Shockwave-Sound Blog and Articles
New website feature: My Orders

New website feature: My Orders

Our new “My orders” page

Dear Shockwave-Sound.com users,

This week we have launched a new website feature: “My orders“. This new page allows you to get access to all your current and past orders – with download links for all your orders.

Our site has been online for almost 11 years now, and unlike many other sites, we have resisted the temptation to start with “user accounts”. At Shockwave-Sound.com, anybody can come in, place an order, get their product, and be on their way. We do not require people to sign up to a “user account”, with validating your email address, registering all your personal details, coming up with a user name, then forgetting your password between each visit, thus having to use the “forgot your password” process to have the password emailed to you, only to find that the darn email with that password in it doesn’t arrive, so you’re unable to log in and unable to get on with your day.

None of this happens at Shockwave-Sound.com, simply because we don’t require people to sign up for an “account” with us before they can place an order. However, there is a flip side to this. Because you haven’t registered a user account, all your past orders aren’t “connected” to each other in the same way that they would have been if they had been attached to your user account. Each order is just a separate entity, without “belonging” to a particular user or identity in a database. And for this reason, there has not been any real way for customers to come back to our site later and get an overview of their past orders, with access to past invoices, license documents and download links.

We now feel that we’ve come up with a good solution for this. By going to the “My orders” page, you can input an email address and a date range. When you click “Submit”, our entire order log is searched, and if any orders found to match that email address, an email is automatically sent out to that email address with a full order history, and access to download links.

For obvious reasons, the email with download links etc. can only be sent to the actual email address that the order was placed under. So if you placed an order 2 years ago under the email address abc@abc.com, you have to type that exact email address into the form, and the order history is then emailed to that address. If you no longer have access to that email address, and you need to have the order history sent to a different address instead, then you have to ask us to help you with that.

We hope, and think, that this feature will be helpful to all of our customers, old and new. Let me also take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy new Year!

Artist feature: Pawel Blaszczak

Artist feature: Pawel Blaszczak

Pawel Blaszczak is a composer who has been working with Shockwave-Sound.com and our internal music publishing company Lynne Publishing, for a good few years now. He has been responsible for producing some of the best selling tracks at Shockwave-Sound.com, including the track “Day After Day” which until recently held the position of the most often licensed track here in our music library. We decided to catch up with Pawel in his home city of Wroclaw, Poland, for an interview about composing music for a stock music library and about sound and music in general.

Click here to listen to some of Pawel’s music while you are reading this interview:

Pawel, can you tell me a little bit about your background story as a composer and producer?

I started composing back when I was 15. I was really impressed by a good friend of mine who could play the piano. I genuinely liked it so I decided to give it a go too. My first compositions were done on a piano and Commodore 64. I’m basically a self-taught though I did take private lessons in composition. Later on I bought my first synthesizer and composed on Commodore Amiga. One of my concerts was held at the students festival in the old square in Poznan. In 1998 I received my first order to compose music for a video game developed by Techland, “Crime Cities”. I’ve been bound with the company ever since and I work at Techland not only as a composer but also the Audio Director. I’ve worked on almost all games developed by Techland with “Chrome”, “Xpand Rally”, Call of Juarez”, “Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood”, but also children game series “Pet Racer” and “Pet Soccer” among others. I’ve often been cooperating with Adam Skorupa with whom I worked „The Witcher” video game and various other projects. Since 2005 I’ve been bound with Shockwave-Sound.com. I’m currently working on a horror game “Dead Island”.

I’ve heard before that you played different instruments including guitar, but I’ve noticed in your latest tracks that you seem to concentrate a lot on the sound of the piano. Can you tell us a bit about which instruments you prefer, and how you feel that the different instruments work in different types of music?

The piano is my primary instrument. I love that sound and the possibilities it gives me. Currently I compose most of my tracks on the piano and it is my first choice. I used to compose a lot of music for synthesizers as well as electric-orchestral music. In the nineties I really enjoyed the sound of Limp Bizkit and Rammstein so I started to learn how to play the guitar. I’m doing best with the riffs on my 7-string Ibanez with the Mesa Boogie amplifier. Guitar, however, is my second favorite instrument.

I know that you have worked as a composer for several video games. In what way would you say that composing for a stock music library is different from composing music for a project like a video game?

