At Shockwave-Sound we are always working on new music, new recordings and new studio recordings. Here is a summary with a short description of our latest albums of royalty-free music and stock music available for immediate licensing.
https://www.shockwave-sound.com/royalty-free-music-collection/785/technology-innovation-vol-3 : A collection 11 tracks highly suitable for use with industry, technology and innovation. These 11 tracks were made to highlight development, research, information technology and cutting-edge industry. The tracks have a modern, slick, confident and streamlined sound, sometimes with a sense of wonder, machinery or liquid movement. A collection of music for optimum performance and future developments.
Dance Beat, Vol. 27:
https://www.shockwave-sound.com/stock-music-collection/786/dance-beat-vol-27 : A fresh, pumping, sizzling and bouncing collection of amazing Dance / Club / EDM tracks! This collection features 11 tracks, all available in multiple different versions, mixes, edits, loops and cuts; at a total of 110 music files. This music is highly suitable for dance parties, sports and exercise, shopping and youth socializing, dance club / nightclub scenes, and more. The tracks have a cutting edge commercial quality.
https://www.shockwave-sound.com/stock-music-collection/789/feelgood-trax-vol-23 : A fun, lighthearted, collection of 11 tracks of positive and motivational pop music! This music collection features 11 tracks of feel-good pop, with some influences from folk, dance, and other genres. Each track has it’s own style and sound, but they all share a common uplifting, spirited, fresh and bright feel.
This is not a complete representation of all the new music we’ve released since our previous newsletter. We’re always busy releasing new tracks and recording new projects. Not all of our tracks end up on CD-collections either. With all of our “CD collections” (as above), each track can also be licensed individually. Just click on the track title in the audio player at the bottom of the page, and you will be taken to that track’s individual track page, where you can license the track or any sub-version of it. Please remember to “Like” our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/swsound/. And if you have any questions, issues, suggestions etc., please get in touch with us through the Contact page on our site. We are here and always happy to hear from you. All the best from all of us at Shockwave-Sound.
Sound is a natural phenomenon, and music is this natural phenomenon harnessed and morphed by human minds and hands: an evolution of sound based on the principles of physics. Below we explore various expressions of this relationship between music/sound and the natural world.
The “Elegy for the Arctic”
In some instances, as in the following, humans use nature as inspiration for art in an attempt to honor the natural world and to inspire others to action. For example, on November 23, 2017, Italian composer and pianist Ludovico Einaudi premiered his composition “Elegy for the Arctic” floating on the Arctic Sea.
Inspired by a Greenpeace petition of 8 million people across the world demanding governments to cease oil drilling and destructive fishing, Einaudi wrote this piece and performed it floating in the Arctic Ocean, surrounded by the very icebergs that are at risk. The iceberg, a 2.6 x 10 meter, 2 ton, constructed iceberg, held Einaudi and his grand piano to perform this gorgeous piece, inspirational but haunting: his call to action in support of Arctic preservation and a chance to mourn a potential future of human error. The interaction between human music and the natural world here is figurative but very real.
Einaudi called the iceberg the “best stage in the world”
Great Stalacpipe Organ
The Great Stalacpipe Organ is an electrically actuated lithophone located in Luray Caverns, Virginia, USA. It is operated by a custom console that produces the tapping of ancient stalactites of varying sizes with solenoid-actuated rubber mallets in order to produce tones. The instrument’s name was derived from the resemblance of the selected thirty-seven naturally formed stalactites to the pipework of a traditional pipe organ along with its custom organ-style keyboard console. It was designed and implemented in 1956 over three years by Leland W. Sprinkle inside the Luray Caverns near Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, USA.
The Great Stalacpipe Organ appears at first to be a normal organ, but instead of using pipes, the organ is wired to soft rubber mallets poised to gently strike stalactites of varying lengths and thicknesses. When the keyboard is played, the entire subterranean landscape becomes a musical instrument. In order to achieve a precise musical scale, the chosen stalactites of the organ range over 3.5 acres, but due to the enclosed nature of the space, the full sound can be heard anywhere within the cavern. The organ was invented and built in 1954 by Leland Sprinkle, a mathematician and electronic scientist. It took him over three years to complete it.
Sprinkle created the Great Stalacpipe Organ over three years by finding and shaving appropriate stalactites to produce specific notes. He then wired a mallet for each stalactite that is activated by pressing an associated key on the instrument’s keyboard. The stalactites are distributed through approximately 3.5 acres (14,000 m2) of the caverns but can be heard anywhere within its 64-acre (260,000 m2) confines.
