Tuesday, March 29, 2016

"Super Condensed" track list now available

Hi all, today we are launching a new feature / improvement to our stock music website www.Shockwave-Sound.com: The Super condensed view.

On any track listing (search result, genre browse, mood browse, etc.) you can now choose between the:

  • Standard - shows a Play button for all versions of tracks, with prices, plus description.
  • Condensed - shows only the main / full track version play button, and shows a bit of the description.
  • Super Condensed - NEW! - shows only a big Play button and the track title. Does not show additional versions / edits, no description, no details.

You can choose between these by clicking the "View" drop-down menu where indicated on the image:

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A couple of small improvements at Shockwave-Sound.com today

Hi all, today we have launched a couple of small upgrades / improvements to our music browsing process:

  1. In the list of music tracks, the "PLAY" button now changes to a "PAUSE" button for the currently playing track, so you can easily see which track is playing, and click the "pause" button to pause/stop the playing.
  2. We've added a "Tag this track" icon to the audio player area at the bottom of the page, so you can quickly and easily add the currently playing track (what you're hearing at that moment) to your "Tagged tracks" (it's like your Lightbox, or Wish list, for music tracks).
We hope this will be of help and will make using our site a little bit more pleasant and efficient.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Happy Birthday Song now available royalty-free

The Happy Birthday Song (Happy Birthday To You) is one of the most famous and most used, most sung compositions in contemporary history. Despite this, you haven't been able to find this song / melody as a royalty-free music download anywhere, until now.

Why? Because the melody itself has been in copyright. Or at least, somebody claimed copyright in it. And when the melody itself is in copyright, you can't use this melody for any kind of distribution or public performance, not even if you record your own version of it, without paying royalties to the owners of the composition.

For years we have been getting asked about this song here at Shockwave-Sound. Why don't you have this melody in your library? Well, now you have your answer. :) Warner/Chappel claimed the copyright in the melody.

However, in a recent development that happened throughout 2015 and early 2016, this melody has now been placed in the public domain by Warner/Chappel as judged by a federal judge.

Says Wikipedia about the Happy Birthday song: "American law professor Robert Brauneis, who extensively researched the song, concluded in 2010 that "It is almost certainly no longer under copyright." In 2013, based in large part on Brauneis's research, Good Morning to You Productions, a company producing a documentary about "Good Morning to All", sued Warner/Chappell for falsely claiming copyright to the song. In September 2015, a federal judge declared that the Warner/Chappell copyright claim was invalid, ruling that the copyright registration applied only to a specific piano arrangement of the song, and not to its lyrics and melody. In February 2016 Warner/Chappell settled for US $14 million and sent the song into the public domain."

Wikipedia further states: "In the European Union, the copyright of the song was set to expire no later than December 31, 2016."

As a result of these developments, we here at Shockwave-Sound.com are happy to announce probably the world's first royalty-free Happy Birthday To You recording. Composer/Producer Bjorn Lynne created two pretty simple, but nice sounding piano-only versions of this song and it is made available at Shockwave-Sound.com as of March 6, 2016.  There's a "lively piano" version and an "easy piano" version, and both are available with or without party noises, and a funny party toot at the end.

We also have a Happy Birthday Funk version in the works, which will be made available on the site in the next few days.

If you're in the EU, please be sure to wait until December 31, 2016 before you use this composition in public or in media projects.

If you're in the USA, you should be able to use it right now, without copyright fears.

And if you're in any other countries, please use information resources in your own country to determine if this composition is in copyright or in public domain in your country.

Monday, February 29, 2016

10 Unforgettable Electronic Movie Soundtracks

Most Hollywood films use orchestral arrangements in their scores to engage the audience and help express a wide range of emotions. But synthesisers and computer based music can offer an entirely new experience and enhance the film in many unpredictable ways. So here’s a list of 10 great movies with 10 great electronic music scores to add to your ultimate movie soundtrack playlist.

