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Soothing Sounds for Baby, Vol. 1

Raymond Scott

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Album Review

Designed for babies one to six months old, the first volume of Raymond Scott's dreamy, engaging Soothing Sounds for Baby series emphasizes soft synth tones, repetitive melodies, and relatively simple arrangements. Keeping in mind a young baby's attention span, Vol. 1 also contains shorter, more numerous pieces than the following albums. Vol. 1 begins on a minimal, hypnotic note with "Lullaby," an appropriately trance-inducing, 14-minute song featuring twinkly keyboard figures and some airy synths. The reverie continues with "Sleepy Time," which combines a delicate, drifting melody with a gently rhythmic bassline. As Soothing Sounds for Baby progresses, it grows livelier, more complex, and increasingly percussive. "Music Box" retains the hovering synth sound from earlier in the album, but sets it atop a perky rhythm. "Nursery Rhyme" is the most experimental track on the album, featuring a singsong melody along the lines of "Three Blind Mice" or "This Old Man" that jumps from key to key. Backed by a complex, syncopated rhythm and slightly atonal harmonies, as the song unfolds it becomes more improvised and spontaneous. Finally, "Tic Toc" takes the album's minimalism to its extreme, consisting of a clockwork, two-note melody that fades in and out of focus. As it explores sonic distance instead of melodic progression, the song achieves the same effect as the beginning of the album — hypnotic and very soothing indeed. With each listen, Soothing Sounds for Baby, Vol. 1 reveals something new, retaining its freshness for young and older babies alike.

Biography

Born: 10 September 1908 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Composer, bandleader, and inventor Raymond Scott was among the unheralded pioneers of contemporary experimental music, a figure whose genius and influence have seeped almost subliminally into the mass cultural consciousness. As a visionary whose name is largely unknown but whose music is immediately recognizable, Scott's was a career stuffed with contradictions: though his early work anticipated the breathless invention of bebop, his obsession with perfectionism and memorization was the very antithesis...
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