Amateur video with music in background excellent view of the size of the instrument
Pyrophone – fire breathing piano
Physicist and musician Georges Frédéric Eugène Kastner, 1852- 1882, was the son of French composer Jean-Georges Kastner, who took his father’s fondness of music and instruments to a new level with the invention of the pyrophone in 1870. This instrument is also known as a “fire-explosion organ” which emits notes that are caused by explosions, rapid combustion and heating. In Kastner’s patent for his instrument, he explains that two parts hydrogen to one part oxygen in a glass tube, when united and combusted will create a chain of slight detonations. By using distances of thirds along the length of a glass tube from the bottom up, a number of explosions which match the vibrations needed to produce a sound in the tube will create a musical tone. By changing the height of the flame, the ratios between the explosions and the needed vibrations are disrupted and the sounds cease, allowing control of the instrument.
The Pyrophone made a splash in the last 1800s, as one Jean Henri Dunant wrote in 1875 in Popular Science about these “singing flames” produced by the pyrophone which he deemed had a strong connection to the cosmos itself, having an ethereal quality. He poetically describes the process that Kastner describes in his patent which he calls “chemical harmonica.” Dunant explains to his audience of scientists that in order for sound to become pure, as in a musical note, “the impulse .. should be exactly similar in duration and intensity” to the intonations needed to create a note on the musical scale and thus becomes no longer “dull and confused,” but “clear and brilliant.” Dunant epically describes the sound produced by the pyrophone, writing that it resembles the sound of a human voice mixed with that of an Aeolian harp, “powerful, full of taste, and brilliant; with much roundness, accuracy, and fullness; like a human and impassioned whisper, as an echo of the inward vibrations of the soul.” (Popular Science Monthly, v7, 1875). With such a ringing endorsement, clearly, the pyrophone is an instrument to hear – not to mention the greatest part of all – it makes music with FIRE:
Richard Waters was an American artist and inventor and sonic experimentalist who gained artistic traction from the 1960’s onward and is best know as the creator of The Waterphone. As opposed to the fire of the Pyrophone, The Waterphone uses water to warp and modify sound housed inside its resonators. The instrument is handmade of stainless steel and bronze and are known as “acoustic synthesizers. According to the Waterphone website, it is somewhere between the Tibetan Water Drum, the African Kalimba, and something called a Nail Violin. Waters crafted and honed his creative process for 40 years, using hot metal to create tonal rods tuned diatonically in “micro-tones.
The Waterphone is either suspended by a cord or held by its neck and can be played as a stringed or percussion instrument with hands and fingers, mallets, or bows. It not only uses a natural element as part of its construction (water), but has been proven to interact with nature by successfully calling whales. The instrument has made a splash, so to speak, in cinema being included on film and TV soundtracks such as “Star Trek” the movie, “Poltergeist,” “Bugsy,” “Young Guns,” and more. In addition, it has been exhibited in galleries and museums such as the Smithsonian in DC, the Oakland Museum, the San Francisco Folk Art Museum to name a few. Documentaries have covered the instrument such as “Art Notes” (San Francisco’s public television, and the film short “Celestial Wave.” While Waters passed in 2013, his instruments continue. To be handcrafted and sold at the waterphone.com.
The Rijke Tube
This ultra-simple instrument creates one standing wave and therefore may qualify as more of a laboratory experience than rather than a playable performance tool. However, it falls in line with the other instruments in this post in that it directly harnesses and puts emphasis on natural elements at its core. Simply put, the Rijke tube turns heat into sound and creates a self-amplifying standing wave, an example of resonance.
It seems that inventors, scientists and musicians in the 19th century were intent on creating
sound with heat and fire, as physics professor P.L. Rijke of the Netherlands discovered the means to sustain sound with heat via an open ended tube in the same decade that Kessler patented his Pyrophone. Rijke used a glass tube 3.5 cm in diameter and 0.8 m in length that housed a disc made of wire gauze. The disc was held through friction and heated until it glowed red. When the flame was removed, the tube emitted sound that diminished as the disc cooled and eventually died out.
Rijke moved on to use electrical heating which produced continuous heat and therefore continuous sound. further experiments at the time report that the sound from the Rijke tube was substantial, enough to shake the room and heard throughout the department. (John Wm. Strutt (Lord Rayleigh) (1879) “Acoustical observations,” Philosophical Magazine, 5th series, vol. 7, pages 149-162.)
