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 – …


How the Millennium Falcon Got Its Hyperdrive Malfunction Sound

Old pipes? A vintage airplane? Mechanical equipment? Ben Burtt, Hollywood’s master sound designer, is remarkable for his economy and resourcefulness. That’s evident in this charming video in which he demonstrates how he evoked breaking machinery to realize the sound of the Millenium Falcon… not going into hyperdrive. The cinematic challenge is significant. It’s a bit joke, a running gag, but it has to simultaneously build tension in the film. And like the rest of Star Wars, the future is evoked by the past. (It is, after all, a galaxy long ago – and to impact audiences, couldn’t in fact be …


MPC Software 1.7: Direct Looping, Better Mixer, Track Automation, Proper Export, and Hybrid Synth

Let’s get one thing straight: now that Akai has made the jump from hardware to hybrid hardware/software, the hardware they make is very, very good. The MPC Studio is slim and messenger bag-friendly, when Native Instruments’ Maschine is big and luggable. The MPC Renaissance is more of a “throw it in your station wagon” affair, but it feels fantastic – the pads are brilliant. The downside has been software. But Akai is making headway there. I’m not convinced the changes are going to make anyone switch, but I can imagine what Akai is delivering here should make existing users very …


Beautiful New Music from tehn, the Maker of the monome [Interview]

Brian Crabtree, alongside partner Kelli Cain, nicely exemplifies a lot of this site’s raison d’ĂȘtre over the the past ten years. Artmaker and toolmaker are indistinct roles; they’re both flipsides of the act of making. The monome, the invention for which Brian is best known, is at first blush nothing more than a box of buttons. It’s even lifeless until connected to a computer. But in its design is a statement that draws a thread from the design of tools to the design of music. Ideas about compositional technique are embodied in the software; notions of aesthetics are evident in …


These Apps Use Quicker Interfaces To Encourage More People to Use Sound

Convincing musicians to make use of sound is easy. And electronic musicians are even content with stunningly-complex interfaces, in exchange for deep control of sound. But what about everyone else? Users on mobile are certainly uploading sounds. Part of the intense interest in SoundCloud even outside music and audio audiences is simple to explain: the site is ridiculously popular. By 2012, it had reached 10 hours of uploads per minute. And once sound is uploaded, it attracts listeners. As of last fall, users had skyrocketed from 200 to 250 million users in just a few months. That’s another reason last …


Cure Dull Sound and Transform Rhythms By Adventuring Into Convolution [Watch]

Convolution is a process fundamental to understanding digital sound. Any audio can be imagined as the combination of the frequency and temporal domains. With convolution, you can simulate the combination of one sound with another, or one sound with an environment. Traditionally, that has meant reverbs. But it can mean more – a lot more. Apart from simulating instruments, it can synthesize never-before-heard and impossible sound. Our friend Diego Stocco has been hard at work opening up some of those doors to producers. When we last joined Diego, he was teaching you sound design techniques. This time, he has both …


Learn How Pantha Du Prince Combines Acoustic Instruments with Ableton Live, In C

Before triggering clips and samples on the computer, Pantha du Prince and The Bell Laboratory “trigger” the musicians. Yes, before there were machine clips, there were human patterns, and in performing Terry Riley’s legendary classical new music composition “In C,” the ensemble has to do just that. In a beautiful chorus of chiming tones, that orchestra is augmented with digital embellishment. The result makes for a live performance that expands the role of the computer into a large-scale instrumental ensemble, venturing into territory perhaps not as often associated with Ableton Live as genres like dance music are. But Ableton has …


Abbey Road at Home? Waves Emulates Double Tracking Made Famous by Beatles, $99 Sale

It all started in 1966 as a way to fake multiple takes – and it works pretty well for any vocals. And now, in one of the more ambitious emulation efforts undertaken recently, software engineers are hoping to recreate a sound you know quite well from artists like The Beatles. And oh, yeah, even if you don’t want to sound like Paul or John or George, this turns out to be a pretty easy way to double up vocal recordings. That is, if they’ve done a convincing emulation. Plug-in giant Waves Audio has partnered with Abbey Road Studios themselves, and …


Avid Delays Financial Reporting, But Promises Brighter Future, Including Pro Tools and Sibelius

Avid, makers of Pro Tools, Media Composer, Sibelius, and other products was on Tuesday suspended from being traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange because of a failure to issue timely financial statements. And the company by the admission of its own chief executive faces a changing industry. However, our earlier report included inaccurate information from financial analysis site The Street. Their report included outdated financial data. Our reporting was not correct; we have since spoken to Avid. The Street reporting (and thus ours, in building a report on it) was inaccurate and misleading in that financial data for Avid actually …


Learn from the Master: Diego Stocco Makes Music with Sound Design, Then Shows You How

Is it sound design, or is it composition? Is it musicianship, or is it technical control? Is it live, or is it Ableton Live? Yes. Diego Stocco is simply one of the best bleeding-edge musicians, composers, and sound designers – all in one. And that has made him rightfully in-demand in the media of technology (Spectrasonics), movies (Sherlock Holmes), TV (The Tudors), and games (Assasin’s Creed). He’s of course also a big hit around sites like this one. Now, he’s sharing his secrets. He revealed about a week ago that he would be offering the first of his sound design …