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Day of the Zebra

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This started out as an ambient piece. Then, I broke my own rule and added drums and other percussion. Taking Paul's advice (see below), it's now a Cinematic Soundtrack, although what I know about composing soundtracks is even less than I know about composing Ambient. So, it is what it is ... more or less ... ambient rock synth prog soundtrack, not very Ex_Silentio. Another in my continuing series of tunes dedicated to the animal world. This one is about zebras, although the music is in no way an attempt at an African-flavored composition.

I have heard that animals live very much in the moment --- things are either good --- right now --- or they aren't. This is unlike the human animal, for whom a funny look or a disparaging remark from another human can ruin the whole day. We brood and we ponder. An animal's mood can flip-flop in an instant. I imagine that a typical savannah herbivore undergoes this good-bad switch on a daily basis, from moments of lethargic contentment to moments of full-on racing heart adrenaline surges. I tried to represent this quality in the start-stop arrangement.

6 Zebra 2 tracks, 2 EXSP24 bass tracks, 1 Addictive Drums track, a few random perc tracks

Thanks for listening. I am always up for a good critiquing, by the way.


Another zebra day. Savannah sunrise. Windless. The only truly quiet time of day. The heat and flies will not be long in coming. Two mares leave the huddle, and trudge down to the watering hole. Their foals begin to follow, but can't resist stopping to clash in a mock dominance battle, then run aimlessly, jumping awkwardly away from imaginary predators. The awkwardness will not last another month. Reflexes are being imprinted, and smooth, hard muscle is starting to erase the foals' babyish appearance. An industrious parade of roller dung beetles gets their attention, but only momentarily. The foals are quick learners. The rest of the herd moves listlessly toward the watering hole. A rustling in the tall grass beneath a nearby canopy interrupts the herd stallion's long drink. Ears go up, snorting sounds erupt from the herd, which turns in unblinking unison to face the canopy. Even the foals know to turn, then freeze, fighting their urge to run. The stallion makes a threatening charge. A ragged hyena lopes off, long tongue lolling between fearsome canines. A loner, feeling not quite up to a confrontation. It's too early to hunt. The day wears on. The rains have provided lush thickets of grass to forage. A tawny brown shape meanders off in the distance, but the herd remains placid. A while later, a mare spots the lioness prowling nearer, who signals her intent with a crouch, ears flattened. No match for the interloper, the herd is in coherent motion, a response to unseen signals quickly transmitted throughout the herd, perhaps a gesture, perhaps a subtle sound. The foals are quickly flanked by two mares. The herd pounds away, their blood injected with that strangely exhilarating mix of terror and joy --- the joy that arises from the mere exercise of unbridled power and agility. The lioness, spent, gives up the chase. It was just a whim, after all. Towards evening, a light breeze moves through the acacias, ruffling the mohawk manes of the herd. A hawk rides an updraft, silhouetted against the red ball sun, dying on the horizon, rippled by rising waves of heat. The herd gathers again, content, safe. How long will it last? Another zebra day.
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Song Stats
Hits: 3224
Comments: 38
Fans: 16
Plays: 129
Downloads: 124

Uploaded: May 03, 2009 - 08:53:14 PM
Last Updated: May 19, 2009 - 11:34:10 AM Last Played: Jan 22, 2018 - 10:01:27 AM
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LE 7, Audacity, Ozone 3, Zebra 2, Addictive Drums
Reinholt56 said 3241 days ago (May 4th, 2009)
Hi Duane......
This track is wonderful. I've only heard it one, as I write this, but I'm going to be listening to it many times during today.

It reminds me in some ways of Genesis and Van Gelis but with your sparkle and flare. The lead synth parts were to die for and the build up and quiet places were excellent.

As for genre. I don't know. It had Ambient elements and Rock elements, as you suggested, but something such as Cinematic Soundtrack or Filmscore, as it is trying to depict a specific theme (in your imagination). Doing this with the genre neatly sidesteps the musical genre, from one point of view.

