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The Girl from Ipanema by Stan Gets & João Gilberto in the album Getz/Gilberto https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=N-TKOh0zsvU

Why does this song sound very calm, chill, non-attention-grabbing, non-energizing before the sax starts playing? I feel like I could sleep to it. How can I make music like this?

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  • I actually get a bit stressed out from not understanding the lyrics, feels like I only heard other versions of this song.
    – Emil
    Jul 14, 2023 at 6:39
  • @Emil The female vocals are in English. Jul 14, 2023 at 7:10

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Although this question is somewhat subjective there are objective elements that can be used to explain why it has that calm mellow feeling to it.

Style: This is Bossa Nova, a Brazilian style of music whose general characteristics are slow to medium tempos, fairly sparse rhythms with some syncopation, smooth jazzy harmony and consonant melodies.

Instrumentation: The piano is played very sparsely, the nylon string guitar provides rhythm, harmony and syncopation, the acoustic bass and drums play simple steady accompaniment. The saxophone plays a mellow jazzy solo and background lines. Although all of these instruments are capable of producing a bright harsh sound they are played here with a very soft, warm sound.

Vocals: Both the female and make male singers (Astrid Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim) are singing smoothly in a low register so there is no harshness to their voices.

If you want to create music in this style, study and listen to Bossa Nova. There are many other styles of music that have a similar relaxing and calming effect on the listener as well but that would be for another question.

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  • I am not entirely sure that low register necessarily means calm- I got the feeling of a burly man coming up behind me and whispering things in my ear, which I don't want. Interesting otherwise.
    – Emil
    Jul 14, 2023 at 6:59
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    @Emil Your comment is not related to music. This is not about someone sneaking up on you. Most vocalists have a mellower sound in their low register. Jul 14, 2023 at 7:12
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    @Emil You liking or not liking his delivery and using a word like “creepy” is subjective and irrelevant. This question is about the calm feeling of this music which I answered objectively, not based on whether I like it or not. I included a section about vocals so where do you get the idea that I don’t consider singing a part of the music? Jul 14, 2023 at 7:31
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    @Emil the word “calm” was used by the OP in his question, it was not my choice, Jul 14, 2023 at 7:35
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    @John Belzaguy: Yes. Also, the singers and the sax are close to the microphone, which makes them sound intimate. Even the piano is close-miked. (And it sounds as if there's an unusual damper being used.) There's very little vibrato in either the voices or the sax. They aren't trying to impress. There's no showiness or glitter. (I thought the question absurd: 'How can I make music I can sleep to?') Jul 14, 2023 at 8:11

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