Wednesday, December 23, 2015

From the Mind to the Page: A Composer’s Tips for Optimizing your Creative Process: Part 2


By Lukas Stanley

If you haven’t already read Part One of this article, I would recommend reading that first. It can be found here: http://blog.shockwave-sound.com/2015/07/from-mind-to-page-composers-tips-for.html

In Part One, I discussed how to make the most of your creativity by effectively setting a writing schedule that coincides with your creative peaks during the day, having a plan when you sit down to compose, and how to go about setting up some of the fundamentals in a new piece of music. But there are more ways to enhance your creative output both in quality and quantity than just having a schedule and picking what key to write a piece in.






In this article, Part 2, I will discuss a topic that plagues composers, young and experienced alike, without effective strategies to combat them: The pre-compositional process. I will also give a disclaimer here that I a primarily create art music, although many of these strategies could easily be applied to commercial music or any other genre.

Pre-Composition

Let’s get down to it. I have some bad habits as a composer, habits that make it difficult sometimes to write music. Hopefully this article is a place where you can learn from my mistakes, because I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out how to write better quality music more efficiently. I have found myself resorting, in the past, to sitting down with pencil (or computer mouse) in hand, blank staves in front of me, waiting expectantly for a good idea to jump out of my head onto the page. As if I’m going to start writing notes in measure one, write them in order until the piece is over, and have a satisfactory piece of music sitting in front of me. If you have ever tried this you will probably agree that it is a difficult way to get the creative juices flowing. What you need to start is a concept, an overarching idea, of what the project looks like. The more ideas you can get down in this stage, called the “pre-compositional process,” the less work you have to do when actually writing the music out and getting to that final product. Below are seven strategies that I have collected from professors, friends, and my own experiences on how to pre-compose. I have tried all of these to varying degrees of success, but not every process works for every composer, or even for every piece of music, so I’m sharing all of them with you in hopes that at least one might make you a better creator of sound.



1. Graphic Overview

Have you ever found yourself with a really great idea for a piece of music, but by the time you start writing it the initial idea starts to lose focus? If I were a music doctor, I would probably diagnose you with a forethought deficiency. One method of pre-composition that I have found to be particularly effective at combating this is a graphical overview. This is a really good way to get down a large quantity of general ideas, without becoming bogged down by the specificity of melodic or harmonic plans. You can use lines and other symbols to indicate instruments, register, textures, and essentially any other musical components that you think of, over a linear timeline. This way you can see the shape of a whole piece from the start, and then gradually fill in specific notes, and work gradually towards a final piece of music. This is also a common technique used in the analysis of 20th century art music, because textures and large formal ideas are often easily represented by chronological graphical representation. An example of such that I found useful in the past can be seen in this visual analysis of Stockhausen’s Gesang der Jünglinge (1956), uploaded to YouTube by user carlintuitive: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7HD-95knVQ

2. Word Sketch

A word sketch is something that works well for people who organize their thoughts better in writing than in images, although this method can easily be combined with a graphic sketch. This method involves creating a written outline of a piece, identifying key sections of the piece and subsequent detail in as much depth as you need. For example, you might indicate under a section titled “Development” that the strings enter with an ominous diminished chord while the trumpet plays a blaring melody in the upper register. This particular syntax does not indicate specific notes or harmonies, but it does evoke a clear musical image and mood that will be easily recalled when you are filling in all the details later.

3. Sample Mock-up

This method of precomposition is different than the others listed in this article because it relies on using pre-existing music to create new musical forms. Essentially what this method accomplishes is the creation of a temp track for your music. Begin by thinking of what kind of mood or style of music you would like to evoke with your own piece. Then find a piece of music that already accomplishes this. Cut an excerpt that represents the duration you want for your own piece from this one into your favorite digital audio workstation (DAW).




Continue in this manner for each section of your piece and splice them together with crossfades or other appropriate transitions, and in no time you can have an overview of the shape of the piece you want to create. This is a very fast way to work, and to draw clear inspiration from existing music that you enjoy and wish to emulate. The risk of this method is the same as working with any temp track: it is easy to become limited by the pre-existing musical materials. If you use this method, use it only as a quick, initial step into something that involves more of your original content.

4. Emotive overview

Similar to a word sketch, an emotive overview is something that I have used specifically for collaborative projects. For example, if I were writing a five minute cue in conjunction with a visual media (film or TV), how the music makes the listener feel is going to be very important. If they should feel at ease, stressed out, pumped up, etc., these are all emotive cues that are vital to take into account during the pre-compositional process. Create a sequential map of how the audience should feel over the given duration and make some decisions on how you are going to get there, particularly if the changes in mood are abrupt or there are a lot of them. This also holds true for concert music. In the absence of a multimedia presentation (i.e. traditional concert music), the emotive content almost needs to be more blatant because there aren’t visuals enforcing extra-musical ideas on the observers.

5. Motivic Outline

Jumping right into writing some music down is great if you just came up with a great melody or musical fragment. How you take that motive and manipulate it over time though, is what separates amateur music from professional music. Even a short motive of four notes, when properly placed temporally and masterfully manipulated can drive an entire piece of music. If you don’t believe me, listen to the first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. So what you can do is take your motive, and make a list of all the possible ways to manipulate it: transpositions, reordering of notes, retrograde, inversions, rhythmic expansions and contractions, etc. Decide on what versions of the motive you like and how you want to present them over time. Whether you are writing EDM, indie-rock, or neo-classical art music, melody is going to be a driving factor and having a clear picture of how to treat it over time is something to think about up front. This will save you many headaches as you set out to write.




6. Meet with Performers

If you are writing concert music, as I primarily do, meet with performers that play the instruments you are writing for, particularly if you are not familiar with the instruments. This is a good opportunity to build connections and learn what different performers are capable of, because in the rapidly expanding world of extended techniques there are an infinite number of sonic possibilities for instrumentalists. Not only will you be able to test some preliminary compositional ideas with them, but the collaborative nature of such a meeting might also provide you with further inspiration and direction on a piece of music. I have found this method to be particularly useful in my own experience, having recently written a piece for solo bassoon this way. It was severely lacking in direction, but then I met with a bassoonist, talked over some ideas I had for the piece, and within 24 hours the entire thing had been written.




7. Brainstorming

A lot of what has already been said in this article about the pre-compositional process could be categorized as “brainstorming.” However, going beyond strategies for starting to write a piece, actually brain-storming should not be overlooked. Give yourself enough time without distraction to just think about music. Let your mind wander and have liberty to stumble upon interesting inspirations and ideas. In a world that moves very fast technologically, we are often too overwhelmed by notifications, emails, and deadlines to just stop and think for a few minutes. In part one of this article, I talked about how Tchaikovsky would go on a walk every morning, feeding the birds and enjoying nature as he gathered compositional inspiration. It was an integral step in his pre-compositional process. I would highly recommend doing something of similar effect – it will clear the mind in a way that more easily permits creativity. I can almost guarantee that you will find yourself writing more effective music if you do this.