The sound coming from the Rijke tube is created due to physics. It makes a “standing wave” that has a wavelength twice the length of the tube which creates a fundamental frequency. The standing wave is a wave caused by two wave motions occurring simultaneously, in this case the heat causing air movement due to convection is combined with the motion of the sound waves. The reason that the Rijke tube creates such loud sound is because the “pressure maximum” is constantly reinforced with the continual introduction of small bits of cool air during the process.
While that might be all a bit heady, it suffices to say that the human spirit of inventiveness continues in all forms, in this case we play with nature to create sound. It seems we will never stop tinkering and toying with these resources we find around us, a great reason to be alive.
Music and sound invite all forms of creativity and invention. Most likely as soon as the hand drum was invented, the mallet took shape. The hand drum gave rise to drums of all shapes and sizes, played with all forms of materials and came to utilize hands as well as legs and feet. It is human nature to invent, to improve upon and to change. One clear area that we have continually worked to evolve are musical instruments and the means by which they are played. This trend continues, though now incorporating digital technology into the tradition of instrument creation and modification, discussed below.
First, a perfect example of instrument modification to enhance performance and expression by incorporating new body gestures occurred with the piano. The addition of three main pedals over time allow a pianist to use their legs and feet to add musical expression. The three include the sustain pedal, the sostenuto pedal and the ulna corda (“soft”) pedal. The sustain pedal, the most right of the pedals, lengthens the time the hammered strings reverberate. When a key is struck on a piano, a hammer hits three tuned strings below and cause them to ring. When the key is let go, the hammer falls onto the string to stop it’s ringing. When the sustain pedal is pressed, a damper bar is lifted that usually dampers the reverberations of all the strings and as a result, a rich sustain (reverberation) follows the played note.
A second pedal is The sostenuto pedal in the middle is similar. However, it only sustains the notes played while the pedal is pressed, but not notes played when released. Using this, pianists can hold bass notes out while played higher melodies over it’s sustain. The third pedal is the ulna corda pedal, also known as the soft pedal. When the una corda pedal is pressed, it shifts the hammer to the right so that only two strings are hit for a particular note instead of the normal three. This results in a softer sound. The reason I bring this up is because the adaptations to the piano through the addition of these three pedals is an early harbinger of some new technological developments that allow instrumentalists and creators to utilize more body parts to express music, both on a professional level and for kids. So, we bring in …
The MIDI wireless ring: musical gestures with your hands
“How a connected ring enhances musical expression and creativity” – Enhancia
Of all the wearable sound technology discussed in this post, the first is the most formidable in ingenuity and is geared toward trained instrumentalists. French company Enhancia promises to release this revolutionary technology: a MIDI ring to be worn on a player’s index finger that allows a performer to create musical expression through finer than normal movements and hand gestures. According to Enhancia’s press kit, the ring is an evolution of a “musical glove” developed through a collaboration with a French Music conservatory to assist children with disabilities interact with and create music. The glove allowed new realms of musical control, such as playing drums in the air. From this, the developers began to explore how they could release similar technology to musicians that would enhance musical performance. Thus, they decided to create a device that would allow already accomplished musicians push their performance and creativity. Essentially, it opens up an entirely new world of musical and performance possibility. This is reminiscent of the evolution of performance that must have occurred when pedals were introduced to the piano: suddenly dynamics and sustain control were available, expanding control through using legs and feet in addition to one’s arms and hands.
Check out the video below, at 1:30 especially, to witness evolutionary hand gesture controls:
The MIDI connected ring allows a musician to control musical effects, such as vibrato, through predefined hand movements. For example, while playing a keyboard, a musician can add variations to notes with simple hand movements. Wavering one’s hand adds vibrato for instance. This entirely new dimension of physical interaction with the instrument and the produced music creates previously unforeseen possibilities. One would think that incorporating these new movements into physical performance, will also create new ways of playing, new means of playing riffs and finger combinations and different rhythms needed to incorporate the MIDI gestures.
As Enhancia explains, nine integrated sensors and a “real-time gesture recognition algorithm” were utilized to create a motion library specific to keyboards. They have a community of musicians of different styles that provide feedback in order to ensure the MIDI ring is adaptable to diverse musical styles. This ring is accompanied by a hub that can be connected directly to a keyboard or a computer. The signals recorded by the ring’s sensors is sent wirelessly with low latency. Patents have been secured for all of their technology.
