb. Should we instead say “teased out?,” “conjured?,” “summoned?,” “hurled?”) Anyway, it was his idea.
The first time I heard it was in a midi file which he emailed to me, and I loaded it into MuseScore. I thought it was a good tune, but maybe a little too peppy for its pensive name. He asked me if I had any ideas for lyrics, and my Mind Cavern was blank. It turns out that MuseScore was playing it at a tempo of 120 bpm, far faster than the 82 bpm which Tom intended. No wonder I thought it was so energetic and had such an incongruous title. Tom sent me his tracks and the first verse, and I had to bend my brain around the idea that the song was lentissimo, cavernous, and thoughtful.
Just like its title.
One morning I woke up with what became the third verse spawning in the rivers of my mind. I recorded it that morning, and at lunch a few hours later I wrote the second verse. Tom liked both, and quickly recorded some backing vocals for them. But I thought my verses made the song feel incomplete, so I added the deep-layered 3-part chorus between the verse to conceptually cap them off.
I consider this song to be a sort of Introvert’s Anthem, and I wonder whether many extroverts will really dig it. (You can’t please everyone.) This is not an attempt to create a new theory of mind — there are already too many of those — but it is a useful metaphor to describe the process of introspection: how to identify the major themes and defining moments in your life, how to deal with guilt. Someday we will know as we are known; for now it is hard enough to understand how we know ourselves.
A quick note about the production gear: Tom’s tracks were recorded on his Roland FA-06 and Tascam 24SD, which he maxed out the tracks on for this project. My tracks were done in Ardour 5.12 on Linux Mint 19.3. The guitar track made use of the FatFrog virtual amplifier, and the tremolo, chorus, and cabinet emulator plugins from Guitarix. Dragonfly Hall and Room reverbs were used, and the lead voices had the vintage tape delay plugin from Calf Studio Gear. Compressors, limiters and equalizer were all from Linux Studio Plugins. Many thanks to all of the developers, and to the good folks at LinuxMusicians for teaching me much about the craft and the tools.
Most of the sequence to this song came really quickly. It started sounding to me like Stevie Wonder’s early 70s – some of his more introspective songs, especially “Superwoman” and the title to one of his albums “Innervisions” probably influenced the working title. The instrument choices followed this early seventies inspiration. An interesting note about the sequence is that I used a synthesizer stereo-split voice called “Alan’s Pad.” Ironically, Alan’s pad didn’t come from Alan’s pad, but Tom’s pad.
After the quick start to the sequence, I had a melody idea and one verse worth of lyrics that I recorded after I exported the tracks to the Tascam machine. That was where my ideas pretty much stopped. I shared the tracks with Alan but in June, 2020 we were busy working on several collabortative projects and just didn’t have much time for “Mind Cavern.” Besides that, I just didn’t have any ideas.
I think part of what had me frustrated with “Mind Cavern” was brought to my attention lately. Because the piece was inspired by Stevie Wonder, I wanted it to sound like Stevie Wonder. There are at least two problems with this (1) Stevie is a virtuoso musician and vocalist and I cannot reproduce his unique voice (2) If I set my heart on composing music, why do I want it to sound exactly like Stevie when I could produce something like never before has been heard? I often get hung up on these two issues in making music, not specific to Stevie Wonder. I am not able to reproduce all the sounds that inspire me, which is frustrating, but I am able to make some new sounds perhaps previously uneard.
At any rate, Alan had the right idea for “Mind Cavern.” He wrote the second and third verse and later contributed a chorus and tremolo guitar. His mixing skills helped make this into a track I am pleased to have a part in. I am still not over being unable to channel the sound pallet of those that inspire me, but hopefully I can learn to love my own pallet, however modest my sonic paints.
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