A Few Tips

Don’t spend too much time on this part of the process. If you can, get it all out in one sitting. Breaking up a pre-compositional session might result in losing a train of thought that could take days or weeks to get back, if at all.

Pre-writing is also a great anti-writer’s block strategy. If the piece is well-laid out ahead of time, it’s going to be a lot less likely that you will hit a wall and not know what to do. 

Don’t be afraid of trial and error. One of the best parts about living in the digital age is the flexibility we have when it comes to creativity. If you want to hear what two melodic ideas sound like when they are overlapped, just drag them on top of each other in your DAW or engraving software and play it back. It takes virtually no time at all, and simply experimenting with positioning, layering, and effects can sometimes lead to really interesting and unexpected results. Chances are, no one else is watching you compose. If you end up with something that sounds like garbage, just Ctrl+Z and try something else, no harm done. 

I hope that you have found some new strategies here to begin writing your own music and I wish you the best of luck in your compositional endeavors!



About the Author: Lukas Stanley is a composer, violist, and music educator in Michigan. As an active composer since 2006, his works are written primarily for local concert performances. However, he is also passionate about creating new music for film, video games, and other collaborative projects. To find out more or to contact Lukas, visit his website at www.lukasstanley.com

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Mechanical Rights administration and stock music / production music

As I'm writing this article, my target audience is composers / musicians who would like to get into the business of writing music for stock music / production music, and who does not yet fully understand the way in which the administration of your Mechanical Rights through an organization such as GEMA, MCPS, STEMRA etc. basically prevents you from being able to sell / license your music as stock music.

To manufacture a disc that contains music, you need to obtain the Mechanical Rights.

First of all, what are Mechanical Rights administration organizations?


Many composers, at one time or another, decides to join one or more societies or organizations that help them to police and administer their rights as a composer. Such organizations include ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, PRS, MCPS, GEMA, SIAE, BUMA/STEMRA, TONO, APRA and many others.

Some of these organizations administer Performing Rights (meaning your right to some income when your music is performed in public or broadcast on TV/Radio), whilst other organizations administer Mechanical Rights (meaning your right to some income when your music is duplicated on physical media such as DVD, Blu-Ray, CD).

Then there are some organizations that administer both Performing Rights and Mechanical Rights.

Mechanical Rights is where the conflict with stock music / production music happens.Why? Because the license sold by the stock music website / production music library overlaps with the exclusive administration that you have assigned to the Mechanical Rights organization when you joined them as a member.

When a stock music site / production music library sells a track to a customer, they sell a license which allows the customer to put the music in a film/game, and then to go ahead and make physical copies of this film/game. For example, at Shockwave-Sound.com when you buy the Standard License for a track, you may put the music to a film/game and then manufacture up to 5,000 copies of that product. For more than 5,000 copies, you need the Extended License. Most other stock music sites operate with something similar, although perhaps slightly different license configurations. The stock music site sells a license to the customer, which includes mechanical reproduction rights.

The issue here is that, if you are a member of an organization that administers your Mechanical Rights, then that organization has the exclusive administration of your Mechanical Rights, and that organization is the only one that can issue such a license.

With Performing rights this problem doesn't come up, because the stock music site doesn't get involved with the performing license. The License that the stock music site sells is a Sync License (the right to put your music to film or other media) and a Mechanical License (the right to reproduce physical copies of that film or other media).

If that film should end up being broadcast on TV or in a cinema, your Performing Rights organization should collect performing royalties for you and you will get these royalties from your Performing Rights organization -- but this doesn't really affect the stock music customer / user in any way, because these royalties come from annually paid blanket license fees that broadcasters pay to the Performing Rights organization in their own country.

To sum up, if you are a member of an organization that administers your Mechanical Rights, you cannot have your music sold as stock music / production music from Shockwave-Sound.com or from other stock music sites. Any company that sells your track to a customer and thereby allows that customer to manufacture physical copies of your music, is doing so in violation of the exclusive Mechnical Rights administration that you have assigned to the Mechanical Rights organization when you signed the contract with them.

When I first started out in the stock music business, I was both the composer and also the stock music business owner. I was a member of PRS (Performing Rights Society) and MCPS (Mechanical Copyright Protection Society) which are the UK organization for Performing Rights and Mechanical Rights respectively.

One day I got a telephone call from an Italian customer. She had licensed my music track from my website, used it in a film, had the film put to DVD, manufactured 10,000 copies of that film in a professional DVD pressing plant, and a few weeks later she received a huge invoice from SIAE, the Italian organization who looks after both Performing Rights and Mechanical Rights in Italy. The bill she got was for Mechanical Reproduction Rights for 10,000 copies of my music, and the bill was many times larger than the amount that she had paid me to license the music from my stock music site.

It was this episode that really made me sit up and force myself to learn about these different rights and organizations, and how they affected my ability to license my music as stock music. After a bit of to and from, I believe I managed to talk MCPS into letting the client off the hook so she didn't have to pay after I explained the whole thing as a misunderstanding to MCPS and SIAE, the Italian rights collections society.

I ended up quitting my MCPS membership but remaining a member PRS. Since then, I've had no problem. Since terminating my contract with MCPS, there is no longer any organization that has the exclusive administration of my Mechanical Rights.

  • In USA, I believe all three societies: ASCAP, BMI and SESAC are all Performing Rights based and do not administer Mechanical Rights (somebody correct me if I'm wrong?)
  • In the UK, the organization for Performing Rights is called PRS For Music and the organization for Mechanical Rights is called MCPS. If you are a member of PRS, you may want to check if you also joined MCPS at the same time.
  • In Italy you're dealing with SIAE and in Germany you have GEMA, and I believe both of these are organizations that take care of both Performing Rights and Mechanical Rights, so really if you are member of SIAE or GEMA, you can't have your music sold as stock music -- although you may be able to sign a special addendum to the Agreement that you have with them, which would make them administer only your Performing Rights, and not your Mechanical Rights - you need to contact GEMA/SIAE to inquire about this.
  • In the Netherlands, I believe BUMA is for the Performing Rights and STEMRA is for Mechanical Rights, so you may want to make sure that you have signed a contract only with BUMA, and not with STEMRA.
  • Sweden, Denmark and Norway each have their own organizations for Performing Rights (STIM, KODA and TONO respectively), but they share one Mechanical Rights organization called Ncb (Nordic Copyright Bureau) which administers Mechanical Rights. So if you want to try to sell your music as stock music, make sure you're not in Ncb.

If you have specific and confirmed information about similar situations with the organizations in other countries than the ones I have mentioned above, please feel free to comment below. If it's good info, I will include it here in the main article too.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Using the "Advanced Browse" music search at Shockwave-Sound.com

Here at Shockwave-Sound.com we are proud to unveil what we believe is the most powerful, most flexible and most useful royalty free music search engine anywhere.