Enhancia plans to launch the first generation of the ring via Kickstarter in March 2018. There is no information yet on pricing, but they aim to deliver product by the end of 2018. The product as recently officially introduced at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas to favorable reviews. The display version was wired, but wireless function is promised. They have received a CES innovation award in the “Wearable Technologies” category and will also display at the National Association of Music Merchants Show (NAMM) in Anaheim at the end of January 2018. In sum, the MIDI wireless ring is nothing short of revolutionary by the simple fact that it is allowing entirely new body gestures affect the manipulation and presentation of sound. Simply by waving a hand or finger, without even touching the instrument, the performer can change the expression of the emitted sound. Imagine waving a hand in the air while playing a piano. Would it add vibrato to the note? Of course not. This fact shows how technology has had an continues to have a dramatic impact on musical performance and it will surely continue to do so.
Video, teaser, and press kit can be downloaded via Google drive at the bottom of www.oria.io
Making music with your moves
Daigo Kusunoki is an engineer with a passion for dance. He combined these talents to create BeatMoovz, rubber wristbands that consist of a Bluetooth radio and an accelerometer (an instrument for measuring acceleration). The bands connect to an app of over 400 music and sfx sounds that allow the user to create music through movement. BeatMoovz, now called SoundMoovz, is currently manufactured by trendy toy company Cra-Z-Art and distributed and marketed by Japan-based Dmet Properties. It is operable on iOS 10+ and Android 4.4+.
“The bands pair with a smart device with Bluetooth and the companion application allows users to assign a sound to each band. The app has 40 different music, instrument and robot sounds preinstalled and more than 400 additional sounds are available for free (including karate and more). Setting the sound to a SoundMoovz band is simple and the application allows for different sets to be saved, allowing users to quickly switch between “orchestras”. There is also the “backing track function” that allows users to move to their choice of music from their device and add the sounds from the SoundMoovz as they dance along. https://geekdad.com/2017/08/soundmoovz-wearables/
The wrist bands are smart devices that link via Bluetooth to an application that users can use to assign a different sound to each band. There are 40 different music, instrument and sound effects preinstalled in the app with 400 more available for free. Simplicity apparently reigns with this sound toy with a few clicks of the button and different sets can be saved, as well as the ability to move back and forth between sound banks. Seven SoundMoovz bands can link through one instance of the application, each able to use a distinct sound. This ability allows group performance of seven sound options for one user if they are courageous enough to attempt wearing 7 bands at once. Speakers can be attached to the bands for extra sonic power. SoundMoovz was chosen as a finalist for the 2017 Toy of the Year awards.
And for the Kids: Add some sounds to your day – The Moff Band
The Moff Band is a Wearable Smart Toy that adds sound effects to real life based on the gestures of the wearer. It sonically animates the movements of the user and when used with an app it becomes a larger bank of sound effects. For example, by strumming in the air the wearer can play a guitar sound. Twirling the hand let’s off magical sounds and playing air objects like drums blasts off drum sounds. Thirty sounds are included in the free Moff app that also includes ninja swords, baseball, cooking sounds and more. Moff provides new sound updates weekly through the app. The app plays on Android version 4.4+ and Apple iOS 7.1+. There are parental controls to hide a unwanted sounds. 3 colors of slap bracelets that are Bluetooth-connected allow kids of all ages to have some fun!
It is common professional practice for a mixing and mastering engineer to normalize tracks and apply the proper compression to maximize the punch of sound: it’s called loudness, or the loudness wars. This is the skills and tactics of skilled sound engineers and the reason why musicians like myself hire experts who spend their lives studying the art of music mixing and create gorgeous sounding tracks that have “radio quality” and tracks that can be played – and will sound good – on any system, from iPhone speakers to arena speakers. After sound engineers work their magic, a track can be played on any system and the result is the same: basically, it sounds really good with impact and depth. When “mastering” a track, engineers apply compression and limiters and equalizers and the master track becomes perceptually louder. The proof is in the perception, one can hear the solid power of the finished work. As this image shows, the size of the .wav file, amped through science and expertise, results in more breadth given to the visual image of the file itself:
Let’s give the .wav file a haircut
After twenty years of staring at my Logic Pro project files and zooming in on .wav forms, I am very familiar with the above image. As a novice mixer years ago, I was under the similar naive impression as some A&R reps are: the bigger the .wav form, the better the sound. This is simply not true. Like the image below, slamming compression onto recorded sound is akin to a bad haircut as much of the nuance and art is gone. Like a “bowl cut” that parents used to give their kids (put a bowl around the head and cut around it), over-compression increases the auditory flatness of a track. Hilariously, to me, I still remember my early days in digital mixing when my friend and I used to scream “haircut” in delight when compressing a track and watching the .wav form change. To our horror, after a few days of recording and attempting to mix, the tracks sounded terrible and it took me a few (many) years to understand why. This image explains it all:
This same knowledge that these professionals use when mastering music, sound effects and sound for film has also become an arena of competition known as the “Loudness Wars” – which is essentially a decades old rivalry between sound engineers throughout the world seeking to give their work a sonic advantage. If your track sounds louder than the rest, is bigger than the rest, then it stands out, which could give an economic advantage. Related, have you ever watched television and noticed that the commercials are suddenly much louder than the show itself? I have, and it is jarring. Clearly, the advertisers want to BE HEARD!
