Thursday, March 30, 2017

Polish Folk Music focus at Shockwave-Sound.com

Polish folk music performers
From the monumental Tatra Mountains in the south, through Lower Silesia on the west with its large number of medieval castles, Lesser Poland with the great City Of Cracow and Magic Wieliczka Salt Mine,  Lubelskie Region on the east with hop fields spreading through the region,  to the Mazovia with its Lowland, the capital city Warsaw, and the oldest city in the region - Płock, and further - Podlachia with its woods,  Masuria with lakes, Pomerania at the shore of Baltic Sea and Polonia Maior on the west ... Poland offers the great heritage of regional culture, customs, food, beverages and of course - traditional music.

The history of folk music in Poland has its roots in the early medieval era. It has evolved from Slavic tribes in its own specific way and differently in every region. Music has been the companion of every daily activity, work, rituals such as weddings, courtships and harvests. And of course, it's full of love songs, folk dances and religious songs.

It was influenced by and mixed with music of other countries and cultures like Czech, Slovakian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Hungarian, or Jewish and Gypsy.

The traditional instruments have also evolved. The basis were string bowed instruments with traditional drums and vocals. At the turn of the 20th century the accordion established itself as a the main instrument.

In fact, Poland has long traditions of building accordions. In the late 19th century their constructions were small, like up to 10 sounds on the melody side, and 2 or 4 on the bass side.

Harmonia Trzyrzędowa - Three-row harmonium
One unique instrument in the accordion family was a Polish invention - "Harmonia Trzyrzędowa" - which can be translated as "Three-row harmonium". It has three rows of melody keyboards (could be compared to the three or more keyboards like on church pipe organs) and from 16 up to even 140 bass keyboard buttons! It become very popular from the beginning, and was produced through the first half of the 20th century. There were several dozens of manufactures all over the country, most notably - Bogucki, Mejer, Mościcki. With time, the constructions got more complicated, and the embellishments got more sophisticated.

Another Polish invention was the Pedal Harmony (polish "Pedałówka") a type of accordion with a pair of pumping pedals attached below. The instrumentalist was able to pump air into the instrument with by pedaling their feet. Firstly, these instruments were much louder, and secondly, the performer didn't get as tired as a regular accordionist, and could play for many hours. That's why - because of loudness and the unique pumping system - these instruments became popular and were often used to play at weddings, which in Polish tradition could last for the whole night, and even into the next day!

Pedałówka - Pedal Harmony accordion
Through the years, the constructions became more and more regular, and modern accordionists use regular accordions. There are some enthusiasts who work on renovations of old Polish instruments, and it is possible that some of them will try to reconstruct vintage Polish instruments.

Today, these traditions are cultivated, and in fact still growing. Young people want to know the customs of their ancestors, as well as their way of living, working and having fun. There are schools that teach playing traditional instruments. Krakow Music Academy gives students a chance to study and practice traditional instruments.

Also, the great contribution of the Polish artist Maria Pomianowska in researching and reconstructing playing techniques of old type string bowed instruments can not be overrated. She is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and pedagogue who educates young students of traditional music.  Her work includes research and curation of instruments from Europe, India, Japan, Iran, China and other parts of the world. She has collaborated with the famous Yo-Yo Ma while living in Japan (where she used to perform at Imperial Court in Kioto).

Maria Pomianowska

Maria Pomianowska has reconstructed many Polish folk songs and melodies using the notes from Henryk Oskar Kolberg, a Polish ethnographer, folklorist and composer who lived in 19th century. The greatest work of Henryk Oskar Kolberg is titled "Lud (Dzieła Wszystkie)", and it is a compilation of folk traditions from all of the Polish regions. It contains 12,000 folk songs, tales, proverbs, etc. The Heritage of Henryk Oskar Kolberg made the foundations for today's Polish folk ethnography.

Henryk Oskar Kolberg
The  traditional  folk music has strong position  in today's modern Polish society.  It can be found at every level in every situation.

Today's modern Poland sees a trend of searching for the roots of Polish culture -  including music, of course. Many young people are fascinated by it. One of the greatest old roots traditional musician and violin player, Jan Gaca, died in 2013 at the age of 80. He started to play in the early 1940's as a young boy and he performed until his death. He educated many young musicians and became a legend of Polish folk music.

We need to mention also the Warsaw Village Band (Polish: Kapela ze Wsi Warszawa), founded in 1997, who tend to combine traditional Polish folk music with modern elements. They have popularized  Polish folk outside the country, and were nominated for the "Newcomer" award in the BBC Radio 3 World Music Awards in 2003, and won it in 2004.