You can find the Advanced Browse by clicking the orange link in the left-hand menu of Shockwave-Sound.com, just below "Artists".

The Advanced Browse page allows you to combine multiple search / browse criteria such as Music Genre, Moods/Emotions, Prominent Instruments, Classical or Non-Classical, Tempo Feel, BPM Tempo Range, Length (in seconds) and more, to find tracks specifically matching your needs.

The Advanced Browse page is also interconnected with the "Find Similar Tracks" function on our site. By clicking on "Find Similar Tracks" below any Track description, you are taken to the Advanced Browse page, which is then pre-filled for you, with multiple values from the track you were just listening to.

Multiple operators are combined with either AND or OR values, and note that you can Click on any AND / OR button to swap it between working as AND or OR.

Let's look at a few examples of how to use the Advanced Browse page:



Above, I have used the form to find Country/Bluegrass tracks that have either a Sad / Sorrowful  / Mournful, or a "Gloomy / Dark / Sinister" mood. This gave me a result of 7 tracks, all are kind of sparse country track with a doom laden feel, highly suitable for things like historical drama, westerns / modern westerns and more. Note that if I wish, I could click on the OR button between the two Moods settings, to change it to an AND operator instead.


In the above example I've quite simply found that my favorite artist is Dan Gautreau and I would like to browse all the Happy / Joyful / Positive tracks he has produced. This search result gave me 112 tracks, so I've got plenty of stuff to listen to.


Since I felt that the 112 tracks I got from my previous browse results was "too much", above I have added another criteria. This time I've gone for tracks by the artist Dan Gautreau, which are Happy / Joyful / Positive, and which features prominent use of Acoustic Piano. Now we're getting more precise, and this browse gave me a result of 26 tracks.



Above, I have decided to browse Vocal Pop tracks, which are either "Laidback / Easy-going / Chilled" OR "Happy / Joyful / Positive", and are sung by a Male vocalist. This gave me a result of 128 tracks.

If I wanted to, I could go back to the form and click on the OR button between the mood settings, and this would narrow the results to tracks that are both Laid back AND Happy - whilst still being in the Vocal Pop genre and being sung by a male vocalist. This would then give me 17 tracks.

Let's look at one more fun example. I wish to find jazz tracks performed by a traditional 3-piece jazz trio of Piano, Drums and Acoustic Bass. Here's how I would do it:


I've set the Music Genre setting to "Jazz: General & faster jazz" (I could change it to "Smooth jazz" if that's what I wanted), and I've selected Piano (Acoustic) AND Drums (Drum kit) AND Bass (Upright/Acoustic). Hit "Search" and I find 119 tracks. Nice result!

Let's just take one more example:


In the above case, I've decided to browse tracks in the Rock -> General Rock genre, which are between 8 and 15 seconds long. I needed this for a short on-screen presentation / intro screen.

Not many tracks are created to be only between 8 and 15 seconds long, but many of our composers create "Stinger" versions of their tracks, which often happen to be between 8 and 15 seconds, so in this case I get a result of 358 tracks. In this case, the resulting track listing doesn't show me the full length tracks - it shows me only the stinger versions that are between 8 and 15 seconds.


My friends, these are only a few examples of how you can use our Advanced Browse page to experiment with our catalog of stock music / royalty-free music and find exactly the tracks you need, with an amazing degree of flexibility and power in your searches. Experiment with it. Have fun with it. You can't break anything -- we hope! :-) You may find some combinations give you zero results, and you may find some combinations that give you too many results to make sense of it. If that happens, go back to the form and think of ways to tweak your settings to make your search more open, or more precise. In particular, keep track of those AND / OR buttons and click on them to change their functionality.

Have fun!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

A video for the track "Rising Up" by Isha Erskine Project

We publish a lot of new music every week and we wouldn't have any chance of producing a video to promote every single track, but track #18,483 in our stock music catalog is Rising Up by the Isha Erskine Project, and we decided to spend some extra time on having a video done to this track.

The video itself isn't much to brag about, truth be told, but then we aren't video producers. It's just some stock video footage set to the music in an amateur way, but the music is superb. We hope you'll enjoy it. Here is the video (embedded from YouTube):


The music track is a vocal, somewhat mysterious, epic, but in an understated, elegant way. It's hard to explain exactly why this track is so atmospheric and vibrant. It has a timeless feel, and can work well in drama, as theme songs for films and much more. There is also an instrumental version. Here is a link to the track in our royalty-free music listing, showing all the different versions available and the licensing costs: https://www.shockwave-sound.com/stock-music-track/18483/rising-up

Monday, October 26, 2015

Copyrights and Wrongs

Is music plagiarism cut and dried or are there still ‘Blurred Lines’?

Throughout the history of music there have been melodies, rhythms and lyrics that closely resemble existing compositions. So is it clear in the eyes of the law when homage, inspiration or musical parody becomes outright musical theft?




History Repeats Itself


Despite the controversy surrounding the recent high profile case of the Thicke and Williams track ‘Blurred Lines’ and it’s legal dispute with the estate of Marvin Gaye, musical plagiarism is far from a new phenomenon.

In the early 1960’s The Beach Boys were forced to relinquish the publishing rights of their song ‘Surfin’ USA’ to Chuck Berry’s publisher due to its similarity to one of Berry’s compositions. Led Zeppelin got into hot water when there second album was found to have lyrics and riffs copied from early blues artists such as Willie Dixon and Howlin’ Wolf.

Rod Stewart didn’t feel quite so horny when his song ‘Do You Think I’m Sexy’ was found to have a number of similarities to another composition, ‘Taj Mahal’ by Brazilian composer Jorge Ben Jor.

In the 1990’s, the Oasis hit ‘Whatever’ was forced to share songwriting credits with former Bonzo Dog & Python lyricist Neil Innes for its similarity with his song ‘How Sweet to be an Idiot’.

And the Manchester brothers were in trouble a second time when The New Seekers questioned the similarity between their hit ‘I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing’ and the Oasis song ‘Shakermaker’.

Plagiarism cases have continued throughout the 21st Century. Sam Smith’s Grammy nominated hit, ‘Stay With Me’ was the subject of an out-of-court settlement with Tom Petty and ELO’s Jeff Lynne, when it was decided the melody contained too many similarities to Petty’s hit ‘I Won’t Back Down’.

And UK producer Mark Ronson was forced to add writer’s credits to various members of The Gap Band for copying one of their hits on his multi million selling worldwide hit single ‘Uptown Funk’.

The latest high profile case concerns Jay Z and producer Timberland with their long running lawsuit defending their hit Big Pimpin’ and its interpolation of the Egyptian love ballad Khosara Khosara.
With these examples and many, many more besides, surely it’s clear that there must be very well defined rules to govern whether a song is copied or not. Or are there?

