The next stage in the creation of an effective meditation or guided visualization is to record the music that sits behind the voice. This for me is a very separate process. I'm continually producing and recording pieces of music completely independent of a script or subject (before putting them away for later use). When I then need some music I will look through my library and select what I feel is most apt. Some tunes will work better with certain scripts and my final choice here is very much an intuitive one. For example, the refreshing uplifting feel of the music for the "Mind Clean" title meant that it suited that theme perfectly.
When I initially write the music for my MP3 downloads I do so on a guitar or keyboard. I find that slow tempos and lingering progressions are the most conducive to relaxation. When written, I will record the progression (i.e. chord sequence) before overdubbing it with a number of different melodies (on various instruments). I record on a Mac with Logic Pro software which I find very user friendly. Musically, I like to use lots of reverb to create a soothing ambience. I most enjoy this stage since I experience a real sense of artistic freedom as varying notes, melodies and tones assimilate and resonate. The eventual end result will be a 6-8 minute piece of recorded music that I will then file away until needed. With some of the Relaxed Flying Series titles I didn't even use any music at all - but instead real life airport and airplane sounds. And of course some very effective visualizations have simply been a lone voice. Some producers use 'binaural beats' which many believe have a greater impact on our mood or mental state. The key word here (as it is with most creative things) is 'believe'.
Recording A Hypnotic Voice
The next stage is to record myself reading the script. Ideally I'd like to record the script in one sitting, but invariably there will be odd lines that I need to do again. (I'm a little bit of a perfectionist here and probably re-do more lines then I need to!) I use a Shure SM7B microphone. SM7B's are great for voice-over work and are very popular in the talk-radio industry. Bizarrely enough Michael Jackson also used one of these microphones when he recorded 'Thriller'! I'm very interested in the tone of my voice and I like to get a very up, close and personal feel. Very rarely do I put any reverb on my voice. I like a clean, deep voice tone that tends to resonate more with the listener. There's a whole movement happening at the moment called 'ASMR' (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response). In layman's terms, ASMR is essentially a whispered way of talking which leads to a pleasant tingling in the brain. The effects of ASMR have not been scientifically tested and so it is only a 'claimed biological phenomenon'. But have you ever noticed how good it feels when someone whispers in your ear? For me this is simply the way I prefer to record my voice and is not necessarily the only way for effective results.
Arranging The Guided Visualization
Before I begin recording my voice I will loop my 6-8 minute piece of music three or four times so that it runs at about 30 minutes in length. This gives me plenty of time then to do the voice-over. After I have recorded the vocal I will then arrange the music that sits beneath my voice. I will take different layers of sound out, or add more as the script progresses. For example, if there is a relaxing countdown from 10 to 1, I might slowly take different instruments out or even decrease the volume so essentially one might hear only my voice by the time I say the number "1". This gives the effect of feeling deeply relaxed and connected with the subconscious part of the mind. Conversely, as an induction reaches its sometimes glorious conclusion the music may build to a crescendo. This of course also has the added affect of bringing the listener back to a normal waking state. I have no set rules for the shape and form of the music, it's more of an intuitive process that years of experience in musical production has given me.
Once the voice has been recorded and the music has been arranged, I may then 'cut and paste' odd poignant parts of the vocal and put them in other parts of the induction behind the main vocal. I'll use reverb on these parts and sometimes have a certain word or sentence coming out of just the left or right speaker / headphone. The idea here is to have suggestions sink even more deeply into the subconscious. You can hear this done to great effect on my "Rejuvenate" MP3. Some people have a fear of hypnosis because they feel they are going to be made to do something they don't want to do. That hypnotherapy can affect us this way is a myth. Listeners are conscious throughout the whole process and they will immediately 'wake-up' if they hear something untoward. i.e. "You will now rob a bank"! Trance-work can only assist you in doing what you already want to do. Now if you really did want to rob a bank…!
Relax, Listen, Change
Finally the MP3 will then be 'mastered'. This is a post-recording process where the levels and EQs of the MP3 are standardized so making the recording 'ok' to listen to on a number of different devices. e.g. iPod, radio, smart phone, home stereo. Ideally my downloads are best listened to through headphones so the listener can get the full stereo effect. But this is not imperative. Sometimes there will have to be a little bit of real life testing out in the field. This was certainly true with my 'Driving Range Coach' and 'Inflight-Relaxation' titles which are meant to be listened to whilst practicing golf or actually flying on an aircraft. A number of times after testing I've had to re-write sections and so re-record my voice before finally settling on the finished MP3s as they are today. As I have already mentioned earlier, with all my titles it's about getting a fine balance in bringing all these elements together. Experience (and my dad) has shown me that what seems to work well for me, generally works for other people too. And that is how I make my downloads.