Canada Sound 150: A Parade of Street Sweepers

Canada Sound 150 is a very interesting project sponsored by CBC. The idea is that Canadians submit actual sound snippets to the Canada Sound site  to inspire/challenge songwriters to use these audio clips as the basis for a song.  The hope is that “Canadian musicians create the ultimate national soundtrack.” Indeed, interesting sounds have been submitted: the sound of KD as its leaves box and leaps into boiling water, the sizzle of bacon, the sound of a cottage door closing, loons…..

…A Little about the Song
(Click here to hear it )
When I was thinking about which sound, I considered that I am a singer-songwriter in Regina, a prairie city. I really wanted to write/build a song around a sound that is—if not unique to my city—is at least very common here.  I settled upon the sound of a street sweeper. Prairie cities are naturally dusty; they are often oases within surrounding sandy prairie. Further, Regina does not use much salt for winter traction, as salt generally will not melt ice below -15C, which is nothing for a prairie winter. Regina uses a sand/salt combination….so more sand on the roads. Hence, spring cleaning in Regina involves not just one, but a parade of street sweepers—several in a row that go up and down, up and down, up and down your street. Other cities have them as well, though they seem not quite as springtime ubiquitous as on prairie city streets.

So, I wrote this song in a way that literally describes the “Parade of Street Sweepers” that spring clean my street. You may notice that the intro gradually builds in volume, as though you were watching a parade as its gets closer and closer.

…A Little about the Street Sweeping Sound

  • I got up really early on the assigned May morning when the street sweepers were coming and recorded their brushing sound on my own street. (Yes, that is the actual street sweeper in the pic)
  • The machine upon which the brushes rest has a loud hum, no matter how I recorded the sounds, so I added a little bit of a shaker (just a tad) to the sample in order to hear the brushing a little more clearly
  • I used the Abelton Live music production software to create my song, “A Parade of Street Sweepers.” As part of Ableton, I used the Simpler program to import and pitch the street sweeping sound; I also a little resonance through auto-filter. I used the sound as it as a kind of a bass sound in the song
  • Having said all that, this is my first try at music production. I have released two CDs and am about to release my third “I Don’t Do Lazy Like That.” Each CD was professionally produced by Ross Nykiforuk, and my latest was professionally mastered at Carvalho Mastering in TO. This was an interesting challenge posed by Canada Sound 150, and I am glad that I accepted it, even knowing it was my first attempt at music production.

….The Lyrics: A Parade of Street Sweepers
Music & Lyrics by Scott Anthony Andrews 2017

Swift swishing ground, brushing round and round
Winter sand whisks away
All in the row, these moving brooms go
Sweepin’ and vacuumin,’ then wash the concrete
A parade of street sweepers spring clean my street
A parade of street sweepers spring clean my street
Circling back again, looping round and then
Meandering past
A bristling barrage, a dusty entourage
Sweepin’ and vacuumin,’ then wash the concrete
A parade of street sweepers spring clean my street
A parade of street sweepers spring clean my street
…and there you have it; my contribution to Canada Sound 150.