What exactly does the Law have to say about musical plagiarism?

The Law and How it Stands


Well, in many cases it seems to boil down to quantity. Exactly how much of the copyrighted material has been copied? Just a little, or is it a substantial amount?

If it’s more than what is considered to be paying homage to a particular artist or song, then the alarm bells of ‘infringement’ may begin to toll. And when an entire melody or motif is undeniably similar then the laws will irrefutably consider it as a copyright infringement.

And since the ‘Blurred Lines’ case, the substantiality clause has been extended. It’s not only a similar melody or copied lyric, but also the ‘feel’ of the composition. Its very ‘soul’. Its ‘mojo’ that may also be copied.

The second thing that the law considers is the ‘likelihood’ that the artist may have plagiarised the work. For example, someone who has gone on record as being the numero uno David Bowie fanatic all their life, is more likely to be under suspicion if they release a track based on the chord structure, lyrics and melody line of ‘Heroes’. It could indeed be presumed that they have copied the track from their ‘hero’ Mr. Bowie. Any similarities will certainly not work in their favour.

Interestingly, Bowie has often described himself as a musical magpie. Citing in one interview that it’s knowing ‘what to steal and when to steal it’ that is the trick to good songwriting.

But then again his remarkable genius elevates any would-be homage into an entirely new stratosphere. Quantum Plagiarism if you like. Yes, there may be an essence of the Rolling Stones and Velvet Underground in Aladdin Sane. But could either of those artists have written such songs or created such an album?



Thou Shalt Not Steal

Plagiarism or copying music also includes the actual physical audio. Sampling has notoriously been responsible for a number of plagiarism court cases since affordable digital samplers were introduced in the 1980s.


An early example of problems arising from digital sampling was on a record by UK chillout producers, The Orb. Their 1990 release ‘A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld’ featured a big slice of the song ‘Loving You’ by Minnie Ripperton. It floated into the track as if in a dream. Panning around the stereo field, bathed in delay and reverb. A very pleasant effect that enhanced the Orb’s live DJ shows at the time. But including it on a published release was to land them in a great deal of trouble with Minnie Ripperton’s publishers and pretty soon after the release, the record was withdrawn. Only to appear later with the Ripperton version replaced by a hastily recorded sound-alike.

Another high profile case was a little known record by Rap artist Biz Markie. The track was called ‘Alone Again (Naturally)’ and featured a 10 second loop from the Gilbert O’Sullivan track of the same name. This became a test case for digital sampling when it was taken to court in 1991. O’Sullivan’s publishers won the case with the judge in summing up, quoting from the Ten Commandments. ‘Thou Shalt Not Steal’.

Pretty soon after this case, publishers and record companies became aware of this new phenomenon and clauses began to appear in every new contract that was issued to bands, DJs and artists. The record companies were keen to take no responsibility for the content of the record and to ensure that the artist cleared any samples that appeared on recordings prior to their release.
But even with these clauses in place, there were still outstanding issues to resolve. Records by the likes of Snoop Dogg and Doctor Dre would simply not exist were it not for the God-like genius of legendary producer George Clinton, who is still fighting to contest royalties from a number of artists that sampled P-Funk riffs from Funkadelic & Parliament.

Making A Mockery


So what help does the Law offer to struggling composers keen to make a living from what is after all a somewhat restrictive 12 note scale?

Recent updates include a law that recognises ‘parody’.

A work that evokes an existing work while being noticeably different from it and constituting an expression of humour and mockery.

This is clearly aimed at the YouTuber generation, but it does offer a glimmer of hope that satire and parody may be recognised as a reason for plagiarism, rather than the obvious lack of originality.
However, this Law may be more help to the likes of Weird Al Yankovic or Flight of the Conchords-type parodies. Or the ancient art of musical imitation made popular in the 60’s and 70’s by artists like The Baron Knights, Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band and the Not The Nine O’clock News team’s musical sketches. Of little use perhaps to today’s more serious musicians, producers and songwriters who are less inclined to include humerous parody in their songwriting.

In Summing Up


Hard as it may seem, the obvious thing for songwriters to do is to never copy other artists when creating music or composing songs. But this just isn’t feasible. And as these examples prove, plagiarism is almost a necessary tool, some may say an integral part of the musical process. But it’s knowing the point where enthusiastic inspiration has spilt over into the realms of forgery. Then having the musical ability to pull back from that abyss and taking another route. Investing some pure originality into a composition. And only using other people’s work as a springboard to something new may be the key to original composition. After all, it seems that songwriting and music making owes as much to its rich, dynamic history as it does to it’s as yet unwritten future.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Focus on classical music this week

Good quality, royalty free classical music, is hard to come by. That's just a fact.


Why? Because hiring an orchestra, with studio time and engineer, is extremely costly and time consuming. It's a process that requires meticulous planning and preparation and costs "a small fortune" to get it done.

In the "stock music scene" there have been various sources of so-called royalty free classical music, of dubious origin. On some "free for all, self-uploading" websites, you can find classical music recordings that almost certainly don't actually belong to the person who uploaded them, but rather sourced from some published CD, and belonging to another company.


If "some guy" is uploading fully orchestrated recordings of classical masterpieces, you need to ask yourself if that guy really spent the time, effort and money (possibly several hundreds of thousands of dollars) on getting that music recorded, so that he could sell it for $15 at a stock media site that allows a free-for-all self-uploading of content for sale. It goes without saying, that recording is not going to be safe, copyright wise.

Here at Shockwave-Sound.com we have also been exposed to these "unsafe" recordings, likely to be copyrighted to some company who doesn't know that their recordings are being uploaded to stock music sites.

Instead, we focus on getting a smaller volume of recordings done, but to have them done from scratch, exclusively for our company. At the time of writing, we have 74 such exclusive classical recordings that we ourselves have organized and got recorded for us on a work-for-hire basis. We are adding to that regularly, so by the time you read this, we may have many more. These recordings are not for sale through any other stock music / royalty-free music website.