10. Run Lola Run (1998)

Lola’s boyfriend is in big trouble and the only way she can save his life is by running, sprinting and jogging across Berlin in pursuit of a huge stash of cash. The accompanying soundtrack drive’s the action forward with a wide range of acid beats, spikey synths and squelchy basslines. The Techno soundtrack was composed by the film’s director, Tom Tykwer. With more than a little help from Johnny Klimek and ’99 Red Balloons’ producer,  Rinehold Heil.

9. The Social Network (2010)

The story of Mark Zuckerberg’s rocky road to success as head honcho at Facebook is underscored by music from Atticus Ross and Nine Inch Nail’s Trent Reznor. The beautifully dark, post industrial electronica earned Reznor and Ross an Oscar for Best Original Soundtrack of 2010.

8. Beverley Hills Cop (1984)

Harold Faltermeyer’s indelible synth melody is as 80’s as a Rubik’s Cube, although far easier to play.
It chattered away behind Eddie Murphy’s Axel Foley as he attempts to track down the killer of his childhood pal, Mikey Tandino. The soundtrack to this comedy cop thriller opened the gates for a slew of music scores featuring contemporary 80’s instruments like the Yamaha DX7 and Roland Jupiter 8. All driven along by the robotic rhythms of classic Linn drum machine.

7. Forbidden Planet (1956)

The score for this science fiction epic was so experimental that MGM prohibited use of the term ‘music’ in the credits. Instead Bebe and Louis Barron’s ring modulated warblings were referred to as ‘electronic tonalities’. As neither of the avant-garde experimentalists were members of the Musician’s Union, this term avoided any union payments for the studio. But it also meant that this innovative soundtrack could never be nominated for an Academy Award. However, Forbidden Planet’s soundtrack is a rare gem and still perhaps the most unique sci-fi score ever produced.

6. Chariots of Fire (1981)

As Hitchcock once said. “If music and picture are doing the same thing, one of them is being wasted.”

Perhaps that explains the success of Chariots of Fire’s synth heavy electronic score. The melancholic melody line of the main theme is the polar opposite of the extreme excursion felt by the athletes on screen. Yet it somehow works perfectly with the visuals. Helped by the use of slow motion to stretch out the agony just a little further!

 Of course, there were no synthesisers around in 1924. So it was a bold decision to use electronic pioneer Vangelis as the film’s composer. But it paid off big time, winning the film an Oscar for Best Original Score of 1981.

5. Midnight Express (1978)

Before ‘Shawshank’, before ‘The Green Mile’, even before ‘Caged Heat’, there was a prison movie to beat all prison movies called ‘Midnight Express’. The harrowing story of Billy Hayes. An American student who attempted to smuggle 2kg of hashish out of Turkey and ended up spending 5 long years incarcerated in a Turkish prison-from-Hell.

The film’s director Alan Parker recruited Italian disco producer Giorgio Moroder to compose something along the lines of his recent smash hit with Donna Summer, I Feel Love. The result is a dark, incessant arpeggiated score that coils and slithers its way through the film like an angry snake. The Chase theme became a disco hit in its own right and earnt Moroder an Academy Award for Best Original Score of 1979.

4. Gone Girl (2014)

The music to this psychological thriller was the third collaboration between director, David Fincher and composers, Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor  (the previous two being ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo’ and the afore mentioned ‘The Social Network’).

Filcher’s vision for the music was to recreate an emotion he had felt after hearing muzak played at a recent chiropractor session. He described what he heard as ‘inauthentic’. A soothing, reassuring soundscape that in fact had quite the opposite effect. Leaving him feeling anxious and ill at ease.
The result was a soundtrack that included washes of beautiful tones and colours indispersed with spikey incongruous electronic noises and discordant notes. Unsettling to say the least, and another triumph for the pioneering composing team of Ross and Reznor.

3. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Although not wholly electronic, the score for A Clockwork Orange must get a mention because of its hugely influential role in the history of movie scores. Recorded in real time (there were no sequencers back then) on a bank of modular Moog synthesisers, these haunting renditions of well known classical pieces took on a maniacal life of their own as they resonated in the disturbed mind of protagonist Alex DeLarge, head of the Droogs played by Malcolm McDowell.

