There is never a bad day for a bit of country music and at Shockwave-Sound.com
we are lucky and privileged to be able to work with some fine country
artists, making their music available to license for for Apps and Games,
TV and Commercials, Videos and Internet
etc. We have just been adding some new country music to the site today,
and at the time of writing, we have a catalog of:
* 91 Vocal country tracks:
* 332 Instrumental country tracks:
By: Piotr Koczewski
Polish – Lithuanian Connection
Now I would like to share some of my personal experience, summarizing in a few paragraphs my achievements as the composer (hope it may serve as an inspiration for some of you). In May I had the pleasure of giving a presentation on music making and on sound to the Lithuanian students. I started by playing live some of the music from a Modern Warfare 2 trailer. Then I showed the notation for the winds section of my own piece “Dust of War”. Having finished the piece, I was astounded to get an applause from the audience. It was quite a surprise. Well, I was so tired that I seriously considered the possibility that it was merely a hallucination. Apart from that, I did not really expect the piece I presented to be inspiring for people of my generation. Then I created a 30-second tune from scratch in about 5 minutes, explaining all the time what instruments I was playing. I got another round of applause when I saved the music as an mp3 file and replayed it. I also answered some questions, for example about how long I had been composing, or if I had had any formal training (I said I had had not, which got me another round of applause). I finished with an animation by Aleksander Wasilewski with my music (which was received with laughter rather than fear).
Piotr Koczewski and Latvian Translator
My Polish connection came during a business trip to Wroclaw (I was negotiating with an investor about an MMORPG), which I used as an occasion to meet my fellow composer Piotr Szwach. We spent time until 5 am composing war game music, discussing about equipment, music, computers and exchanging experience. I think both of us learned something new.
From Independent projects to AAA games
If you ever get an e-mail asking you to make a sample of music for an “AAA” game teaser, enjoy the very fact that you were contacted (even if they have to postpone publishing the teaser trailer for technical reasons), because a lot of musicians dream of cooperating with big companies that work on large-scale projects.
At the beginning, I’ve treated my adventure with music as a hobby, something like Sunday fishing at my favourite lake. After some time of distributing my tracks to friends, I’ve noticed that they like my work, what’s more – one of them persuaded me to create my own album (to my own surprise it got high rates and good reviews). The initial problem with creating music was: Who will listen to it? And at some point you realise that someone is actually listening to your music – and what is even more – he is willing to pay for it!
Take advantage of every day to learn something new. After finishing work recall your music. If you can do it and you remember it – congratulations! It’s one of major keys to success in video game music creation.
However, before you decide that your work is hundred percent finished and ready, listen to it a few more times. If you don’t have any objections after that, you can send it to your publisher or boss. Usually, the next day after recording you can hear your shortcomings – it’s a normal sign of creativity, all it means that you strive for perfection!
Learn what ASAP is!
If your employer expects you to do a music track, and in the conversation, or an e-mail, he uses an acronym of ASAP (as soon as possible, in case you did not know), then focus on the recording (even if the mess in your kitchen resembles that from the movie “7” and there is a family meeting tomorrow). By sending even a sample of the tune (1 minute) you will calm the nerves of your boss, who wants nothing more than to yell “Jetson, you`re Fired!”.
The Power of Marketing
It is a good idea to appear on expos, conferences and meetings related to Game Development and presenting yourself, spreading your business card or demo CDs (in my case, several free singles from my Wasteland Theme album increased the interest in me). Therefore you should stay in touch with your old team, employers and companies, because someday you may receive a call / an e-mail with a job offer. In game development, as a rule, clients are working with people they remember, and with whom they had no problems during the cooperation (the more contacts you establish, the greater chances of employment you have). It’s highly probable that some past occupation will result in a contract for another game in the future. Even if you had submitted an application, and you didn’t get a job because they took someone else, it does not mean that they will not call you again in a few months, because they remembered you and your savoir-vivre). Be open to constructive criticism (and be critical of yourself). Never be afraid to alter or add some instruments to your track, even if you’ve been working on it for three days. Learn something new every day. Experiment with instruments. Creating the “Little Boy” track, related to the 6th of August 1945 (nuclear attack on Hiroshima), I was wondering how to capture the character of that event using only orchestra. When I was choosing suitable instruments, Bass Wagner’s Drum caught my attention (I used the sound of scraping and light, long beats for the sound of the shockwave).