This week we decided to put some of these tracks together onto CD-collections. We have released 4 new Royalty-Free Classical Music albums this week, with the following track listings:

https://www.shockwave-sound.com/royalty-free-music-collection/612/classical-favorites-vol-1


Classical Favorites Vol 1:
  • Bach: Prelude No 1
  • Beethoven: Für Elise
  • Beethoven: Moonlight Sonata Movement 1
  • Delibes: Sylvia Pizzicato
  • Grieg: In The Hall of the Mountain King
  • Grieg: Morning Mood from Peer Gynt
  • Mozart: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik Allegro
  • Mozart: K545 Sonata in C Major Movement 1
  • Rossini: William Tell Overture
  • Purcell: Trumpet Tune for String Quartet
https://www.shockwave-sound.com/royalty-free-music-collection/613/classical-favorites-vol-2
  • Satie: Gnossiene No 1
  • Satie: Gymnopedie No 1
  • Sousa: Semper Fidelis
  • Tchaikovsky: Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from the Nutcracker
  • Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker Chinese Tea Dance
  • Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker Dance of the Mirlitons
  • Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker March
  • Händel: Sarabande
  • Purcell: Trumpet Tune
  • Schubert: Ave Maria
https://www.shockwave-sound.com/royalty-free-music-collection/614/classical-favorites-vol-3
  • Vivaldi: Four Seasons Spring RV269 Movement 1 Allegro
  • Vivaldi: Four Seasons Spring RV269 Movement 3 Allegro pastorale
  • Vivaldi: Four Seasons Winter RV297 Movement 1 Allegro non molto
  • Vivaldi: Four Seasons Winter RV297 Movement 2 Largo
  • Chopin: Minute Waltz
  • Holst: Saturn from The Planets Suite
  • Sousa: Liberty Bell
  • Sousa: The Thunderer
  • Scott Joplin: The Entertainer
  • Saint-Saens: Aquarium from Carnival of the Animals
https://www.shockwave-sound.com/royalty-free-music-collection/615/classical-favorites-vol-4
  • Strauss: The Blue Danube
  • Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake Act 1 Finale
  • Bach: Air On the G String
  • Bach: Jesu Joy of Mans Desiring
  • Bach: Wachet Auf aka Sleepers Awake BWV 140
  • Beethoven: Symphony 5 Movement 1
  • Elgar: Pomp and Circumstance March 1
  • Händel: Entrance of The Queen of Sheba
  • Händel: Hornpipe from Water Music
  • Holst: Jupiter from the Planets suite

Those were the 4 new releases we've put together this week. We already had the individual tracks in our catalog and have been acquiring them over a longer period of time, but it was only this week that we put them together into "CD-collections".

From previously, we also have these two:

https://www.shockwave-sound.com/royalty-free-music-collection/378/classical-strauss-lanner

  • Lanner Steyrische Tanze
  • Strauss An Der Schonen Blauen Donau
  • Strauss Annen Polka
  • Strauss Der Zigeunerbaron Overture
  • Strauss Die Fledermaus Overture
  • Strauss Dorfschwalben aus Osterreich
  • Strauss Gschichten aus dem Wienerwald
  • Strauss Kaiser Waltzer
  • Strauss Pizzicato Polka
  • Strauss Radetzky Marsch
  • Strauss Tritsch-Tratsch Polka
  • Strauss Unter Donner und Blitz


https://www.shockwave-sound.com/royalty-free-music-collection/571/classical-piano-favorites-vol-1 

  • Bach Prelude in C major BWV846
  • Beethoven Pathetique Sonata 2nd movement Adagio cantabile
  • Chopin Mazurka in A minor op. 17 no. 4
  • Chopin Mazurka in C sharp minor op. 63 no. 3
  • Chopin Nocturne in E flat major op. 9 no. 2
  • Chopin Nocturne no. 20 in C sharp minor op posth
  • Chopin Prelude in E minor op. 28 no. 4
  • Chopin Raindrops Prelude op. 28 no. 15
  • Liszt Consolation no. 3 in D flat major S.172
  • Mendelssohn Song Without Words in E major op. 19 no. 1
  • Mozart Piano Sonata no. 12 K332 2nd movement Adagio
  • Schubert Impromptu in G-flat major op. 90 no. 3 D899
  • Schubert Moment musicaux in F minor no. 3 op. 94 D780
  • Schumann Dreaming from Scenes from Childhood op. 15 no. 7
  • Scriabin Etude in C sharp minor op. 2 no. 1
  • Tchaikovsky June (Barcarolle) from The Seasons op. 37a no. 6
We hope you enjoy the music, safe in the knowledge that they can be licensed for use in media and in public, without fear of copyright infringement.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Spotlight on our latest releases

Hi all, I wanted to take a few minutes this Friday afternoon to present our latest three CD-collections!


Voyage is an amazing musical journey into strange worlds, somewhere between the distant past and the near future. This semi-orchestral, detailed and creative soundtrack contains 15 intriguing tracks with a sense of curiosity and amazement. These tracks can work exceptionally well for sci-fi and steampunk, as well as for things like industrial presentations, commercial projects, factories and space discovery - and much more. This is master composer Francesco Giovannangelo's third album for Shockwave-Sound and we are completely mesmerized by this cinematic music.


Lifestyle & Light Comedy, Vol. 7: is an album of subtle comedy or everyday type music. This style / sound of music is popular in much of today's reality TV programming, be it slightly amusing stories of real people going about their everyday troubles, or "fly on the wall" type shows, quiz shows and more. The music has that lighthearted feel, but also with a sense of sincerity -- a playful honesty. I can also imagine this music being highly useful in things like home improvement shows / house makeover shows, interior design and much more. Composed by John Starcluster.



Indie Sound vol. 1: We already have another series of albums called "Indie Rock", but we wanted to start a new series of music that has that Indie sound, but isn't clear-cut rock. This album features 10 fun and cheeky tracks with an indie sound reminiscent of Kings of Leon and many other indie pop / indie rock bands. The music has a slightly fun / careless / freaky sound, and can go well with Hipster type content, fun days with friends. It's all very slightly "unhinged" which gives it a really nice edge for use with quirky commercials too. Composed by Fab Claxton.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Paypal trouble today


Dear customers/visitors,

Paypal are experiencing problems with transactions today. Customers have been paying for goods and receiving payment receipt emails from Paypal, but the transactions are "lost" somewhere for several hours before we receive the money in our Paypal account or our site receives IPN signal from Paypal, which causes customers not to receive the products they have purchased from us.


We have helped the customers who contacted us about it, and for now we have disabled Paypal payment option on our Checkout page. Please pay with a credit card using either the Worldpay or 2Checkout option for now.

There are some comments under this map here: https://downdetector.com/status/paypal/map/
which seem to indicate that other people are having some Paypal problems at the moment.

We will re-enable Paypal payment when they get their issues taken care of. Thanks.

Monday afternoon update: http://www.computing.co.uk/ctg/news/2429039/paypal-global-fault-hits-every-account-monday-night
 

Friday, October 2, 2015

New version of Shockwave-Sound.com launched today

Dear friends, users, visitors of Shockwave-Sound.com.

This weekend we are launching the newly redesigned Shockwave-Sound website. We hope that you will enjoy using it. The new site features a slick, new design, more modern and perhaps more pleasing to the eye - although, of course, that is a matter of personal preference.



Shockwave-Sound.com new site 2015


More importantly, though, the new Shockwave-Sound.com has functional improvements beyond the purely visual. "Under the hood", the handling of database queries such as browsing, searching etc. in the music catalogue is better optimized and uses more cache features, which means that everything should be faster, more streamlined.