Composer Walter Carlos (who later became Wendy Carlos) came to the attention of the film’s director Stanley Kubrick after releasing an album of speeded up electronic chamber music called Switched On Bach in 1968. After contributing to the Clockwork Orange soundtrack, Carlos went on to record the score for the Disney film Tron in 1982.

2. Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

There couldn’t be a list of electronic music score composers without mentioning the master of them all, John Carpenter. His mid 70’s film soundtracks terraformed the entire film music landscape and were a huge influence, not only on movie soundtracks, but other genres too, like Synth Pop, the New Romantics and Post Punk.

As a director, he’s quoted as saying that the only reason he composed for his own films is because he was fast and cheap. But the reality is way beyond that. His stark synth driven instrumentals locked with the visuals in a unique tensile alliance. A bond that became so strong that you couldn’t imagine one without the other.

Christine, The Fog, Escape From New York, Halloween. Any one of these films could have appeared on the list. But ‘Assault’s insidious five note bassline has a way of getting inside your psyche. And just like the Street Thunder Gang. Once it’s broken in, it’s difficult to shift.

1. Blade Runner (1982)

Ridley Scott’s neo-noir sci-fi epic was by no means as successful on release as it has become since. It under performed in the US with critics calling it ‘plodding’ and lacking in pace. However, it has since become a cult classic and is was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry and heralded as being ‘culturally, historically and aesthetically significant.’ It is now regarded by critics (probably the same critics that earlier panned it) as being one of the best science fiction films ever made.

A large part of the success of Blade Runner can be attributed to its soundtrack. A glorious sweeping synthesised wash created and composed by Greek composer Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou. Better known to fans as Vangelis.

Vangelis began his career as a working musician in a covers band, moving on to become a member of the prog rock outfit
Aphrodite’s Child. As side projects he began composing film scores, later setting up a studio in London dedicated to his solo album work and a steady stream of movie soundtracks. This brought him to the attention of high profile film directors and in particular, David Puttman and Hugh Hudson who were making a film called Chariots of Fire. An Academy Award followed and the following year he collaborated with Ridley Scott on the music for Blade Runner.

The score is noted for capturing the isolation felt by replicant Rick Deckard (played by Harrison Ford) as he scours the dystopian landscape in search of Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer). A replicant who has escaped to Earth in an attempt to extend his life cycle and elude his ultimate fate of being ‘retired’.

After the release of the film, a disagreement led to Vangelis withholding permission for his performance of the music being released. The studio instead hired a group of musicians dubbed The New American Orchestra to record the official album release. It took 12 years before the disagreement was resolved. The composer’s own work was released in 1994.

As with all the movies on the list, it’s important that a composer has an affinity with the narrative and subject matter of the film. Vangelis’s love of sci-fi is evident in his score for Blade Runner. He is quoted as saying, "mythology, science and space exploration are subjects that have fascinated me since my early childhood. And they were always connected somehow with the music I write."
His Blade Runner soundtrack is still seen by many to be one of his greatest works.

Other films with electronic soundtracks include:

Drive (2011)
Escape From New York (1981)
Dredd (2012)
The Birds (1963)
Friday The 13th (1980)
Christine (1983)
PI (1998)
Requiem For A Dream (2000)
Sorcerer (1977)

Do you have any favourite Electronic film scores? Use the "Comments" field to discuss. Thanks!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Dan Morrissey - special Artist feature

If you're a regular user of Shockwave-Sound.com you've probably seen the name Dan Morrissey (full name Daniel Peter Morrissey) mentioned as the artist and songwriter for many of our tracks. In fact, with 742 tracks in our database at the time of writing, Dan is the most prolific contributor to our stock music catalog and his music spans hard rock, ambient, acoustic, electronic, experimental, light rock / pop-rock and more.