There is another thing that I discovered creating the WWII music. French horns played long, depending on the velocity, can imitate an Air Raid Siren Sound. A few months ago I racked my brains on how James Hannigan created the electronic background effect in “Yoriko Theme”. After an hour of experimenting with effects and rhythm of the instrument called shaker, I finally found out how to record something closely resembling the original song. Not only did I find a good way to create background music, but also discovered how to make the sounds of futuristic computers.
For about five years I have been devoting myself to an ongoing effort of boosting my keyboard skills, expanding my knowledge of orchestra articulation, and continuously developing information technology. After so many years of working with music, I finally became a recognizable person in the game industry (but before I achieved my present status, I had gathered experience in amateur projects). Professionals from all around the world write to me and invite me to music expos. One very motivating thing for me was the positive opinion about my music, which came from a western musician who creates music for commercials and AAA games. As I already mentioned, I once had the chance to create the music for a teaser trailer of an AAA game. Then, after a few months, I got one more such offer – for the E3 expo too! By the end of May, I was to create the soundtrack for a teaser trailer for Afterfall Insanity, which meant I had to meet the team in a studio to discuss the music. E3 – this acronym left me sleepless for days. Even though I did not make it in time for the presentation (someone else had to fill in for me), I created a few versions of the music for the teaser trailer, which served as my demo reel.
The making of Afterfall Insanity Trailer Music
It is also a very pleasant feeling to receive good reviews of your work from the project manager. I was pleasantly surprised to hear from the head of the Russian game project PostWorld that after their last meeting they decided that they had to have my music at any cost. For an unbelievable moment I felt like I was the new Hans Zimmer. When strangers ask me what I do for living, I proudly answer: “I create music for computer games” (so far I have not discovered why there is always a slight expression of surprise on their faces).
Post-World Unity Engine and Gameplay Screenshot
Piotr Koczewski`s Home Studio
When I play games I sometimes add my own music in my head. Some ideas I write down as notes, for the future use. A few years ago I was supposed to create music for a Space Opera comic. Unfortunately, the piece, which I thought was perfect for it, was rejected. However, a few years later it found its place in another project.
Finally, a few pieces of advice from me: listen to music as much as you can. After some time you will start recognizing instruments and be able to place them on the world map. As for the most important advice, which served me well in the music design (changed the way I work) and life in general – spend money to develop, not to impress (Michael Dell). After a few years of work I try to overcome my own limitations. For example, I created a 13-minute piece (inspired by Modern Warfare 2) for my second Wasteland Theme album. Remember to sign up on portals like Linkedin, Myspace, Reverbnation and to create your own homepage and keep it up to date. In the future, in order to protect your music copyrights, you should register a copyright for your tracks in organizations such as PRS (Europe) or similar. Remember to create your web page portfolio and keep it updated.
I hope that my tips will be helpful, and we will meet at the Video Games Live concert this year.
You may also want to read part 1 of this article.
About the author:
Piotr Koczewski started
working in game development in 2006 as a Musician and Sound Designer. In
2008 he released an ambient music album inspired by post-nuclear SF, called
“Wasteland Theme”. He co-organized in 2009 the Video Games Live
concert in Poland. You can listen Piotr`s music at his website www.piotrkoczewski.com
The good people reading this blog may get the impression that all we’re doing is to remove tracks, and not add much new stuff. We do not post on the blog here every time we publish new music, because we publish new music all the time. Every single week, and some times several times per week – why, even up to multiple batches in a single day – of new, fresh material. We can’t post about it here on the blog every time we release new tracks. For each old track that is sent off into the annals of history, about 20 new ones arrive. So it’s not like we’re downsizing.
Why do we do this? Because it’s central to our mission and our whole way of business, that our site does not start to “sound old”. Remembering when we first started out in 2000, there were already some libraries out there with a lot of music that “just sounded old”. We refuse to become one of those. So we remove old tracks.
Today we are saying goodbye to the following tracks that have been in our library for years. We thank them for their service. If you need to license one of these tracks, please contact us. We can set you up.