The new site, compared with the old one, features:

  • Faster browsing and page loading.
  • Faster search, much less load on the server.
  • Fully Adaptive/Flexible design that works well on screens of any size, including tablets, cellphones, etc.
  • No Flash, all HTML5 built.
  • Choose between Standard or Condensed View in all track listings (Condensed view shows less details of each track and a preview sound player for only the "Full track" version of each track).
  • More track sorting options including "Most sold forever" and "Most sold recently".
  • A simplified and easier accessible Advanced Browse functionality that lets you combine different criteria such as Moods/Emotions, Music Genres, Tempo, Instrumentation and more, to find your perfect track.
  • "Find Similar Tracks" feature which automatically pre-fills the Advanced Browse page for you, to enable you to find more tracks that match several criteria from the track you just heard.
There are many other smaller improvements, which hopefully you will find along the way as you start to use our new site. We hope you enjoy it.

A bit of history

Just for fun, we decided to dig out some pictures of older versions of Shockwave-Sound.com, going back to 2001. Actually, the site itself was started in April 2000, but we don't have any historical images of the site until February 2001, when the first picture below is from. Looking at the pictures below, you can see that we have pretty much operated with the same core design / look since 2002. That's 13 years, without a major overhaul of the look and design. I guess it was about time! Although I have to say, that the "2002 design", made for us at the time by Gert Duinen, combined with the core programming work and database connection created for us in 2005 by Richard Davey, has served us extremely well.

Shockwave-Sound.com, 2001

Shockwave-Sound.com, early 2002

Shockwave-Sound.com, 2003

Shockwave-Sound.com, 2008
Shockwave-Sound.com, 2014

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Three amazing new album releases: Ambient Mysteries, Lite Rock, Spirit of India & Middle East

I wanted to take a moment to stop for a moment to make a bit of an announcement of the three great new stock music / production music albums we have released over the past week or so here at Shockwave-Sound.com:


Ambient Mysteries Vol. 1 represents a new series for us, being the first volume of albums with this title. The music chosen for this album and subsequent volumes are Ambient music that goes away from the "blissful, relaxing" new age music often connected with the word Ambient, and more over into the kind of cold, eerie, mystical music often heard in the new wave of Scandinavian crime dramas, as well as mystery / suspense films, TV series such as "Breaking Bad" and more. It's Ambient music that lends itself towards the "darker side" of productions, but without actually stepping into horror territory, if you see what I mean. We actually considered calling this album "Nordic Ambient, Vol. 1" because we feel some of the music has a Nordic / Scandinavian feel (anybody familiar with some great Scandinavian crime series like "The Bridge", "Wallander" and "Forbrydelsen" which was released in English under the name "Those Who Kill"?), but in the end we decided to go with the somewhat less specific title, "Ambient Mysteries".

Lite Rock, Vol. 10 contains ten tracks of friendly, fresh, uplifting and heartening, melodic rock tracks, 8 of which composed and recorded by the undersigned, and two additional tracks by my good friend Dan Morrisey. I hope you'll enjoy this one. Our "Lite Rock" collections are always quite popular; I think the music lends itself well to many types of media projects, including commercials / advertising, adventure sports / outdoor activities, fun and holidays, even corporate / business presentations.

Spirit of India & the Middle East, Vol. 5 deserves a special mention. It contains 11 wonderful World tracks with the sounds, flavor and styles of the Orient / Middle East and India. Composed by Wael Mhanna with production support by his brother Jad Mhanna, who live and work in Lebanon, this album features music composed and recorded in the Middle East, unlike most "World" music you would get from a production music library which is actually composed in places like UK, Germany and America! Wael and Jad put together an ensemble of live human performers from Lebanon who played their traditional instruments on top of studio / sample arrangements made beforehand on computers. The result is a combination of programmed and real live human performances that just sound great. This collection has music representing the regions of Arabia / Persia - The Middle East, India and North Africa, including (but not limited to) Iraq, Syria, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Order #200,000 placed at Shockwave-Sound.com today

We are very happy to be able to announce customer #200,000 today in our online shopping cart system / database. Well, it's not actually customer #200,000 but rather order #, because we have a lot of repeat customers and there won't be 200,000 different customers, but a total of 200,000 orders placed through our online shopping cart system since the current database went online in April 2005 (about 10 1/2 years ago) at the time of writing. (In fact, Shockwave-Sound.com as a stock music / royalty-free music site was started already 5 years before that, back in the spring of 2000, but it didn't have a real online order database until April 2005).


The screenshot shows the top of the order log, with the most recent orders on the top of the list, as it looked this morning. We've blurred the names and email addresses in the interest of privacy, but I can say that order #200,000 was placed by a gentleman from Finland, and he bought the 60-secs version of the track We Are Young composed by Evgeny Emelyanov.

We here at Shockwave-Sound.com want to thank you all for your amazing support and all the business you've done on our site through the years, allowing us to continue to bring you great music composed exclusively for us by amazingly talented composers from all over the world. Bring on the next 15 years!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Special release feature: "Secret" by Peter Cavallo

We don't write a blog feature about every new track or album we release here at Shockwave-Sound, because our poor readers would not be able to keep up with the constant stream of new music tracks and collections being published. For example, over the past 7 days we have released five new albums, with about 10-12 tracks on each - these are now all available as individual tracks in our track catalogue, and as CD-collections / albums in our "Collections" area.

However, once in a while we release something that we feel is a bit special and deserves a closer look, and a little bit of a "splash". Our very latest, the album Secret by Peter Cavallo, is such a case.


"Secret" is an album of 12 astonishingly beautiful, haunting, delicate and considered pieces in neo-classical or classic film soundtrack style. Made completely without any electric or electronic sounds, this is an album of timeless music that will go just as well in a film 50 years from today, as it does today - and indeed would have done 50 years ago.

I strongly recommend you listen to these amazing Individual Tracks by Peter Cavallo as well as this album release titled "Secret".

Having listened over and over to this music over the past few days, I felt the need to get hold of composer Peter Cavallo and find out a little bit more about his background, and the background and story behind this amazing music. So I decided to make a little bit of an interview, and here goes:

Peter Cavallo in his studio

Your music is very accomplished, very detailed, you are clearly not a beginner. Have you released any album or soundtracks previously?

"You are right, I am not a beginner. I am a self taught musician that simply loves to write music and it has been that way from the first instrument I picked up. I have two previous albums to my credit. The first, which was an instrumental solo Piano album was released on audio cassette (remember those?). It won an award and didn't do too bad in sales. The second was a contemporary instrumental album featuring some friends of mine who were working as session musicians at the time. Again this was a audio cassette only release and was a major flop  as it was released at the start of Australia's recession period. Not a good time to release a new album, but I did manage to pick up another award, which I think was because I was the only idiot to release an album at that time :) I am yet to do a film soundtrack, but I have written music for television which was quite easy to get into as I was working as a Television producer for a few years and just used my own music in the show. If there are any directors reading this... well, you know the rest."