Dan Morrissey photo

Dan was born in Fulham, London England, but grew up in Wallington, Surrey (again, England), where Jeff Beck also lived. An only child, Dan spent his teens and early 20's working in music copyrighting and motor insurance, and by the time he was 23 he was in various original bands, touring around England and, somewhat remarkably - Turkey.

Dan has played and written with many rock bands through the years, including Fever 103, Raider, Atomgod, Tantric UK and God's Little Joke. These are not groups that most of us will have heard of, but Dan looks back with joy on these years and on playing gigs along with more famous outfits like King's X, Filter and Sevendust.

As Dan himself puts it, he is now "just past that age where schlepping around the country in vans and lugging gear" is just beyond him. He does, however still write a lot of amazing music and produces tracks in his own studio.

Dan, in his natural habitat

I caught up with Dan for a talk recently and got the chance to ask him about his life and his music.

- I've seen some prolific composers in my time, but you're quite possibly the musician with the most output I've ever known. Is there ever a time when you're not producing new music? You must be working on something new pretty much all the time, I guess?

Dan: "Music is both a love of mine, a deep passion that I rarely stop thinking about, and - and obsession. My brain whirs deep into the night sometimes, considering this phrase, that beat, this sound, that mixing technique. I sometimes wish I could just switch it off. I rarely stop recording music for longer than 2 days. Then I get an itching to get back to it. If I stop writing for very long, I feel as if water behind a dam is rising and ready to burst out. 

Recently I've been branching out into different styles of music, mainly piano based. This means that calluses on my fingers have actually gone a bit soft! But when I get back to playing guitar, I think there will be a tidal wave of new tunes, ready to break out."

Dan, rockin' out

- Besides the obvious source of income that the music represents for you, what else does composing music give you, on a more personal level?

"Aside from making a living doing what I love, music is a comfort. Like an old friend. It helps me relax sometimes. Other times it gets me motivated. I feel there are just so many tracks I could write and so little time. When I sit down at my computer, I could write a track in any one of 10 different styles. I have such a large palate of sounds available to me now, it's great to have such a wide spectrum of options.

Overall, though, writing just keeps me sane and provides an outlet for the machinations of my overactive mind. Sometimes it's hard to switch off."

- Do you have any favorite pieces that you've written and recorded?

Hmm, though question. It's very difficult to say which are my favorites. Sometimes I actually forget what I've written and only when I listen a year or so later, it all comes flooding back. Often, I can't quite imagine what inspired it's creation. It's almost like it was written by my identical twin in a parallel universe.

For guitar tracks, I'm quite proud of tracks like Sunblade, Incendiary, Nebula, Solar Winds and Forgive. They came out very nicely, I think. You're never sure of how the tracks will  sound when completed; whether they will summon the spirit or convey the emotion you had wanted them to.

This random method of composition can often help you avoid the kind of chordal and melodic cliches that we fall into on our main instrument. Just from all the years of playing what we enjoy and know we are capable of playing.

A vintage AV Telecaster and a G&L l200 bass

- You've obviously written a lot of music that ended up being used in probably thousands of different media projects including films, games, presentations and more. Have you noticed or found some sort of pattern or "typical" criteria, that people are looking for when they look for music for their projects? What do you think people go for, and what makes them choose one music track over the thousands of other tracks available to them?

"I'd say that all my music contains one or more of the following elements - Intensity, beauty, power, space and/or epic grandeur. At least I hope they contain some of those.

I often find that American clients prefer my guitar music to compositions written by their own countryman. Even though I'm playing music influenced by many many american bands, I still manage to impart an English perspective and style to the track. perhaps it's an element of either snotty English punk attitude or bands like Led Zeppelin that I find I can inject into my compositions."

- The electric guitar is usually quite a dominant element in your music, and you're obviously a highly skilled guitarist. But I notice that you also write and produce some music that doesn't involve guitar at all. What's the thinking behind that?

"Although I've been a guitarist for 30 years now, I learned piano and flute until I was about 13. I was also brought up on classical music, so I do love piano, plucked instruments like the harp and cimbalom, and orchestral strings. I enjoy the textures and the ease with which it's possible to create simple but emotive phrases. 