Most popular are of course adaptations of traditional music and folk sounds  as a source to popular music.  It can be found at different levels in the music of many bands and artists. For example, Golec uOrkiestra, founded in 1998 by twin brothers Paweł and Łukasz Golec. They are mixing folk music with rock and pop. At the time of writing, they have released 11 albums and sold over million copies.

Jan Gaca
There is also scene of Polish Folk Bands mixing Folk with hard rock or heavy metal - which is sometimes called Polish Pagan Metal.

Polish traditional music can be heard in many places and situations. It is often used at state celebrations, traditional fests like "Dożynki" - a Slavic harvest festival at the end of harvest season.

It is also quite popular to hire folk bands to perform at private parties.  It's even possible to arrange an entire wedding in folk style with traditional decorations, clothes, food  and of course, music.

There are many festivals, like "Festiwal Wszystkie Mazurki Swiata"  or "Skrzyżowanie Kultur" growing year by year.

Folk music at Polish wedding
Traditionally, the lyrics of Polish folk songs tell stories about love and romance, and daily hard work. They are full of descriptions of beautiful and distinct landscapes, fauna and flora. With our album made exclusively for Shockwave-Sound we would like to invite you for a musical journey through the beautiful regions of Poland.

We've  prepared these songs and dances, in traditional arrangements, with authentic instruments like:

  • Suka Biłgorajska (reconstructed from the 19th century watercolor painting),
  • Fidel Płocka (modern Fidels are based on the original 16th century instrument found during archaeological research near city of Płock),
  • Violins (instrument used  in our recordings is over 160 years old),
  • Frame Drum (original folk drum, made with selected wood, and membrane of sheep skin),
  • Accordion,
  • Female Vocals.

There are 13 songs and dances, and every one of them has a following origin:

Chłopaku - it is a love song, girl is singing about how happy she is to have a boy, and his closeness gives her strength for living.

Polka ferajna  - traditional Polka with the vocals in middle part that gives feel of  "Warsaw street music”.

Lipka -  beautiful song from the Lubelskie Region. The story tells about three brothers who fell in love in one girl. Eventually girl is forced by her parents to marry other man.

Obertas -  traditional dance, played mostly on weddings, and folk feasts. This one is specific for Radomskie Region.

Karczmareczka -  from the Karpatia area in the very south of Poland. Tells a story about  love, family life, marriage, and at the end reminds - not to lose it, because these are most important things in life.

Opocno - traditional dance from Region Opoczno.

Tokaj - influenced with Hungarian culture, the story about wine drinker and lover, who surely knows well how to live life to the fullest.

Kresowa Polka - Polka in the style and mood of east regions of Poland.

Idzie Dysc -  epic and sad story  from the Polish Tatra Mountains, this is the cry of a woman waiting for her man to come back from war,  but it will never happen...

Polecka na Łoberka - traditional mix of two styles - Polka and Oberek, frequently used at weddings to make guests more hungry and definitely more thirsty after dancing,  and finally to make wedding guests party even harder :)

Komu dzwonią -  traditional song from the streets of Warsaw, the story of heavy drinker who after his death doesn't want a regular funeral, but just want people to drink at his grave.

W moim ogódecku -  from the Lubelskie Region  -  a love song, about courtship, flowers, and feelings.

Polka Przytkana - traditional song from the east of Poland.

These songs could be the "soundtrack of life" through the years of traditions in Poland, but still there’s much more to discover in Polish culture and heritage. You can find it out by visiting any of the beautiful regions of Poland and experience Polish hospitality.  Meantime, please take a while and listen to the music that flows straight from the heart of Poland.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Incredible scenery from Norway set to our music

Talented and hard working videographer Jan Inge Larsen has produced an impressive nature video in 4K resolution, from the Helgeland district in the north of Norway. In this beautiful video you can see amazing northern lights and the beauty of the wide open landscapes and fjords of Norway over 4 seasons.

The video is set to our music track "Knights and Saints", composed by Rafael Krux.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

United Nations project with music donated from Shockwave-Sound

We were contacted by the Manhattan Multicultural Counseling, a United Nations project working with youths and human rights. They asked us to donate a music track free of charge for their video about youths memorizing all 30 United Nations declarations on human rights, and we were happy to work with them.

Here is the video, created by Max Hollander of Maximillian Productions.



The music track playing is our track, "How Beautiful Life", composed by Ferenc Hegedus.