All in all it was very professionally and tastefully done, playing, produciton and all.

Take care.

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Ex_Silentio said 3241 days ago (May 4th, 2009)
Hi, Paul.
The lead synths are, of course, penciled in. I probably "play" synth leads like a guitarist, although such subtleties elude me. I'm glad you liked it, my one piece for your ten. I don't know how you do it. Thanks much for the feedback.
Check out my latest song called Speak Memory
davajonah said 3241 days ago (May 4th, 2009)
This is magnificent. Genre wise, parts of it sound more proggy than ambient I suppose, but I care little for genres myself. It really does conjure up the images you've described in the backstory. [Beautifully written btw]

Superb mix. One for the pod!

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Ex_Silentio said 3241 days ago (May 4th, 2009)
Thanks, David.
I am so happy that you like it. I always feel like I'm flailing away. Thanks for the compliment on the writeup. It was a bit excessive for the medium, perhaps, but I enjoy writing, a nice break from technical stuff.
Check out my latest song called Speak Memory
T_Being_esq said 3241 days ago (May 4th, 2009)
I Must Just
The savannah dust from my hair. Very well put together. I should not worry to much about catagorisation. It is just a good tune. If it appeared on your album it would proberbly be a middle track, flanked by pure ambience.
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Ex_Silentio said 3241 days ago (May 4th, 2009)
I hear what you're saying, Martin. I am always self-conscious about the genre selection. No matter what I select, it always seems so pompous of me. I AM pompous, but I don't like to come off as being pompous. Heh. Anyway, I appreciate that you gave this a listen and added your thoughts.
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tokai said 3237 days ago (May 8th, 2009)
I am loving the drum part and the build up to it. A rock ambient piece, very tastefully executed. I think it has element of yes in places. Me thinks that the job of a fine guitarist would possibly take it to another level, just my bias mind.
You have a wonderful way of making music gel, a skill some of us lack. Perhaps you could make a living out of it?
A fine show sir, that bass is effective.
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Ex_Silentio said 3236 days ago (May 9th, 2009)
Are you offering your services
to pay some fine guitar on one of my tunes? That would be great, and it gives me some ideas. Hmmmm. Thanks for coming by Steve. I take your opinions very seriously, so your comments make me happy.
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VicDiesel said 3235 days ago (May 10th, 2009)
Your prog roots are showing
Right off the bat, this is not ambient: you change chords every other measure, than every other minute :-)

And the part halfway through with the solo and the drums is quite prog.

Altogether very enjoyable. You know how to make your music sound big.

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Ex_Silentio said 3234 days ago (May 11th, 2009)
Prog roots. Well, sure, I can believe that. Thanks, Vic.
Check out my latest song called Speak Memory
Wummimann said 3235 days ago (May 10th, 2009)
track, excellent story - very well elaborated!
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Ex_Silentio said 3234 days ago (May 11th, 2009)
Hi, Wummimann
I am pleasantly pleased that you like my forays into ambient and other forms. Much appreciated.
Check out my latest song called Speak Memory
FrozenCarrots said 3234 days ago (May 11th, 2009)
Love the feel
to this great piece of art.
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Ex_Silentio said 3234 days ago (May 11th, 2009)
A slight exaggeration
but I will certainly take it. Thanks FC (that's some name!). I like your avatar, by the way.
Check out my latest song called Speak Memory
Henke said 3233 days ago (May 12th, 2009)
Maybe it's because
I had some ear wax taken away from my ears today, but this sounds sweet alright!!! Yes, a great piece of art. I like this mix in your music - true ambient AND proggy rock or whatever. That is pushing the limits as we know them and it sure feels good to listen to! You do it so well too, no complaints :-)

Thanks and stay well!!