The music on "Secret" seems very deliberate, very thought-through and with attention to detail. How long did it take you to put together this work? I'm guessing it wasn't done in a week…

The selection of tracks on Secret were written over a period of one year, in between all the other music I wrote. All of these tracks were selected as they seem to have a theme that tied them together. It was if the album was writing itself over time. Every time I would sit at the piano, which is my main writing tool, these melodies would flood through and within an hour I would have a finished sketch. While it was still fresh I would put down a piano only track of the entire piece, then sit back and listen to the orchestra in my head. The rest is total organised chaos, a flurry of activity and frustration trying to get sample libraries to emulate what's going on in the symphony in my head. This is where the time factor comes into it. I spend a lot of hours on a track just getting the sounds to be as authentic as possible. The tracks themselves were composed very quickly but the orchestration takes way longer for two reasons. 1. Samples libraries are like balancing an elephant on a bar stool. 2. I don't know what I'm doing. Am I happy with the final result? Of course not! But you cannot dedicate your life to one piece of music when there is so much more waiting for you to connect with.

Peter Cavallo at the piano


Are you inspired or influenced by classical music composers, if so which ones, or more by contemporary film soundtrack composers?
I would have to say the composer that has influenced my thirst to write music would be Rachmaninoff. He was one of the most innovative and passionate composers I've heard. In the movie soundtrack world it would be Ennio Morricone, Thomas Newman, Max Steiner. Some smaller but very influential composers have been Bill Brown and Steven Gutheinz. I don't actually listen to much music unless I want to study it and learn from it.

Do you use any live instrument recordings for your productions, or are you just very clever with samples and simulated instruments?
I would love to use live instruments all the time. As good as sample libraries are they are still no match for a real player, full stop. I used a violin player in one of my tracks simply because it wouldn't work at all with a sample violin library. That track is called 'In the Tears'. This touches on a very frustrating aspect to my composing. What I hear in my head and what ends up as the finished result is actually a very poor comparison of what it could be. Because what I hear has no boundaries and I am frustrated by my lack of ability and knowledge of music to fully be able to articulate precisely in a score of how it should be performed.This is why over the last 8 months I have been studying music with a Canadian Composer called Alain Mayrand who is slowly teaching me that music has colour, emotion and rules. Music paints pictures in the mind of every listener - the challenge is to get every listener to see the same thing when they hear your music. Music has emotions - chords, harmony, pitch and rhythm. When used with purpose can make you cry and laugh in the same measure. Rules can be broken but with correct knowledge. I can say with certainty that one day I will compose with true clarity and purpose and hopefully with real players.

If you could go back in time and compose the musical score for a any major movie from history, which movie would you have liked to compose for?
I love movies and a great score is hard to find these days. Recently I read an article about Max Steiner and how he was given a project to do with a very limited budget and no one was sure it was even going to work as a film. The film was 'King Kong'. Max Steiner composed a wonderful score but his budget was so small he could only afford a hand full of musicians. When they recorded the tracks he had musicians and himself changing instruments in mid score. He was one of the first innovators in film music and that really inspires me. Not that I could do anything like Max Steiner's work but I would have loved to give King Kong a go. No sample libraries just the raw material that makes music real and live!



Can you tell us a few words about yourself and your part of the world, that has nothing to do with music or your compositions? 

I live in Canberra, Australia. Canberra is the Capital of Australia, not Sydney as many think it is. Canberra is the smallest of the capital cities in Australia and is where all political decisions are made. It is a like a country town, nice to live and bring up a family and 2 hours drive to the snow (winter) or beach (summer). I have an adventure motorcycle that allows me to escape and go travelling and one day I hope to, with my partner do a world tour on motorcycles. I have hit a kangaroo while riding my motorcycle, which was something I do not wish to try again. We both survived, thankfully, with a story to tell. I have the most wonderful partner who supports me fully in what I am trying to do in music and she is the best part of my life.



Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A video for Isha Erskine Project - Falling Down

One of our regular writers / musicians Isha Erskine submitted a new track for licensing this week, a really great vocal ballad, with a certain Enya / Clannad / Moya Brennan kind of vibe and with a superb female vocal performed by Michelle Lockey.

We put together a music video of sorts to mark the release of this great new track. Here it is:


The music track was composed by Isha Erskine (real full name Elisha D Erskine) along with Michelle Lockey and the track is available to license as stock music / production music for your own media projects, be it film, video, stage event, commercial etc.

For me, listening to this track makes me think of serious drama, crime drama, perhaps something melancholic and eerily mystical, perhaps Nordic, wintery or damp. It really gets my imagination going. I could easily see this track be used as the theme music, for example, for a BBC Crime Drama series. I hope you'll like it too.

The track, Falling Down, is also available in an Instrumental version, as well as an Underscore version (a version with all "lead instruments" removed) and various shorter versions, loops etc. You can listen to all the different versions and buy a license, by following this link.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Recording orchestral music for Massive Impact Vol. 14

At Shockwave-Sound.com we recently had the pleasure and honor of releasing the latest volume in our "Massive Impact" series of big, epic music. This album, and some of our others, feature recordings of actual live philharmonic orchestras, playing along with samples and electronics, for a grand, soaring, rich sound.

We thought it would be interesting to set up a talk with composer and arranger Iouri Sazonov (aka Yuri Sazonoff) to find out a little bit about what it takes to carry out a project like that. We spoke with Iouri about working with live orchestras and about the Massive Impact Vol. 14 project in particular.

Iouri Sazonov (aka Yuri Sazonoff) at the studio recording desk

Said Iouri, "I've been lucky enough to do a substantial amount of work with orchestras in the past, as well as contracting orchestras for various productions, from film and big symphonic productions, to instrumental albums, recording for artists ranging from jazz, crossover, to pop music."

"Recording music with a real orchestra is such a treat... and at the same time, such hard work. Despite the growing number of high quality sampling libraries available to composers these days, the actual sound of a real orchestra is still superior to just using sampled sounds. The articulations coming from a group of real players are so much better pronounced, and even imperfections such as slight tuning problems, very slight timing inaccuracies and such, just make the overall sound more full, interesting and alive."

So for a project like this, where do you start? 

"The process begins with composing the music, and that is something that goes on over weeks or months. I play with ideas using only MIDI / simulated orchestra sounds at this point, and I will usually come back to an idea or a piece a couple of days later, to see if it's still good, if it's worth continuing the work on this piece. When I have a rough concept for a track in place, I will send it to Bjorn (Editor's note: that's Bjorn Lynne, manager at Shockwave-Sound.com and executive producer for the project) for approval.

Ok, so a few months later you have a collection of tracks, all done just with MIDI and samples, you then start to think about recording with an orchestra. Can you describe the process from there?

"When I've got 10 ready to go MIDI tracks, I will start to talk to a couple of studios I regularly work with, to try to find an available time slot to accommodate my needs.