Guitar based tracks take a lot more intense internal drive and fiery passion to record. It's very nice sometimes to just sit down at a keyboard and kinda throw your hands down to see what happens. Beautiful moods and heart wrenching emotions can be created and reflected fairly easily like this, I find."

An Ibanez JS1000 and a Squier Thinline chambered telecaster

- Let's say you're just sitting down to do some work - typically, where do you start? Do you just switch everything on, place the guitar in your lap and start experimenting until some ideas for a melody comes up?

"Yes. I just plug in, go through some guitar sounds on my Kemper amp and see what happens. Or alternatively, get a cool drum groove happening. Usually something will happen within 10 minutes, otherwise I'll change instruments. If nothing starts evolving fairly quickly, I might stop for a while, for fear of forcing creativity. I am not, fortunately, dogged with writers block very often. I can get something interesting going quite often, and fairly swiftly. 

That's not to say that everything I record is great. Very far from it. But I feel you have to clear the way of dross for the more inspired music to spring forth in its full glory. Does that make sense? I hope so.

Can you remember the first time you were in touch with Shockwave-Sound.com and if so, do you have any particular memories of that?

I've been working with Shockwave-Sound.com for a good while now. You seem to care about and connect with your composers much better than most companies. Most library music companies will treat you like just another number, one of the many thousands, usually. But Shockwave-Sound.com is a nice company to work with. Very personable, enthusiastic, dedicated and efficient. I always appreciate the massive amounts of sheer hard work you put into every project. I'm very honored and happy that you take a deep involvement in my music and give me in-depth feedback. It can be a faceless business we're in and often, getting our music out there is a thankless task. Shockwave-Sound.com makes this job more rewarding all round, so I'm very grateful for that.

- Thanks for that, Dan! Now, do you also write bespoke music for projects "to order", or do you now only write for stock music / production music catalogues?

I write for many different projects. Of course, it's mostly for production music purposes and gets used around the world for an array of different projects - from beer ads and martial arts troupes, to talk sport radio, motorsports, extreme sports, magicians' sites and "Babestation", of all things!

Some times I get asked to write little pieces, given a specific brief and also record and co-write songs and mix vocals for a fairly successful Texas management company, for the various up and coming artists he has under his wing. These are mainly pop-rock acts from the USA and Australia.

I love instrumental music and most of what I do is exactly that, but songs are really where my heart lies. Working with vocals adds another dimension of power and meaning to music. I'm very lucky to still be able to do this, with my recording project God's Little Joke, despite the fact that we don't tour any more.

God's Little Joke. Dan Morrissey fourth from left.

- I'm guessing you have a few different guitars, do you want to say a bit about them, and which one(s) is/are your favourite axe(s)?

I have a Vintage AV2 Icon Telecaster i e-tuning. It has a very low pickup output and thus great tone. Very responsive to fingers and picking velocities. It's great for country and blues stuff.

My workhorse guitars are a Dean Doltero Braziliaburst and a Squier chambered Thinline-style Tele for drop D chunky rock tracks. A Walden acoustic which has a great resonant, room-filling sound. An Ibanez JS1000 for when I'm in the mood for some improvised lead playing - it just makes me play better, somehow. It's also the only guitar I have with a tremolo arm.

And last, but not least, a PRS SE Clint Lowery for super detuned, chuggy metal tracks. Personally I don't like 7-strings guitars, so the SE plays fantastically in that lower register. A brilliant guitar for the money spent.

Traben Neo Ltd bass, PRS SE Clint Lowery and Dean Soltero Braziliaburst

- Can you tell us a little bit about your recording setup, e.g. which sequencer / digital audio workstation you're using to record and edit your stuff, and which instruments / plugins / virtual instruments / keyboards you use most in your work?

