Step into Our Urban OasisRelax. Close your eyes. Imagine you are in the middle of a city. Cars are honking, people push past you on the way to meetings, children yell in the park across the street, a biker swerves to avoid pedestrians on the road.The natural flow of life around us can be hectic at times. We often don’t take the time to go inward and retreat from the chaos of urban life. We are constantly bombarded with information on screens, billboards, and signs that influence how we think and process information. Sometimes it can be hard to feel calm when there is so much on your mind. It can be difficult to know which way to go or how to deal with the little stressors that occur day to day. This song seeks to take the listener out of that chaotic space and into a more meditative and motivational space. It first starts with the city and then eases the listener slowly out of that environment. The new sounds are added in in a wave-like pattern to create a sense of calm that then builds up to deliver the listener back into the chaotic space by the end, but with a newfound sense of self and determination that renders the initial stressful environment almost irrelevant. It’s about taking a moment.It’s about breathing.It’s about you.Above: A music video pairing visual elements with the audio. It depicts a journey that parallels the one we want our listener to feel while experiencing the song: transported, in awe, and surrounded by calm beauty.Active design decisions were made at every step of song composition. The tempo of the song is slow, clocking in at only 60 beats per minute, which resembles a very slow heartbeat. The long, orchestral chords are meant to create a continuous, smooth soundscape that would wash over the listener. Within each musical phrase, and within the song itself as a whole, the listener experiences the building and releasing of tension through chords and volume fluctuations: a rise and fall that resembles the action of taking deep breaths, or the lulling of waves. After the chords were added, more layers of sounds were added, both to increase musical interest and symbolize the layers of thought or meditation one might enter. The bells in particular are rhythmic and ponderous, creating a mysterious and mystical mood.Finally, the song begins with the cityscape and fades into the first note, as if the listener were standing in the middle of a busy intersection and slowly enters a trance-like, deeply private state where the worries and noises of the outside world were no longer relevant. Towards the end, as the listener emerges from this meditative experience, he or she is re-introduced to the cityscape, (hopefully) more ready to tackle their worldly concerns.Above: Screenshots from Garage Band showing the different parts and build-up of instrumental layers (top), as well as the manual customization of volume to produce crescendo and decrescendo effects (bottom).