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10 Unforgettable Electronic Movie Soundtracks

10 Unforgettable Electronic Movie Soundtracks

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

10. Run Lola Run (1998)

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

9. The Social Network (2010)

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

8. Beverley Hills Cop (1984)

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

7. Forbidden Planet (1956)

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

6. Chariots of Fire (1981)

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

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

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

5. Midnight Express (1978)

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

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

4. Gone Girl (2014)

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

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

3. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

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

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

2. Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

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

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

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

1. Blade Runner (1982)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other films with electronic soundtracks include:

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

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

Dan Morrissey – special Artist feature

Dan Morrissey – special Artist feature

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

Dan Morrissey photo

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

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

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

Dan, in his natural habitat

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

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

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


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


Dan, rockin’ out




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

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


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

– Do you have any favorite pieces that you’ve written and recorded?

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


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


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

A vintage AV Telecaster and a G&L l200 bass

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

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


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

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

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


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

An Ibanez JS1000 and a Squier Thinline chambered telecaster

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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


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


You gotta have some pedals!

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

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

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

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


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

– What are some of your favorite artists?

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


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


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


Tool, one of Dan’s favorites and inspirations



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

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

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

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

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

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

Four of Dan Morrissey’s solo albums, available via CDBaby.com
Classical Piano Favorites Vol. 2 – and why it’s so great!

Classical Piano Favorites Vol. 2 – and why it’s so great!

Classical Piano Favorites Vol. 2 (2016)

Dear customers, visitors, passers-by and everyone who might stumble across our site today..

Today at Shockwave-Sound.com we released our new album Classical Piano Favorites, Vol. 2. I just wanted to take a moment to write a few words about this album because I feel that this is not “just another classical piano album”. These days, with all the technology we have available and all of the amazing sounding samples and virtual instruments, it’s pretty easy for anybody to obtain sheet music of classical piano masterpieces, enter them into the computer, and export this as a pretty decent sounding recording of the piece in question.
However, we feel that this isn’t really the way to go, and especially so with calm and soothing classical piano works, because we feel that it’s vital to have the pieces performed by a human with some insight, some experience, some touch and sensibility as to what this beautiful music really is about and what it means to us.
This is why, for both of our Classical Piano Favorites Vol. 1, and Vol. 2, we decided to seek out the services of Vadim Chaimovich, a renowned and accomplished concert pianist. Vadim is a prize winning musician, originally from Lithuania, who studied the piano from the age of 5 and is today a popular concert pianist, traveling the world and playing to audiences’ great delight.
We were lucky enough to get Vadim on board with us, and for these projects he hired an amazing grand piano and had it tuned up especially for the recording sessions. He rehearsed for weeks and then recorded the album over a period of a few days, with top-of-the-line recording equipment in a pro studio. 
Because, well, if you’re going to do something, why not do it right?! We feel that these amazing compositions by Satie, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Bach, Chopin and many others deserve this kind of treatment from a true connoisseur of classical music.
Listen to the beautiful, unique and touching performances of our “Classical Piano Favorites” albums and we think that you’ll be amazed. Honestly, it’s quite unheard of, that performances and recordings of this quality is made available for “anyone” to license for such low license fees. (Starting from around $30 for a track or $100 for the whole album).
Classical Piano Favorites Vol. 1 (2015)