Tango of Death

During the Battle of Stalingrad, the soviet army deployed a new kind of guerrilla warfare towards their German enemies: sonic terror.

Propaganda, mass manipulation and psychological warfare via radio stations became quite popular during the two world wars but the Russians took it to a entire new level during the siege of Stalingrad.

Loudspeakers were set up throughout the ruined city and a music piece called “The Tango of Death” could be heard playing continuously while the fighting for each house continued. The soviets believed it will induce a sinister mood to their enemies.

Mixed in with the “program” were sounds of ticking clocks and messages in German about how hopeless their position in the city really was or that a fascist soldier died every seven seconds.

These audio messages were also driven around on vans with speakers throughout the city streets. They began with quotes like “Stalingrad, mass grave of Hitler’s army!” then go into the music, clock, and demoralizing quotes. Sometimes they would be sustained by the firing of Katyusha rockets at Nazi positions, a terrifying melodic weapon, often called “Stalin’s organ”.

The propaganda effect may not have worked all the time but the constant loop of audio sure did. Hitler’s army suffered from extreme exhaustion waiting for the Soviet broadcasts to end: if a song is roughly four minutes, it will play 15 times in an hour, 360 times in a day, 2,520 times in a week – or 58,680 times during the 163-day battle.

Another Russian favorite played for the “visiting” Germans was “Zemlyanka” by Aleksey Surkov.

A turning point in WWII, the confrontation in Stalingrad is widely considered one of the bloodiest battle in human history with a total of over 2 million casualties in 6 months. The Soviet Army eventually encircled the starving Germans within the city and defeated them.

The world of audio branding

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The fascinating field of audio branding has only been recently recognized in the world of media and marketing, although, to some level it existed for some time, a specific example being the iconic lion’s roar belonging to the MGM studios, which started to be used in the first talking movies.

Since then it evolved rapidly and nowadays it can define a company trough the clever and unique use of proprietary sounds and music. The use of visuals are just not enough to get the most out of a it, that’s when the audio branding comes into play and is an essential component to maximize a product’s value.

As our tools and machines used today have become increasingly silent, paradoxically we are feeling the need to rely on designed sounds, created to simulate an effect. For example, the developers of the touchscreen devices are putting time and energy to create unique audio effects for their digital keyboards.

The computer creators of the 90s felt the urge to add sonic elements to their products, at first to give their customers a relaxed, controlling feel when booting the machine but gradually introduced all sorts of sounds that would play when different actions occurred, prototype versions of the audios we can hear today when emptying a recycle bin or an error occurs.

But can a simple sound emulate any mood or atmosphere? Almost, but specialists warn us that modifying a customer’s relationship with a company simply by using a bunch of audio signals is at most an unrealistic expectation. After all, the use of sound is just creative strategy, not an exact science.

The hidden tweaks of MIDI

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A mysterious part of the music production, MIDI is very easy to grasp but hard to master if you never encountered it’s concepts before. Nevertheless, it is extremely important if someone needs to produce music that involves software instruments, mainly because your workflow will become much faster and the results more professional.

MIDI or Musical Instrument Digital Interface, is a technology implemented in the early 80s and used since then by all DAW manufacturers on the market because a common language was needed for devices and programs to talk to each other.

The best way to understand MIDI is to open your favorite DAW and load a basic instrument(piano). Then go into the sequencer, where, in most cases, you can already see a virtual keyboard displayed vertically. Running horizontally along the keyboard should be lines of rigid blocks.

Using a pencil tool, click on any of the blocks displayed and you should see how it would automatically fill up with color: that is your very own MIDI note.

By pressing play your instrument should be able to playback that note on any tempo you choose.

As you might have guessed, MIDI programming is much more complex than some simple instructions for a virtual instrument to play a note.

The most used aspect of it is the velocity feature, which measures the force with which a player hits the keyboard but can also be a dynamic way of controlling the sound: your instrument can be automated to trigger certain effects, depending on the velocity value, which is usually measured from 0 to 127. This method can be used to bring variation and life into a musical piece.