Check out my latest song called Summer (Promenade) (WIP)
Ex_Silentio said 3233 days ago (May 12th, 2009)
Henke, thanks for sharing!
Hahahaha. Nice. OK. Thanks for the kind words. I will have to disagree with you about pushing the limits, but we can argue some other time. It may be the 'whatever' genre. I'll see if the admins can add that. Not a bad idea, actually. It has a better ring than 'other.'
Check out my latest song called Speak Memory
Henke said 3230 days ago (May 15th, 2009)
Well, "whatever" genre, I think you ARE being much too modest about your own achievements, but if that makes you happy I won't argue too much with you... Just take care and stay well! /H
Check out my latest song called Summer (Promenade) (WIP)
drakonis said 3233 days ago (May 12th, 2009)
so many things it is not...
however, it *is* very engaging and elaborate, maybe the genre would be Cinematic Prog-rammatic music... definitely tells a mental story. And although I was absorbed by your vivid text description of the zebra-day, the music to me didn't have quite the same meaning in my brain (the adrenaline escape was more like a proud prance)... but that's just my brain, and certainly didn't detract from either the paragraph or the music, both of which I really enjoyed on their own. Several have mentioned, and I will echo (pun intended) that this sounds "BIG"... nice mix here, really nice space for everything.
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Ex_Silentio said 3233 days ago (May 12th, 2009)
Hi, Drakonis.
It's not just YOUR brain. Mine says the same thing about the "prance." I don't always agree with you, but here I think you are dead on. The tempo and feel are all wrong for adrenaline. That's what happens when the music precedes the story, and I didn't have a good story in mind concerning zebras prancing about on the savannah. Seems unlikely, in any case. I think your comment is very perceptive, and I appreciate it. I have learned something, which could be pared down to "you cannot fool all the listeners all the time (especially if one of the listeners is Drakonis)." Beyond that, I'm glad you liked the work. Thanks!
Check out my latest song called Speak Memory
kassia said 3228 days ago (May 17th, 2009)
great story
Well I've had this bookmarked since you posted it - sorry it took me so long to get here. What an incredible ambient piece. I so envy your skill at creating these. This is full of unexpected twists and turns - exactly as your story described. Although, the images that this brought to me as I closed my eyes and listened, were not quite so concrete as a dance. I saw black and white stripes and shapes, movement, one blending into the other, spinning until they blurred into brilliant color. When those drums come in - WOW. Your sound choices throughout the song are excellent. This is a wonderful piece. Perfect to get me going on this Sunday morning. Are you enjoying this heat wave we are having?
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Ex_Silentio said 3225 days ago (May 20th, 2009)
Hi, Kassia.
No apologies required, of course. I am always honored that you would listen to my work. And thanks for the thoughtful comment.
Check out my latest song called Speak Memory
rabittwhole said 3223 days ago (May 22nd, 2009)
very engaging
piece of work. Extremely well done and a very enjoyable listen!
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Ex_Silentio said 3218 days ago (May 27th, 2009)
Rabbitwhole (great name)
Thanks for giving this a listen.
Check out my latest song called Speak Memory
ktb said 3217 days ago (May 28th, 2009)
absolutely love the choices in synths you use. It has a very meditative ambiance to it (even with the drums). It energizes whilst bringing some calm and tranquility. Not an easy thing to explore in a composition. I also thought your narrative description was excellent. Both of them!
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Ex_Silentio said 3212 days ago (June 2nd, 2009)
Very nice comments! Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed the writeups. I got a little carried away, but ... you know ... sometimes the mood strikes.
Check out my latest song called Speak Memory
Char said 3211 days ago (June 3rd, 2009)
Such a very pretty animal.
I will listen more. I must leave to take of some urgent business. I promise I'll revisit and it will be my privilege to do so. Ooh, it got to the proud and joyful part. Claps are great idea here. You are phenomenal. These sketches are wonderful. Thanks.
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Ex_Silentio said 3205 days ago (June 9th, 2009)
Hi Char
Well, people often compliment me on my stunning good looks, but I'm pretty sure that my mug shot on the left there does me little in the way of justice ... oh, wait ... you meant the zebra, didn't you? Right. Sorry. Yes, zebras are indeed beautiful animals. There is beauty in MOST animals, not all, I fear. But then we judge from our own human animal perspective. What must they think of us, if anything? I'm glad you liked the tune, and thanks for coming by.
Check out my latest song called Speak Memory
Char said 3041 days ago (November 19th, 2009)
I love it. You painted a picture in sound. If you hadn't added the essay, I might have envisioned an island paradise or the North American continent before the settling by Europeans when there were few men over enormous land masses, when the world was young and wild. Thanks.
Check out my latest song called Bound, v2. w Music by Dirigent
michael2 said 3197 days ago (June 17th, 2009)
i think it works as ambient, experimental, cinematic, whatever... just sounds good to me. plus i'm loving the animal concept. i'm a sucker for dark soundscapes, and this is really working for me. very picturesque and vivid. thanks for the tune.
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Ex_Silentio said 3196 days ago (June 18th, 2009)
I'm glad you stopped by for a listen. Next song I think I will make while sitting in a courthouse, since you get such excellent results from it. Strange that I never thought of that.
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Narad said 3196 days ago (June 18th, 2009)
Brilliant !
Awesome track ! White wide beaches in dark golden freshets. Fantastic music ! I'm speechless.
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Ex_Silentio said 3169 days ago (July 15th, 2009)
Thanks Narad.
Very flattering. Much appreciated. Sorry for the late response.
Check out my latest song called Speak Memory
Parichayaka said 3196 days ago (June 18th, 2009)
There are parts in this soundtrack which I consider to be absolutely beautiful and wonderfully realized. The buildup in the beginning, the haunting soft synth solo in the beginning and between the rhythm parts. And although it has this stop and go quality, it's very enjoyable from beginning to the end. Even without a story, which honestly I didn't even need to read to enjoy (synths and wildlife - never thought of that, hmm) - the intensity and drama you create could have any source of inspiration - emotional, spiritual or 'animal' (not even a real word play...what am I talking about!).

