Cruising for Water

New piece. I played the guitar parts. The bass parts are also recorded live. All other parts are midi instruments,.

Happy to receive comments and criticism from any and all on any dimension – composition, mix, structure, etc. . Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

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Superb, Leon. My first impression is this has a beautifully similar feel to Esbjorn Svensson trio. Lovely melodies and integration of strings. What is the bass? Double bass? Fretless? Great sound. I’d love to know how you programme/play your drums and percussion, they sound very authentic to me.


Excellent tune. Sounds very balanced and all instruments sit very nicely in the mix. The whole tune breaths and progresses very naturally.

Hi Steve, thanks for listening. Never heard of Esbjorn Svensson Trio, so now I’ll have to look into them. The bass is a double bass, played by my son, the professional. I coerce him into playing for me when he’s home.

The drums are Native Instruments’ Studio Drummer, which I use most of the time. I usually tap in a basic kick and snare pattern on the keyboard, then tap in a cymbal or high hat pattern over it. I quantize it. I’ll copy the basic pattern(s) I’ve created to help me lay out the piece. After that, I’ll make the drum patterns more elaborate, varying from section to section, adding fills and ghost notes in the Cubase drum editor, and tweaking the mix within SD. That’s basically how I do it.

Hi HKO, thanks for listening and I appreciate your comments.

Well, the double bass is beautifully recorded. Esbjorn Svensson was a Swedish pianist, sadly no longer with us, dies young as a result of a scuba diving accident… Wonderfully accessible jazzy tunes. Band more commonly known as e.s.t. and there’s a ‘best of’ album called Retrospective.

I must try to take some time and experiment in making batter drum tracks.

I also meant to ask, where does the title come from?


Thanks for the e.s.t. Just found it on Spotify.

So the title is depicting another cinematic scene for the next album called “Soundtrack for the Collapse of Civilization”, which is nearly done, so who knows, another two years? I’m very slow.

The scene is somebody driving their gas-powered truck to find drinkable water, probably in the southwest of the USA. So, irony. The other songs I’ve posted in the last couple of years are also meant to be scenes within this soundtrack (such as “The Ice Shelf Retreats”, and “North Pole Summer Festival”). Anyway, gave me an excuse to write music!

Hi Leon, the composition is extremely smart.

I was surprised by the initial “switch on” of the van/car… @ 14s… asked myself if it was a forgotten mistake of your mix, and then… i understood. perhaps you can narrow the gap for dummies like me… or delete the first start… :slight_smile: Also, to add some movement, i would just pan right- left the car engine wav… perhaps also play with panning with the other instruments… until 28s.
Regarding the drums, i think that you are a little bit too shy. They add a nice groove to the beautiful melody and arrangements, so let’s them be little bit more present. I would pick the snare and the HHs.
Around 1m30s until 1m45s, there are some picking notes as candy (don’t exactly know what is the instrument - perhaps 2 instruments doubling). Love them… play with panning to again drive movement. if 2 instruments playing together the same notes, i would try panning 1 from left to right, the other opposite exactly the same way…

@2m14s, before a new verse… i would add a kind of pause - not silence, but some thing you have to create to let us breath… I was so beautiful… before the new part. (well… i’m doing the same thing often… too quick to jump to the next part, let’s correct this)

@2m22 until 2m45s, well the lead IS the lead… so my feeling is that you should push more the leads in front or lower the guitars. perhaps playing the same guitar 1 octave lower will be OK. I suggest that you shouldn’t have the same “tone” between the lead and the others here.
@3m28s, same remark , i’m earing like violins only, i propose to add cellos (same part) to add more meat to support again the powerful melody.

Ending is smart… and i love the dog.

Thank you for that one, one of the finest. What a track!

Many thanks, Stephan, it’s going to take me a while to digest these points, but it’s really great that you spent the time to listen so closely! Was actually thinking about your comment at 2m14s already, as my son (the bassist) had a similar reaction.

Again, thanks, I’ll go deeper into these.

Haha! I wondered if it was a climate crisis?Fallout thing. Trouble is, I love the picture of that pickup truck - maybe it could be converted to electric or hydrogen.

Having such satisfying and relaxing music with that title is scarier to me than having a doom laden dystopian piece.

(P.S. you may have to finish the album a lot quicker than in two years’ time… :grimacing:)

You have me laughing out loud! I didn’t want the album to be doom; rather how it might go, not as slowly as people think. There are always bright moments, even as civilization collapses. I can’t write apocalyptic music, it turns out. So I revert to slightly optimistic and humorous. Lots of angles to take in the slightly optimistic and humorous vein.