Video games require composing the music in a certain specified style. For Call of Juarez, for instance, most of the compositions were guitar-based or orchestral in the styles of Ennio Morricone or Country, Blues or classical orchestra. For stock music I choose a specific overall style that suits me so, for example, light ambient and compose the entire track in this line. Or simply sit down on a given day and compose a track I’m in the mood for usually it’s in one of the styles of stock music. Such approach allows for a lot of freedom to compose a track that feels right for the inspiration and mood one has on that particular day. So if I’m in a good mood I will compose a light and pleasant track, if my mood is slightly off I’m inclined to compose a more dramatic and dark track. This is, of course, more in respect of the draft of a track. Afterwards the production process begins and that draft is polished to create a full-fledged work suitable for publication at shockwave-sound.com.

What is the latest piece of music production equipment, or instrument, that you bought yourself? And what is next on your wish-list?

One of my latest purchases is the sounds library, Audio Bro LASS Strings. Excellent sounding solo violin in the ensemble. Also, Evolve Mutations 2, an outstanding library of electronic sounds. My wish-list currently includes the tremendously interesting Korg SV1. At the moment I have Roland RD700SX for the main piano sound. However, I would like to add more variety to the piano sounds and Korg is significantly different from Roland in this respect. Moreover Korg has fantastically sounding electric pianos. It is very likely that I will also purchase the orchestra library, Symphobia 2, next year.

Which two of your tracks are the best-selling ones here at Shockwave-Sound.com and do you have a theory on why those tracks sell more than others?

Day After Day and Running for Freedom. Truth be told, I have no idea why these two are the best-selling tracks. They definitely count among my favorite ones. When composing tracks I always try to make them as good and original as possible. But it’s the listeners who make the final decision. I’m always glad when I create music that I enjoy myself. I always try to give the best effort and don’t cut corners in this respect. Often before the final track is composed there are several earlier versions of it. On some occasions I discarded track arrangements because I believed I could do a better job. I don’t consider stock music to be some kind of additional less valuable music. I would gladly see many of my tracks included in my album that may see the day of light sometime in the future. I keep pushing my own limits.

Do you sometimes play live concerts, with a band or by yourself? Have you done so in the past?

For quite a while now I’ve been toying with the idea of live concerts. I’m constantly short on time to do that. I used to play concerts and I love it. Maybe I will finally manage to make that happen. Recently I’ve been trying to discipline myself to arrange for it. I have a simple ensemble in mind: a piano, solo violin and cello. Maybe a female vocalist, single synthesizer and small drum set. As soon as I’ve managed to organize it, I’m convinced that the first concerts would be held in Wroclaw where I currently live.

Which piece of work / project have you done, that you are most proud of? What is “your finest work” in your opinion?

I’m proud of most of my music currently posted at Shockwave-Sound.Com. There’s a lot of my personal style in them, especially in the lighter tracks, such as Day After Day, Waiting for Tomorrow and Dance with the Wind. The music from other projects I consider successful include the soundtrack for the “Call of Juarez” series and the music I co-composed with Adam Skorupa for The Witcher. I also think highly of the score for “The Kinematograph” directed by Tomasz Baginski and “The Ark” directed by Grzegorz Jonkajtys.

What music / composers / artists / bands do you like to listen to when you’re not working?

I generally like to listen to good music regardless of the style or composer. It would make a long list but I mostly focus on the tracks that I enjoy rather than composers, performers or entire albums. I like Harry Gregson-Williams for the first part of Narnia and Michal Lorenc for the “Bandyta”. I like the Kronos Quartet for the score for “Heat” and Lisa Gerrard. I love BT for the “Monster” OST (Editor’s note; OST = Original Sound Track).

What advice would you give to somebody who is a home / amateur composer and would like to take the step up, to have their music sold as royalty-free music and make a living on it?

First of all not to treat this type of music as the kind one doesn’t have to try or make their best effort. This music has its listeners and they choose it according to their preferences. They will mostly select what they like and has music artistic value. Therefore there’s no space here to make compromises. It needs to be a very well composed music.

And with that we thank Pawel for his time, and thank him for being such a great contributor to our music library. If you’re interested in hearing more of Pawel’s music, then this link will bring up a list of all his tracks, of course all available to license and download as royalty free music.