If you are a registered Non Profit, non political, volunteering organization or charitable project and you can document your charity / non-profit status, we may donate free royalty-free music to your project. We like to support worthy causes. We will always want to learn something about your project first, though. And no political parties. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Three brand new, royalty-free Jazz music albums


Hi all, we are very happy to announce the release of three new Jazz albums today:

It's worth noting that the composer behind all the music on these albums is Dmitriy Lukyanov, who has chosen not to be represented by any PRO (Performing Rights Organization), so his music is free of any requirements to obtain additional licensing from the Performing Rights Organization in your country, to play this music in public and in broadcasting (radio etc). This music is entirely royalty-free. The one license you purchase from Shockwave-Sound.com will cover you for all usage areas, including public play etc.

We hope you'll enjoy all that great Jazz music from the talented Dmitriy, and find this music useful for your media projects or in-public music requirements.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

10 Music Documentaries to Binge-Watch on a Free Weekend

Many films have been made about music and the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle of those who produce it. Here we list, in no particular order, some of the best and most successful music documentaries to hit the screen, both big and small, over the last five decades. So pick a weekend, get some snacks and beer, lie on the couch and start streaming!

Please use the comments box to add to the list and tell us about your own personal favourites.

It Might Get Loud (2008)

White Stripes’ Jack White meets U2’s The Edge meets Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page in this American documentary by Davis Guggenheim.Sitting around in comfy chairs, these three exulted Guitar Gods chat about their techniques, influences and humble beginnings with interviews, live appearances and found footage from their early careers up to the present day.

At one point, each guitarist teaches the other two how to play one of their band’s tunes. I Will Follow (U2), Dead Leaves and The Dirty Ground (White Stripes), and In My Time of Dying (Led Zep) being the three chosen tracks.

The film boasts some classic moments for hardcore axe fiends. Jack White making a guitar in real time from a piece of wood, some wire and a broken bottle. Jimmy Page gurning away with a huge grin while listening to Link Wray’s Rumble. And The Edge plugging in his favourite axe as he warns the camera crew, “it might get loud.”
In the US, The film received a wide release by Sony Picture Classics on August 14, 2009.



Amy (2015)

Featuring lots of found footage alongside interviews and concert film, Amy is the tale of a private, often shy girl with a huge talent and addictive nature that ultimately led to her demise. The film depicts Winehouse’s struggle with substance abuse and the effect of its profound grip on her decisions. But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are a lot of scenes dedicated to the celebration of her career and music including a number of previously unheard tracks and unseen performances.

To date the film has received 33 nominations and has won a total of 30 film awards, including for Best European Documentary at the 28th European Film Awards. Best Documentary at the 69th British Academy Film Awards, Best Music Film at the 58th Grammy Awards, the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 88th Academy Awards and for Best Documentary at the 2016 MTV Movie Awards. The success of the film and the music from soundtrack also led Winehouse her second posthumous nomination at the 2016 BRIT Awards for "British Female Solo Artist".

The Wrecking Crew (2008)

The Monkees, The Beach Boys, Phil Spectre’s Wall of Sound. This film is where you learn (if you weren’t already aware) that most of your favourite tunes of the 1960’s were not played by the credited musicians. In fact most of these famous songs were performed in the studio by a group of expert session musicians who became known as The Wrecking Crew.

Your jaw will drop as one after another, the surviving members list off their sessions. Good Vibrations, Wichita Lineman, California Dreaming, Mr. Tambourine Man, You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling, Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water to name but a few.

And why? Because The Wrecking Crew’s ranks include a variety of guitarists, drummers, pianists and orchestral players whose combined musicianship is beyond compare. So why spend all afternoon trying to get a take from a young, fledgling guitarist or a drummer who can’t play in time? Draft in expert session players like The Wrecking Crew and get your song finished in one take!




Sound City (2013)

Produced and directed by Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighter’s frontman Dave Grohl, this film documents the story of Sound City, a recording studio tucked away in the San Fernando Valley amidst rows of dilapidated warehouses and disused buildings.

The little-known recording studio housed an analogue 28 channel 8028 Neve mixing console and had a reputation for drums, giving the studio recordings a particularly punchy sound. Artists such as Nirvana, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Rage Against The Machine and Slipknot all recorded ground breaking music at the studio. The film tells the story of Sound City from its very early days in the late sixties to its closure in 2011.

Buena Vista Social Club (1999)

A beautifully warm film by Wim Wenders documenting Ry Cooder’s ambitious undertaking to reunite a group of legendary Cuban musicians to record an album and perform three concerts. Two in Amsterdam and one in New York. The film includes interviews with each of the main performers. About their early lives in Cuba, their careers in music and the relative obscurity that followed.
There are also some wonderful scenes of the musicians (many in their 70’s and 80’s at the time of recording) traveling abroad, some for the very first time.