Stephan, here are some comments on your comments:

  1. About the truck sounds. After a short musical intro, the truck appears for the first time, the engine starts, and it drives off to the right. That is, I moved the panner to the right. In the middle, you hear the truck occupants get out and shut the doors, then you hear the sound of filling water jugs. Then, at the end, the truck comes in from the right and drives to the center (again I panned it). So what are you suggesting I do with that? I guess it’s not obvious what’s happening, but it’s just a little cinematic ambience.
  2. Drums - are you saying they are not loud enough throughout, or just the beginning?
  3. The picking notes: those are played in the violin which is left, the viola an octave lower, which is right, and the piccolo an octave higher, which is somewhat left. And I put them there as sort of standard orchestral arrangement, but I could move them. I haven’t normally moved instruments around dynamically except as an effect (usually something on a guitar).
  4. 2m14s - agree the transition is abrupt. Are you suggesting a beat or two of silence inserted in there? Or a hold? Or something else? Not sure how to solve this one.
  5. 2m28 to 2m45 - I think that’s the part you’re talking about. The oboe took the melody, and I think you’re saying the guitar is in the same range and too loud. I will lower the volume on the guitar part as you suggest.
  6. 3m28 - yes, this is the same as before, violin to left, viola octave lower to the right, piccolo octave higher and a little to the left. Should I increase the volume on the viola maybe?

Again, thanks a lot for all of these pointers. It really helps to have “extra ears”!

What a great track! I continue to really like your writing, performance, and production. I could listen to this one multiple times. As a bassist myself, your son is quite good. His part made me think of something involving Steve Rodby, Pat Metheny’s go to guy in the Pat Metheny Group. He also played with Paul McCandless from Oregon, and the wonderful Impossible Gentlemen. I mention all that because this song could fit nicely in any of those artist’s repertoire along with the e.s.t. nod from another comment.
I really wouldn’t change a thing. It all fit together really well. No problem in my mind at the 2:14 transition either. I wouldn’t change the mix, levels, or instrumentation at all.
Please keep sharing this fine music that you’re gifted enough to be making.


  1. Yes, little cinematic…true, but… my ears are telling me that in the beginning the truck is not moving to the far left, and in the end, not moving to the far right. My suggestion is that you go over center: to the far Left in the beginning and to the far Right in the end.
  2. Just a little bit louder throughout, but the main point is that you should use them in a more dynamic way to support the melody, for instance:
    Beginning is OK, don’t touch anything, @1m15, increase the volume of the snare only at the end of each bar until 1m40… Small touch, just to again add movement.
  3. My suggestion is to move them dynamically as you are doing for effect. I know it’s not conventional, not standard orchestral, but why not ?
  4. It was more on a hold… decreasing, and yes 1 or 2 beats max… not silence.
  5. 100%
  6. Yes, exactly… let’s increase the volume on the viola… or another way to get bold, like doubling the viola… but don’t go crazy…

Thank you, I think that is the objective of such a forum. I cannot do it for all tracks just because of my musical history. For instance, i simply can’t comment about pure Pop or Rock music or Blues… simply not my style… so for me it’s good or bad to listen too, that’s all what i can say.

I really like this piece. Very jazzy, I like it. This piece reminds me of this one “Bulan Di Asia” JavaJazz - Bulan Di Asia - YouTube. Well, of course they are very different, but I find that they have commonalities in certain respects. The most important being the musical intelligence of the respective composers.

The melodic lines of the flute parts are really well rendered and natural. Difficult to hear a VST here, it’s probably due to the quality of the writing and the arrangement. Moreover, there is a wealth of musical knowledge behind this writing.

I don’t hear anything that can irritate me or perplex me. Remarkable composition, excellent mixing. Early21 you are an excellent musician.

Thanks for sharing!

Hi Swetch, much appreciated! I’m familiar with Steve Rodby, and Oregon, but I haven’t heard of the Impossible Gentlemen… I will definitely check that out.

Stephan, thanks again, I understand them all now. Will take into consideration for next version.

Rene, many thanks for listening, and the kind words. Wish I knew someone who could play flute for me! But I think the Spitfire BBCSO instruments sound pretty good, although programming them in midi is challenging. Listening to Bulan Di Asia right now… very nice!