I use Logic 9, an RME Fireface 400 audio interface, and Yamaha HS80 monitors, which are absolutely fantastic. By far the best I've heard in their price range. I also use a Focusrite ISA One preamp and a myriad of software plug-ins. Lots of Waves plugs, mainly for compressors and mixing vocals, when I need to, Spitfire Audio harp and orchestra samples, really fantastic and unique. Sample Logic, Soundiron and 8dio stuff, which all work in Native Instruments Kontakt Player. I also use some Rob Papen and UH-E synths and Spectrasonics RMX and Trillian plugins. 

Izotop provide my mastering software. Ozone 7 is a great tool for us non-mastering engineers, with which to polish up and add punch and a pro sheen to the tracks.

One of my best buys from recent years is the Kemper profiling amp. An astounding and amazing piece of kit. Truly a wonder of modern technology! Through this wonderful object I can obtain the sound of over a thousand different amplifiers. And it takes up a great deal less space! When I sold my treasured '82 Marshall JCM 800 split channel head, I went to a JMP guitar preamp... but then came the Kemper and I've not looked back since.

You gotta have some pedals!

- What about your Piano sounds; where do you typically get the samples/sounds for that?

For piano sounds, recently I use Native Instruments-The Giant, 8dio's 1990 Prepared Piano, Native Instruments - Una Corda, and Soundiron's Emotional Piano.

- With all that time spent writing and recording music, do you ever get a chance to simply listen to music?

I've noticed that the time I have to actually listen has badly diminished over the last 5 years or so. It's a bit tragic really, but I feel I have so much music to write. Some times I just have to make myself stop, relax and absorb someone else's creative spark. My CD and record collection has gone from about a thousand vinyl and a thousand CD's, right down to about 300 CD's now. I realized I was hardly touching most of them and thus wouldn't miss them that much.

Mostly, I listen to music in the car. It's a great way to be able to go on a musical journey whilst also on a geographical one! They enhance and compliment each other very nicely, I've found.

- What are some of your favorite artists?

Hmm, so many influences. I suppose, in some kind of rough chronological order, I'd say Beethoven and Rossini from my childhood and the influence of my parents.

Then came Abba, Queen, XTC, Blondie, The Stones, Led Zeppelin, UFO, early Whitesnake, Rush, Aerosmith, Toto, Thin Lizzy, Jourrney, Van Halen, Black Sabbath, and many, many hair metal bands who are often unlistenable in this day and age!

Then on to Pearl Jam, King's X, Alice in Chains, Killing Joke, Quicksand, Nine Inch Nails, Our Lady Peace, Flyleaf and Imogen Heap. And perhaps the top of the pile - Tool, a truly terrifying band. I just hope they start recording again soon. They've been away far too long.

Tool, one of Dan's favorites and inspirations

Some of my favorite guitar players would include George Lynch, Alex Lifeson, Jimmy Page, Joe Satriani, Gary Moore, Neal Schon and Steve Lukather. But I admire thousands of players, I really could go on and on.

- Finally before I leave you alone and let you get back to your recording, Dan -- Would you have any advice or guidance for a young music writer just starting out on a long journey, trying to make a living on writing music? Any do's and dont's?

  • I'd say - Listen to all sorts of bands and music, even if it's just once. 
  • Take on board what other musicians tell you, and if you can find a mentor, listen hard to what that person says. 
  • Always go with your heart. 
  • Learn to play what you want to hear.
  • Practice until your hands and your head hurt.
  • Play along with anything that comes on to your TV: Commercials, jingles, soundtracks. It's all good training for the ears. 
  • Never make music just to please others - you'll lose your soul.
  • Gain as much experience as humanly possible.
  • Try to find a balance in your playing, between technique and gut instinct, and you might find yourself half way to brilliance.
  • Commercial success is not what makes a musician great... or happy.

Thank you for those words of wisdom, Dan! And thanks for taking the time to speak with us. It's been a pleasure.

For those who wish to check out the work of Dan Morrissey, you can hear all of his available production music catalog here: https://www.shockwave-sound.com/browse/artist/dan-morrissey

Dan also has 21 solo albums out for sale via CDBaby.com. Here are just 4 of them:

Four of Dan Morrissey's solo albums, available via CDBaby.com