A musician from Scotland has made an album out of ‘happy’ sounds sent to him during lockdown from friends around the world. Now, he’s giving it away in exchange for happy messages
In September 2020 Tommy Perman (above) contacted 50 friends around the world, asking them to send him a sound that makes them happy. Audio files began flowing into his inbox, from Australia, England, Germany, Holland, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, Scotland and the US.
The sounds he received were as diverse as the people who sent them, but Perman noticed some common themes: birdsong; the squeaks, purrs, snuffles and barks of people’s pets; ambient sounds of nature, such as water tugging at pebbles on a beach; quirky sounds from the home, such as door squeaks and dishwasher bleeps; and the sounds made in people’s favourite activities, including those from drawing and brewing cider.
With them, Perman – an artist and musician who lives in Kinross, Scotland – crafted a 20-track album, roughly 80 minutes of what he describes as gentle electronic and ambient music. He is now giving the album, Positive Interactions, away in exchange for happy messages, which he plans to use in a future version of the project.
“Like a lot of people, I felt very isolated and alone throughout the coronavirus crisis and I’ve relied on social media to stay connected,” Perman told Positive News. “But social media can be a pretty negative space. I came up with the idea for the project as an excuse to reach out to lots of my friends and to focus on happy things.”
I came up with the idea for the project as an excuse to reach out to lots of my friends and to focus on happy things
The contributors range from toddlers to older adults. “Through their sounds and messages, I was reminded of the different things sound and music can mean to us – a toddler intently exploring sounds of a xylophone with her dad, ‘grown-ups’ revelling in losing themselves while making music,” explained Perman.
“I often worked on the music late into the night, finding peace once I’d finally managed to get my kids to sleep. I absolutely loved creating my own sonic worlds to explore – much like the toddler – and sat for hours wrapped in comforting layers of sound, warmed with blankets of reverb.”
You can ‘buy’ the album by emailing a message about something that makes you happy to email@example.com You will then receive a download link.
The stories behind the sounds
Perman has also collected the stories behind the sounds on a website. A selection are below.
“This is the recording that sprang to mind when I read your email. It’s my daughter playing my xylophone, this time last year. So, she was 13 months old. Funny to hear her not talking […] she rarely stops chatting at present.”
– Jonnie, Stirling, Scotland
“The cow is a holy animal for some Hindu communities in India (and also the cause for a lot of unrest and polarisation). This is a man singing as he brings around a richly decorated cow seeking alms (food and money often). He came around our studio often and this was a very familiar sound before the pandemic. It is a sound I miss hearing these days.”
– Babitha, Bangalore, India
“I was out walking in the dusk the other night and heard something that I thought I’d send on for your Positive Interactions […] standing under a tree in the dark, listening to the owls chat and hoot at the bells, made me very happy indeed.”
– Rose, Boroughbridge, England
To find out more, visit positiveinteractions.space