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Watch James Horner Play Piano, Talk Overnight ‘Aliens’ Climax

On a very personal note, I’m saddened this week to learn of the news of the death of the great film composer James Horner. See him talk about his approach to scoring Field of Dreams at top for some of his approach. Best of all, you get to see him at the piano. When I was a kid, Horner was one of the people who inspired me to investigate composition. I was entranced with the sweeping romanticism of the Star Trek II score that was his big break – an aching, yearning, but dreamy vision of the future, filled with …

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thx

THX Just Remade the Deep Note Sound to be More Awesome

It’s one of the best-known electronic sounds ever – perhaps the best electronic sound branding in history. It made its launch in 1983 – right before Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, no less. But it seems the THX “Deep Note” was due for an upgrade. And that’s what it got last week. THX called upon the original creator of Deep Note, Dr. James ‘Andy’ Moorer, to remake his legendary sound design for modern theater audio technology. Here’s a look at that history and where it’s come.

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Beauty in Repetition: Listen to Hanno Leichtmann’s Minimal Studies

Hypnotic repetitive gestures are perhaps the signature of our generation in music, the legacy of Reich and Glass and Monk and Riley and Young … and tape decks and computers and drum machines. But then, repetition is the very stuff of our bodies, of heartbeats and footsteps and brain waves. Mastering repetition is essential, then, to any compositional practice. It should be, literally, as natural as breathing in and breathing out. And it should have the potential to take on its own voice. That’s the sense I get of this work. Listening to Hanno Leichtmann’s music, you may drift off …

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Fake Your Own Lord of the Rings with an All-Elven Software Instrument

The Lord of the Rings movies have come to a close, but that doesn’t mean the elf sonic action has to stop. Yes, there really is a sound sample library called Shevannai, The Voice of Elves. It’s 3.6 GB of nothing but elven samples, adapted to a Kontakt 5 instrument. From a technical standpoint, it shows what Kontakt can do. For any TV and film composer who suddenly gets a call from a client saying “elves!” (I’m not kidding; I’m sure that happens), it’s an emergency solution that will get you there under deadline. For the rest of us – …

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jagger

Watch Mick Jagger Rock a Moog Modular

Hard to add words to these few moments of Mick Jagger, apparently auditioning for the part of prettiest modular synth operator face ever, in a take from the 1970 promo for the film Performance by Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg. Note to self: makeup needed for next performance, clearly. The narrator will likely make you smile a bit, partly for mispronouncing “Moog” like a cow (not that that’s a rare occurrence – rhymes with ‘rogue,’ people), but for the bold claim that a clever-enough operator can make any sound in the world. Much as I love analog and modular, that …

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Rock Zebra2 Like Hans Zimmer: Dark Zebra Pairs Soft Instrument, Dark Knight Sounds [Video, Screens]

A shadow was unquestionably cast across the film by tragic events last week in Colorado. But while it became an unexpected stage for terrible events, The Dark Knight Rises itself is also a cultural object from artists we care about, and as musicians and sound designers, we value every chance to express ourselves. Composer Hans Zimmer and synth sound designer Howard Scarr are today releasing some of their work in a unique piece of software. It’s simultaneously a work of engineering – one of the most sophisticated software instruments available, Zebra2, and sound designs for that tool – and a …

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Synesthesia: Beautiful, Surreal Short Film Imagines Sound Across Senses

At Music Tech Fest in London last month, I gave a talk and did an afternoon-long workshop exploring ways of connecting visuals to sound. We worked with pen and paper, with patching (in Pd), with code (in Processing), and via a survey of some interesting recent work, in this case all connected to drawing. A theme of the conference had been “synesthesia.” But it’s important to note that synesthesia goes beyond just making music visual. It deals with people actually having a sensory experience in which one input (like sound) triggers a different sense (like smell or color). Sure enough, …

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desert

Led by Deru, a Wonderful Band of Artists to Head to Iceland to Make a Soundtrack, Film

A merry band of complementary filmmakers, photographers, and musicians, a curated ensemble perfectly fitted to the landscape, are heading to remote Iceland to make images and a musical soundtrack inspired by the landscape and its people. Photographers Tim Navis + Kim Høltermand and film collective Scenic are heading up the visual component, while composer and electronic producer Deru has assembled the musicians. Improvisation is intended to be a guiding force, say the creators. With the assistance of a community organized on Kickstarter, it’ll also be crowd-funded. In addition to the obligatory, pretty photo book and prints and boxed set of …

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shareddreams

Meet the Music and Sound Oscar Nominees, and Learn from Hours of Info from Sonic Masters

Shared dreams, indeed: welcome to Hollywood. And in 2011, the music and soundscapes of blockbuster films suddenly seem very much like the future of our dreams, from ground-breaking surround sound to interactive music to scores combining low-fidelity and high – and one breaktakingly-terrific score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross that stands on its own. The Internet, as the subject of one Oscar-nominated film, is full of short attention spans and flirts, social dysfunction and lust. But there’s another side of the Internet. Someone interested in finding expressive inspiration, in learning the craft of music and sound, can virtually apprentice …

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Sound Design, in Video: DesigningSound.tv

“HALO: REACH” Game Audio Profile from Michael Coleman on Vimeo. Our friends at Designing Sound have been rocking out on that site, with extraordinary original and linked content for sound designers, ranging from work on games, broadcast, and films to sonic exploration for the curious field recorder or producer. (Designing Sound is hosted by CDM and Noisepages – hence the new template, which will benefit from some corrections we’re making over the coming days.) Now, they’ve launched a second site just to pull together video content. If you love sound design of any kind, get ready to curl up on …

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