Enhancing creative workflow with Sonar, Part 1

Enhancing creative workflow with Sonar, Part 1

By Johan Hynynen

Introduction

Making music with a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) involves knowing both hardware and software very well — you just can’t escape music technology. This can be a show stopper for our creativity when we need to write music. Many times we’re also working to match short deadlines, so with that in mind I will try to give you a few tips on how you easily can enhance your workflow and creative output working with Sonar. Even though this article is written with a regular song kind of project in mind, most ideas, tips or tricks can be implemented while working with voice talents making jingles and audio books, or even sound design for computer games. As other DAWs have similar functions as Sonar’s you might be able in applying some tips in other applications as well. The tips described in this article are straight forward to get around and can easily help you sorting things out so that you can spend more time making music and less time dabbling around your software.

Project Templates

Most of us come back to a certain frame work where we like to start making music. It could be a few channels loaded with guitar amp plug-ins or a sampler loaded with a good sounding grand piano. Instead of recreating all of these instances of soft synths, channels and effects you can make a template that will automatically recreate favorite your setup.

To create a project template, simply open up an empty project and start creating the channels, buses, effects and soft synths you want to include. Then go to the file menu and select “Save As” and then choose “Template” in the menu labeled “Save as type”. In order for your templates to appear in the dialogue window at start up, you also need to save them down to the right folder. Which folder holds your templates can be set by going to the “Options” menu, then “Global” and finally, click the “Folders” tab. Your project templates are stored in the folder selected in the “Templates” menu.

Make a template for all the different kinds of music you usually record or produce. You may want to create one for rock band, another for ambient music and so on. Also create a template that uses smaller sample libraries and less CPU demanding soft synths. Depending on your computer’s specifications you could choose a setup that you can work with without freezing or bouncing tracks. While writing, an economy setup usually works well and you can always replace the temporary sounds with your best samples and soft synths during the mixdown of the song.

Track Templates

You may have been trying to figure out how you managed get that particular sound on a previous recording of yours? Of course, going back to that project and write down the settings and which plug-ins that where used does the trick, but with track templates you have access to all your favorite sounds in seconds. By saving a particular channel which includes, let’s say, a guitar amp plug-in, compressor, equalizer settings and sends as a track template, you can easily recall all the settings.

To save a track as a track template right click on any track in the track pane and choose “Save As Track Template”. To load a template, simply right click in the tracks pane and choose “Insert From Track Template”. Select your track template and it opens up all plug-ins together with parameters associated to the track including sends and all effects.

Of course, as you move along saving more and more of your golden settings you build quite a library of track templates. Listen back to your recordings and take notes on elements you find particularly appealing – then open up those projects and locate and save your channels as track templates. Your favorite sound is now only a couple of mouse clicks away.

Track Manager

When your track count gets high you might find it hard to navigate through them all. In most cases you aren’t working on all tracks at the same time and therefore, you can use the track manager to temporarily clean things up a little. What the track manager really does is to help you select the tracks you want to be visible and deselect the ones you want to hide. Once your selection has been made the track view in Sonar will only show the selected tracks.

If you arrange your tracks with the track manager you’ll want to check back to it time to time, otherwise you might start thinking there are tracks missing (which isn’t the case of course as they’ve only been hidden). Naming your tracks well is also crucial if you want to keep things tidy. Bring up the track manager by pressing “M”.

Track Folders

Using track folders is a clever way in handling many tracks of the same sort. If, for example, the vocal arrangement of your song includes more than a few tracks (lead, harmonies, overdubs etc) then placing them in a track folder is an easy way in making them take up less screen space. Sometimes the vocals alone on a song can extend up to ten, and even more channels, and while you work on other elements of the same song you really don’t need to see the vocal tracks. To create a track folder, right click in the tracks pane to the right of the inspector field, and choose “Create Track Folder”. Then drag the tracks you want to organize to the track folder. By clicking the plus sign you open the folder so that it reveals its contents, and by clicking the minus sign while the folder is open, it hides the tracks inside it.

Track folders that seem fairly obvious to create could be drum tracks, guitars or vocals but you can of course set up track folders as you like.

Markers

Use markers to point out certain sections in your arrangement that are particularly important. You may want to have a marker placed for each verse, chorus and bridge, but you can also use markers to point out a particular section you want to rework or change but have decided to do later. In order to add a marker, right click the time ruler and then choose “Insert Marker” (or press F11).

Colors

You can use colors to separate tracks and sections from each other. One idea is to give the choruses, let’s say, color blue and the verses color red. Or, you could make certain instrument groups have a specific color.