Overall impressive and besides some synths which I can't help but associate with the late 80's early 90's, this is a soundtrack full of surprises and various beautiful musical ideas. Great display of talent here.
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Ex_Silentio said 3169 days ago (July 15th, 2009)
Hi Parichayaka
That is some comment coming from someone as talented as you. I'm honored. Sorry for the late reply. I've been remiss.
Check out my latest song called Speak Memory
Doug Somers said 3110 days ago (September 12th, 2009)
A nice departure
from your more standard work. I agree with Paul's comments and the drums and lead synth in the middle do have a prog rock quality when sandwiched by the calm before and after - not to mention the syncopation on the synths when they solo.

This is quite the journey and I enjoyed every moment as the action comes and goes, each time with a feeling unto itself without holdover from what came before (or as you say, living in the moment).

Very well constructed!

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Ex_Silentio said 3106 days ago (September 16th, 2009)
Hi Doug
I'm glad you took the time to listen to one of my oldies. I enjoyed this one. I'm glad you did too.
Check out my latest song called Speak Memory
PaulaMunk said 2982 days ago (January 18th, 2010)
I never
left a comment. You are a fine composer. You take me on journeys. I could listen to this over and over and hear new things and see beyond my four walls into a world of magnificent grace. Thank you.
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hackneybloke said 2473 days ago (June 11th, 2011)
i'm enjoying this immensely. it starts out all dreamy...then morphs into something more rocking. i love the sparse section at around 4.00...and then especially at 4.40....where it becomes very atmos.....and then it really takes off again - love the shakers into the bigger sound again. yes...it's ambient for a bit, then prog rock...then back again. i much prefer that to half an hour of sustained symphonic droning. this is busy and simple all at the same time. cool.
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