The film spawned a hit album of the same name which includes songs by the likes of Ibrahim Ferrer, Ruben Gonzalez, Eliades Ochoa, Compay Segundo and Omara Portuondo.




Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii (1972) 

It doesn’t get much more proggy than Floyd’s 1972 film which centres around footage of them performing in an ancient Roman Amphitheatre in Pompeii, Italy. Filmed over four days, the Floyd are playing a typical live set, but there is no audience, somehow giving the film an other worldly feel, intensified by their hot and sweaty semi naked daytime performances. For gearheads it’s a great opportunity to ogle at their stacks of amps and speakers, miles of cables and classic guitars, drums and organs all being thrashed by the band to powerful effect.

Filming was dogged by technical issues. The power supply in the amphitheatre was insufficient to run the masses of equipment. So in the end a lengthy cable was fed from the local town hall to supply electricity.

With the power supply restored, the Floyd play versions of Echoes, A Saucerful of Secrets and One Of These Days mixed with interviews, rehearsals and, in later versions of the film, studio footage from the Abbey Road sessions for Dark Side Of The Moon.


Classic Albums (various)

We cannot list music documentaries without a mention for the greatest music documentary series of them all, Classic Albums. The TV series made by Isis Productions and distributed by Eagle Rock Entertainment.

The format of the show is as follows. The music, and its production, is dissected by the musicians and/or producer, playing the multitrack recordings and singling out the separate recording tracks on the mixing desk. Then the individual musicians play back pieces, which are blended with the original recording. Almost all songs on the albums are meticulously examined, focusing almost entirely on the music itself, its inspiration, composition and realisation.

Each programme highlights the emotional process involved in making music. The highs, the lows, the addictions, the obsessions. Everything is laid bare and examined in minute detail. A truly great series for all musicians interested in the process behind making music.

Classic Albums include recordings by Elton John, Steely Dan, Motorhead, The Sex Pistols, Pink Floyd, The Who, Lou Reed, Iron Maiden, Nirvana, Stevie Wonder, Fleetwood Mac and many more.

Cracked Actor (1974)

This 53 minute BBC documentary film depicts a post-Ziggy Bowie, emancipated and becoming addled by drug use, but remaining in control, hugely charismatic and beautifully fragile as he tours 70’s America. Languishing on the back seat of a huge limo, being hustled in and out of hotel rooms, appearing on countless TV and radio shows as the US tries to come to terms with this strange pale alien and his alluring, captivating musical paeans to the American psyche.

Drinking from a milk carton in the back of a Limo as they speed through the desert, The Thin White Duke is asked how he’s picked up on so many of the themes and culture of America during his stay. Bowie replies, “there’s a fly in my milk, a foreign body. And he’s getting a lot of milk. That’s kind of how I feel.”

The film includes concert footage from the ambitiously staged Diamond Dogs tour mainly filmed at the Los Angeles Universal Amphitheatre on September 2nd 1974.

Although not widely available (it still remains officially unreleased), this film is worth tracking down for all Station to Station/Young Americans period Bowie fans.

Searching For Sugar Man (2012)

This is the incredible story of Sixto Rodriguez, a little known singer/songwriter who had gained almost mythical status in South Africa despite remaining entirely unknown in his native USA.
The film details the efforts of two Cape Town fans in the late 1990s, Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman and Craig Bartholomew Strydom, who set out to discover whether the rumours of his suicide were true, or if not, what had become of the singer.

The film takes many fascinating twists and turns as the super-fans uncover more and more surprising details about the singer’s life.

What’s not surprising is that the film won both a BAFTA and an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature of 2013.

Tragically the writer, Malik Bendjelloul committed suicide in 2014.

Some Kind of Monster (2004)

All is not well in the Metallica camp. Their long term bassist Jason Newsted has quit the band and frontman James Hetfield is on the verge of a breakdown. His unwieldy ego and dark mood swings are over riding the band’s efforts to record a new album. Enter Phil Towe, a therapist and psychoanalyst drafted in by the management company (at $40,000 a month) in an attempt to reconcile the band’s differences. But things go from bad to worse and Hetfield checks in to a rehab centre to tackle his depression and alcoholism head on, delaying the recording of the album by around 18 months.

Even if you’re not a huge fan of Metallica’s music, this film is highly recommended for its candid insight into the turbulent roller coaster lifestyle of a mega rich rock group. Including a recruitment scene where new Bassist Robert Trujillo is welcomed into the band with a cheque for a million dollars!




And here’s a list of 5 more music documentary films you must binge-watch on your next free weekend…


  • Woodstock (1970)
  • Festival Express (2003)
  • Kurt Cobaine: Montage Of Heck (2015)
  • Dig! (2004)
  • Joy Division (2006)