Last Words

Getting things sorted out in your DAW is means a lot for your workflow — but not everything. Try to keep things organized on your physical desk as well. Don’t leave things in mess, make sure you have note pads and working pens so that you’re always ready to take some notes or write down ideas. Some people like to use regular sketch pads for keeping track of thoughts and to do lists, some use a Wordpad document or similar, some use a white board while some prefer to use a PDA. Other things such as a good armchair can definitely make you feel more comfortable while working.

Deadlines can be extremely pressing if we can’t organize are daily work. Make sure you plan your day well and that you get things done. Losing work due to a failing disk can be disastrous but also unnecessary. There are plenty of backup tools out there and extra storage is cheap, so there is little excuse for not doing backups frequently. I’m using Acronis True Image which is scheduled to do a backup every day. Deadlines must be met, and losing a client due to a failing disk would be quite awkward – not to mention all the love and effort put in each piece of work. Therefore do your backups well, you will feel much safer knowing that you can’t lose too many hours of work no matter what.

Some of the tips above might seem obvious, but they’re very often overlooked, so I thought that a little reminder could be well in use.

About the author: Johan Hynynen, aka
Giannis, is a composer, producer and instrumentalist who is producing music
in a wide variety of different genres for TV, computer games, corporate
films, films and other productions. Look out for his label Akoume Music
Productions which not only will produce high quality scores for film, TV
and computer games, but will also produce Giannis’ chill-out solo project.
His website is at www.akoume.com

New music highlights at Shockwave-Sound.com

New music highlights at Shockwave-Sound.com

At Shockwave-Sound.com we keep adding new Royalty Free Music tracks every week, sometimes several times per week, so we aren’t going to write about it here every time we post some new music, but we’ve added a few tracks recently that I think are a bit special, so I wanted to give them an extra mention.

The highly talented Polish composer Pawel Blaszczak has contributed a new, really beautiful track called Waiting For Tomorrow. It’s a light but emotional, sincere, piano based, semi-orchestral “ambient pop” track, full of wonder, beauty and amazement. It’s a “must hear” track, really!

American Jazz bassist Patrick Prouty has sent in this really nice Christmas track, O Little Town of Bethlehem. It’s a folky, earthy, slightly country inspired, and actually a bit “old sounding” rendition of this Christmas classic. It made me think of the music from the film “O Brother, Where Art Thou” with it’s charming, imperfect vocals and it’s subdued live guitar and bass.

Those were only two of the many new tracks we added yesterday. On the main front page for Shockwave-Sound.com you can always hear the 30 latest tracks in a kind of “radio player” that plays one track after the other. We hope you’ll like it.

Christmas hand bells music

Christmas hand bells music

This week we’ve had the pleasure of adding some rather different and interesting music to Shockwave-Sound.com. Christmas is coming up and, like every year, the interest for royalty-free Christmas music is peaking around October/November time – I guess that’s when everybody are working on their Christmas projects, interactive Christmas greeting cards, online Flash Christmas animations and so on.

This year the creative couple Gavin Courtie & Liz Radford have completed a whole collection of recordings of traditional Christmas melodies using antique church hand bells, like the ones seen on the image to the left.

Upon hearing these wonderful bells and how nice they sounded with Christmas melodies like “Jingle Bells”, “Good King Wenceslas”, “Silent Night”, “Joy to the World”, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and several other classics, we decided to catch Gavin for a quick interview:

How did this whole thing come about, Gavin?

“These hand bells belong to a friend of ours here in Wimborne, Dorset, England. He’s now in his 70’s and has been ringing both church bells and handbells for most of his life. This set of hand bells belonged to his father, who lived in Essex, and they are English bells dating to around 100 years ago. Although some of the leather handles are slightly past their best due to age, the bells themselves have a lovely tone, which is why we thought it would be good to record them. Liz is an experienced bell ringer (the big bells in church towers..) and she’s also rung this set of hand bells with a band of ringers, in orchestral settings and Christmas performances.

The arrangements we sent you are all written for a band of ringers to play, and we recorded Liz playing the parts here in our studio. Actually, ringing them is quite a skill. Most players ring 2 bells at a time, one in each hand. The cleverer ones ring up to four at a time, holding two in each hand, the trick being to ring one bell in the vertical plane, the other in a horizontal. Difficult!”

So there you have it – a little bit of background on how this really nice royalty-free Christmas music was created, and here are the links to each of the tracks in our library, if you would like to have a listen:

And with that, we do indeed wish all our customers and visitors a very merry Christmas!