It all started back in the day
The sound wars can be traced back to the 1940s when jukeboxes that played 7-inch records were popular. Owners of the jukeboxes could set a standard volume for the machine, and therefore any tracks that had been mastered with skill would be “louder” would prominent over the others. Naturally, studios and record companies requested and demanded mastered singles that were louder than their competition. A competitive spirit also emerged between artists in the 20th century as compilation CDs and radio play demonstrated which tracks were “hot” and which were weak. The increase in volume is demonstrated by this image of the wave file for Michael Jackson’s “Black or White,” which was remastered over the years. One can visually see how the size of the wave file of Jackson’s master track increased over the years from 1983 to 2008.
To make it loud just kill the dynamics
Austin Statesman quotes a letter written by Angelo Montrone, a vice president for A&R for One Haven Music, a Sony Music company: “There’s something . . . sinister in audio that is causing our listeners fatigue and even pain while trying to enjoy their favorite music. It has been propagated by A&R departments for the last eight years: The complete abuse of compression in mastering (forced on the mastering engineers against their will and better judgment).” Statesman goes on to state that major record labels have a mistaken belief that any record that is extremely loud will automatically turn the song into a major hit and bring in nice profits. Montrone calls this an “aural assault” on the listener because all the dynamics have been eliminated. Statesman goes on to make the point that the over-compression of current music wears out the listener. While the audience might like the music, they experience sonic fatigue and stop listening because the loudness is inexplicably offensive to their ears and minds.
Metallica’s unfortunate mixing “whoops”
As explained in “The Loudness Wars: Why Music Sounds Worse” by NPR on their program “All Things Considered,” a perfect example of the dangers of creating painful music through over-compression involves one of my favorite bands of all-time, Metallica. Their “Death Magnetic” album of 2008. The record was released at the same time the music was available on “Guitar Hero” and fans were able to compare the compressed music on the album to the tracks available on the game, which were not compressed. There was an outpouring of fan feedback, including an online petition signed by over 10,000 plus fans suggesting that the band remix the album. The music on “Guitar Hero” was significantly more palatable than the record itself. This is not the band’s fault, rather, the record label clearly suggested that final mastering sound engineers apply maximum compression which resulted in an inferior product. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in Europe is an agency that has standard measures for loudness and claims Metallica’s album is one of the loudest ever created. Master sound engineer Bob Ludwig, interviewed in NPR’s piece, states that in addition to pirating downloads, the sound war is one of the greatest contributions to declining record sales.
Can we return to the golden age of sound?
In recent years, some claim that the loudness war may soon be over. Roy Dykes in “Making it Louder: Are the loudness wars almost over?” at least hopes so. He claims that according to mixer Bob Katz, some labels have begun to make different masters for CDs (which are nearly a thing of the past) and online outlets. Frankly, it would take a consensus among all parties involved to solve the over loudness problem. Dykes advocates that going back to less compression in order to enhance music dynamics is a conscious choice that musicians, mixers, and labels will make in the future. I certainly hope so. Though it will be a challenge.
As a musician myself, it certainly would be difficult to request that a mastering studio make my tracks softer to preserve dynamics when I know that they will pale in impact in comparison to the work of other artists. Just maybe, like the free markets in any industry, customers will en masse and unconsciously decide which level of “loudness” and compression is on point. Through the power of purchasing, hopefully, consumers will be able to dictate the direction of the mixing industry. Personally, I know that when I rarely put on vinyl through my old DJ turntables, I am blown away by the quality of the sound, the vibrancy of the bass and the crystal treble. To put it simply, vinyl just sounds so good – especially after years now of listening to CD’s and downloadable audio.
In the end though, its the song and music that counts: the melody, the lyrics, the instrumentation and the human voice. A piece of music of genius proportions will move the listener when played through nearly any medium. Compression and the negative aspects of the loudness war certainly matter, but fortunately, in the end, it is the music that counts.
You can find high quality music recordings in the Shockwave-Sound stock music library. Any track purchased and downloaded from Shockwave-Sound comes with a license to legally use the music in media, film, games, apps, and more.