- A New Love
- A Spot of Light Entertainment
- As the World Turns
- At Leisure
- Australia Didgeridoo
- Awaken the Stone Shadows
- Background One
- Bat and Pad
- Beautiful Paradise
- Blanche Louve
- Blues Rock Stings
- Body And Blues
- Burning Sun
- Cruise the Strip
- DF Sweating
- Dark Corn
- Digitale 2
- Dinner Groove
- Elektrostep Idents
- Fast Food
- Full Speed
- Funk Rock Stings
- Funny Business
- Go Ahead
- Guitarra In Bb Minor
- Hidden Past
- In Waiting
- Irish Rose
- Kitchen Garden
- Kool Krush
- Le Passage
- Making a Pledge
- Message on the Mirror
- Mind Your Matter
- Morning Ballad
- NYC Delivery
- Naked Blues
- Nashville Bound
- New Ideas
- New Orleans Funk
- No Trace
- On the Town
- Open Seas
- Pineapple Fizz
- Ray of Sun
- Round Trip
- Scotland Bagpipes
- Sensual Noon
- Sexy and Edgy
- Shock Her
- Single Combat
- Spanish Mood
- Spanish Reggaeton
- Streaming From My Heart
- Surfin the Tube
- Tender Love
- The Andalucian Incident
- The Cat Kladniew
- The Element 47
- The Golden Age
- The Open Road
- The Unknown Superhero Chase
- The Y Factor
- Town Beat
- Up And Away
- Waiting Time
- Wake Up
- Wallys Place
- X Agent
- XM Modules by Bjorn Lynne
- XM Modules by Adam Skorupa
The absolute beginner’s guide to the Orchestral MIDI Mockup
By Thomas James Slater
Like many composers in the more analog field of pencil and paper, I was entirely unaware of the other side of music production. For years I thought that the bleep and bloop of midi, compliments of my music notation software, were all I could get from a computer and the only way to get a decent recording was to have it performed on stage. As I discovered a few years ago, this is most assuredly not the case.
Rather than give a long history of the leaps and bounds of music production and midi innovation, I’m going to go over the basics of producing a midi mockup in a short amount of time for the least amount of money. This is written chiefly for aesthetic purposes in mind, not to learn how to navigate any particular software. Now that we know that, let’s get down to it shall we? First on our checklist are what I consider a couple essentials. You’ll need a sequencer (listed below). Ideally you want a program that is specifically good at midi sequencing. While pro tools is an audio champion and industry standard for recording audio, you may find it lacking for midi sequencing.
Secondly, a midi input device. Usually this is in the form of a keyboard of 49, 61 or 88 keys. Smaller keyboards may be quite limiting for impromptu realization of wider orchestration, so I recommend the larger ones. You don’t need anything fancy mind you, no need for a vast array of buttons, triggers, knobs or nozzles. Since these are not synthesizers, you won’t need them and the ones with the extra gizmos are going to cost you more.
Thirdly, the sample software. If you buy Logic, it comes with a library that will be good enough to start with. If you buy something like Digital Performer, then you’ll have to buy separate software.
There are many options to choose from insofar as instrument samples (listed below). They all have their positives and their negatives, you can find samples of any of them online. For future reference, when referring to midi mockups, samples refer to wavetable patches available in a given library. These are actual instruments that have been recorded and are loaded into a particular samples library. Each patch is then triggered by your midi controller at your discretion. If you’re new to this and your budget is small because you’re a student, just starting as freelance or a little of both then this is all you need to get started.
Now that you’re set up in your studio, you should probably take some time to get to know it. Test out all of your samples, note what samples sound especially good in your library. In doing this you can get a good feel of a sample library, and you get a good knowledge of what you can possibly do with it. For instance, when testing out Garritan’s jazz & big band sample library, I found I absolutely loved the solo clarinet on it. I wouldn’t have known that if I didn’t explore the samples first. Get to know your sequencer too, you can probably get away with only knowing a few key things about it to get started. Among them are velocity control, quantization, and midi limiting.
Next, what is your goal with orchestration? Do you intend to use real instruments in the final production of the score? If you are, you probably don’t need to be quite as meticulous about your mockup for this is merely for either a director or a producer. If not, then there are a lot of details to pay attention to.
What we’ll focus on now is for all of you you who are making the mockup the final score. If you’re new to this, you’re probably used to sequencing the music in notation software such as Sibelius or Finale. This is a fine method to begin with, I use this method for more contrapuntal work to make sure my lines are clear. I’m sure if you’ve chosen the import method you may be disappointed at first, but don’t fret. All is not lost.