Careful planning is the key. You can never be too well prepared for an orchestra recording session. Without the utmost care and attention to every little detail in the planning stage, you are risking wasting precious time and money during the recording sessions.

I will usually block-book the studio for whole period of time I need. It’s not very smart to let some other studio clients in for an evening session, just to find out in the morning that your engineer has to do the whole setup of 48, 56 or even more microphones again basically from scratch. Been there, done that!"



How do you make the printed sheets of written music that the players read from?

"As part of the preparation stage, I do score and parts preparations in Sibelius, do few basic stereo stems, click tracks and MIDI files to be imported in ProTools into ready-to-go orchestral setup prepared for the sessions by my engineer. It all takes a considerable amount of time, but needs to be done, and needs to be done well.

I always quantize each part to be recorded live. (Editor's note: "Quantizing" is the process of "correcting" each musical note to the exact musical time where it should be, rather than just before or just after, as a human would play it). Otherwise, the scoring program of your choice, usually Finale or Sibelius, is not going to recognize all that nonsense from the MIDI file you just imported, and it’s going to look like “mission impossible” for the musicians.

It’s easier to quantize notes in your DAW (Editor's note: DAW = Digital Audio Workstation) than trying to figure out all the crazy notes produced by un-quantized MIDI files. People who are more inexperienced with notations will sometimes drop unreadable and unplayable scores in front of players, and this will definitely give you a big problem.

Playability, by the way, is another thing to consider. You want your score to be recorded quickly, and to sound good. For that you have to present parts that are playable by musicians. Mistakes in the score will always happen - bit it's better when they don't! So I double check, triple check and proof the read full score for any accidental mistakes that can happen just from the slightest wrong move you make with your computer mouse. Mistakes cost time, lots of time, and you can easily get behind schedule.

What would a typical "mistake" be in this setting?

"Let's say the principle viola player says to the conductor: "There is something funny in bar 27”. You start checking the score and figuring  it out, but by the time you sort it out with the violas, the second violins have also got a question. And just when you've fixed everything relating to that problem, you find that the orchestra goes on their hourly union break, and after 15-20 minutes you are still there, losing precious time. I’ve heard a few times that film composers who record with orchestra on regular basis talk about time on the floor as hundreds or thousands dollars per minute. These people are usually very experienced and well prepared for the sessions."


I've seen the players wear headphones that they have over one ear - what do they hear in there?

"When I produce my MIDI tracks at the preparation / composing stage, I usually separate the main groups, so that my engineer can create comfortable sub-mixes for the players to hear in their headphones. Different instrument groups often ask for different sub-mixes. I usually send them along with click tracks (Editors note: "Click track" is a simple audio track with just the ticking rhythm, helping the players to stay on time during the recording) and MIDI files with tempo and bar structure to my engineer. Hopefully he’s got some time to prepare the Pro Tools sessions before the actual recording. This will save us time while recording, and will let us have breaks when the orchestra players have their break."


We've been talking quite generally, but can you tell us a bit about the actual recording sessions for our "Massive Impact Vol. 14" album?

"For this projected I decided to do the recording by instrumental groups - first strings and then on separate session I do the brasses. It's quicker this way and makes everything more efficient. My engineer and his assistants usually give me a little break and build the setup the night before, if possible of course.

We’ve been experimenting lately with different sitting positions of groups within strings orchestra and positioning of the Decca Tree (Editor's note: A "Decca Tree" is a group of microphones positioned in a particular way, often used with orchestra recordings) along with multiple room mics. Since I knew that prior to the sessions, I adjusted my writing accordingly -- again, it's back to how important the preparation is!"


"The string sessions went very smoothly this time, and I had enough time to do all the tracks and then go back to fix/improve couple of things I’d made notes of, something I try to do if time permits. I make notes on my paper copy of full score, the good old way with a pencil. You circle the problem instrument at the problem bar, write T2- or T3+ for take number, and so on. This way you are able to do it as you go along with the performance. I’ve seen lately many guys trying to make notes on the fly with their iPad, but the thing is that even if you are really fast at typing, the music goes faster and you're missing lots of things to make note of.

Anyway, for my brass session, this time I hired 3 French Horns, a Tenor Trombone and a Trumpet. Even though it’s just 5 persons on the floor, we record them on all close and all ambient microphones (19 in totals) to capture the room ambiance. The brass recording went smoothly, and again because time permits it, I asked them to overdub (Editors note: "Overdub" is the process of making another recording of the same thing and mixing/overlaying that with the first recording) a few times, to do the higher range of the lower parts, and so on. After it was all done, we stayed at the studio for some time to transfer all sessions to a hard drive which I then take home with me."




At this point you've let the players go home?

"Yes, now it's just me in the studio, tidying up, organizing files and copying things to take home with me, to my home studio where I edit the live recording, stack up the strings and brass takes, and make it all nice and polished. These are the "Basic mixes" that I send to Bjorn for his final approval."

What about the singing? In these tracks we can hear both huge choirs and a soaring soprano voice?

"Some time before I went to do the orchestra recording, I sent demo tracks to a great soprano vocalist I know - to sweeten up the sampled choirs and to do some solos on several tracks. It makes a big difference, again bringing out the articulations and making it sound more believable. I take some time to do all edits including soprano takes, and after it’s all done there is one final step to do, which is the final mixes, including the various "alternative mixes" such as No Choir version, No Percussion version, and so on."


- - -

Thanks for talking to us Yuri, I think everybody will agree that the result is really great and you can hear more of Yuri's work for Shockwave-Sound.com by following this link to all of Yuri's tracks here on our site.


Friday, August 21, 2015

Massive Impact Vol. 14 released, with real live orchestra

Here at Shockwave-Sound.com we are proud to be able to announce a new major release this week: Massive Impact, Vol. 14 - a collection of 10 epic, soaring, cinematic tracks, recorded with actual live philharmonic orchestra.



It's not every day that we are able to release an album of real orchestra recorded music, because recording music with a live orchestra is complicated, difficult, time consuming and expensive. To be honest, you won't find real orchestra pieces out there as stock music / production music at all. Not only because there usually isn't enough money in the licensing opportunities, to justify paying for the recording sessions. But also because the people with the skills to pull off a real live orchestra session -- preparing it, arranging it, recording and mixing it, just do not tend to be working on production music / library music.

So it's not without reason that we are pretty proud to be able to release some exclusive, real orchestra music now and then. We do this maybe once a year, and this time we've arrived at Massive Impact Vol. 14. The 10 tracks featured on this album were composed by Iouri Sazonov (aka Yuri Sazonoff) and also feature a live human vocalist (a beautiful soprano voice) singing along with sampled choirs. We hope you enjoy these tracks. By the way, each track is also available to license individually, not necessary as the full album.

Over the next couple of days we'll be publishing an article with a bit of an interview with Yuri, some insight into the orchestra recording preparation, and some photos from the recording sessions. Keep your eyes on this blog for more on that, coming up soon.