Besides the velocity, the attack, sustain, decay and release settings can also be customized depending on how you want the instrument to behave. Some software even lets you adjust the fine pitch of the MIDI notes, adding a natural touch to a composition.

Quantisation is another important aspect which may prove very useful, since perfect timing is not precise when manually recording with a controller. By quantizing on specific time frames, every note is automatically locked to it’s closest fragment in the grid. A robotic playback can result from this process but if applied moderately everything should sound more in sync.

MIDI can help the music composition process enormously, mostly because you can construct elaborate chords and layered effects with various automation, allowing you to experiment wildly and be more creative.

Each DAW treats MIDI programming differently so play with a few and see which one brings more advantages to your work. Master it well and your work will become more efficient.

We’ll be exploring the features in a more detailed fashion in the following articles so stay tuned for more.

 

Basic Mixing Tips

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A great music composition is nothing without a decent mix, that’s why I’m going to share with you a few basic tips regarding the rather technical aspect of music production. These hacks can be applied to any DAW out there so you won’t have to limit yourself to one piece of software and be flexible.

1. Equilibrium – not talking about the movie(an actually good one, by the way) but more about the importance of volume/panning and the smart decisions revolving around them, which are the key factors that make up a good track. Spend 15 to 60 minutes, depending on the track’s complexity, only to listen it while adjusting the volume levels and pan pots until everything sounds right, until you feel “connected” with the vibe. No plugins and knowledge of a specific software is required for this operation.

2. Equalization – Once a good balance is secured, we need to use the most important and basic plugin that comes up with all music production programs: the EQ or equalizer, which is basically like a volume fader, only more smart and automated. If you experiment and learn how to use it, the EQ can be a very powerful tool to enhance your track’s potential while also removing the undesired frequencies.

3. Compression – after the equalization process, the compressor is the next plugin which can bring a lot of power/punch to the audio while also guaranteeing an overall smoother performance. Depending on how you use the compressor’s knobs, very different results can be obtained, just make sure if the tune really needs a compression and make the right decision.

4. Referencing – a powerful, clever trick which can help the ears a lot is to import a professional music piece similar in genre and instrumentation to the one which you are currently working on. Start comparing it to your mix and observe the mixing decisions made in the reference audio.

Spend some more time with the mix, implement these steps and you should have a better sounding, more professional music. Good luck!

The beauty of sound holograms

Creating holograms by using light is pretty common but recently German scientists were able to create them by using just sound waves and a vibrating surface along with a reflector.

This new techniques is explained in the video bellow. Enjoy!

 

Dark Ghostly Sounds

A sound design pack full of creepy ghostly sounds, great to use in all sorts of horror projects like movies, trailers, podcasts and many more.

New sound design for horror short films

Seems like the horror and fantastical projects for which I’ve made creative input are starting to appear online.

Recently discovered that two of my sound design works for a couple of clients that wanted them for their short movies, have appeared on YouTube in the movie trailers.

The first is for Trapped Magic, a short film with a Twilight feel to it about a teen that discovers a magic witch’s bottle that contains the ghost of a malicious 18th century witch.

The second one is called Cursed and it has almost the same subject: a troubled werewolf named Logan becomes entangled in a war between witches and werewolves when a love spell cast by a guileless white witch named Skye backfires.

Emerging Audio Logo

A nice rising audio logo, good as opener or sound effect for various motion graphics or other video production content.

Buy link: https://audiojungle.net/item/emerging-audio-logo/17809686

For other versions, variations or modifications, feel free to contact me and I will gladly assist you.

Hans Zimmer Revealed – the documentary

An in depth portrait of the great music composer, filmed before his concert at the Apollo Theater, London, during the Fall of 2014.

The documentary covers the beginnings of Hans as a music composer and the process of collaborating with different musicians in order to prepare a live performance.

Told from his own perspective but also from famous friends and collaborators. Enjoy!

Magical Game Music

Magical themed background music for video games, animations and other enchanted or adventurous materials. The track plays in loop and has a nice pleasant atmosphere so it can be played continuously without interfering with the gaming experience.

Buy link: https://audiojungle.net/item/magical-game/17467432

For other versions, variations or modifications, feel free to contact me and I will gladly assist you.