You may find your mockup ‘too precise’, articulations and dynamics have suddenly disappeared or there’s an ineffable ‘something’ that just takes the fun out of the music. This is no surprise, as you’ve turned a computer performance into another computer performance! Those crescendos that you once had in your notation software may not have necessarily made an appearence in its general midi export. You’ll have to draw those in yourself. I use digital performer to do this, and in its midi editor I can open the tools menu and draw a parabola for the rising and volume of volumes. This arc is a more ‘human’ crescendo than a straight line in my opinion. A similar option exists in any of the prescribed sequencers.
Your articulations are suddenly gone aren’t they? What was a staccato passage is now a smear of notes. Oh bother. This is where sequencing separates a little bit from notation. For that passage you will either need one of two things: 1. a seperate staccato patch loaded or 2. what is called a ‘keyswitch’ sample. This means that a change in samples is registered by a key at the left end of the midi controller keyboard. However, let us assume the former and you load in a staccato version of the instrument into your sampler. Now you have two patches loaded up of your instrument. A legato and a staccato. You can move that staccato passage down to it via the midi editor, hear it play back. This is of course valid for any change, be it from legato to marcato, stopped horn to horn rip, or bartok pizzicato to harmonics.
Now that we have our articulations and dynamics fairly under control, let us move on to the ‘human quality’ of the performance. If you’ve imported your midi, you may find that it’s ‘too robotic’. If you’ve played in the music via the midi controller, then you may find it’s a little ‘too human’.
When I posit ‘too human’, this means that the timing may seem a bit off after you record with the midi keyboard into the sequencer. Even if you have a fantastic sense of tempo, it will most likely not be as perfect as you like. Latency of even 5ms can make a track lose musicality. The other problem is inconsistent dynamics. If you have a less expensive midi controller, the keys won’t be weighted and so it will be difficult to get a steady sense of dynamics.
Between those two deficiencies, it won’t sound remotely professional in that state. That’s ok! We can fix that!
Let’s get a hold of those timings first. In your midi editor there is an option to ‘quantize’ your notes. Quantize means aligning notes to a particular setting set by the user. This may take some practice to do well. Based on the quantizing settings, you set the detail in how much you want to quantize. The side effects include: making shorter notes too long, you ended up with entirely the wrong rhythm you intended and/or it just becomes too precise. One last bit of advice on durations: full instrument sections never change notes at exactly the same time. I find it sounds smoother if I have a slight overlap of the notes in the sequencer.
So if you’re happy with your note durations, let us move on to velocity (or dynamics) after recording in through a midi controller. There are a few methods to get a good sound you’ll like. You may try, most tediously, to change the value of every single note between 0 and 127. I wouldn’t suggest doing this until later, and even then only if you really need to. A better idea would be to select a passage that you want to change the volume of, select it, then find in your midi editor the way to ‘limit’ the velocity of all the notes in that passage. This method is especially good if a passage you’re editing doesn’t change volume that much. There’s very little fuss. Once again, this is something to try a few times until you get a good feel for how it affects the patches you have loaded. I tend to aim fairly high in volume for this, highest for strings, a little softer than that for woodwinds, and then brass where velocity typically effects timbre and brass instruments naturally stand out more anyway. For crescendos, as I’ve suggested earlier, a parabola curve is typically available in the midi sequencer of your choice. Don’t just take my word for it, experiment! Insofar as midi, there is only one step left: Freeze! Before you can bounce down those tracks you must convert them to wavs in order for you to bounce those tracks into a single audio track. If you’re happy with your midi mix, go right ahead. Remember though, it’s easier to fix individual errors in midi than trying to bounce down your tracks first. This is also the point where you should do any mixing then mastering (which I highly recommend) but that’s another article entirely. There are many more wonderful things you can do with midi mockups, but we’ll save those techniques for another day!
Sound clips MP3:
These are what I like from most to least for symphonic mockups only, by no means are they best to worst. It is merely my list of tastes, your tastes may differ. For midi I tend to use a mac, but I do quite like Cubase on PC. Apologies to Linux users, I don’t know the software well enough to recommend anything in particular.
Recommended virtual instruments
There are more out there and I’m sure some are nice, so by all means check around!
About the author:
Thomas James Slater
is an American composer and sound designer active in the video game industry.
His credits include include Guitar Hero 3, Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground, as
well as a number of flash games and short films. He is currently working
on a Cyberpunk MMO based on the Tad Williams Otherland series of books.
He currently resides in Singapore. his personal website: http://tjslater.tumblr.com