resources

This is where I collect links to articles, interviews, books, tutorials, and videos about composing, orchestration, mixing/mastering, production music, etc. that I find interesting, informative, entertaining, etc.

It's searchable, so hopefully, you can find something useful here.

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Guitarist's Guide to Playing Bass: 20 Tips to Help You Think Like a Bassist

"Bass is more than just a guitar with two fewer strings. It has a different tone, scale length, feel and musical role, and in many cases it requires a different conceptual and technical approach."

FX LOOPS EXPLAINED | Pro Guitar Shop

"Learn about the FX loop capability of your guitar amp. We demystify the send and return jacks on your amp."

How Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Influenced The Sound of Arrow

"A conversation with composer Blake Neely, the man behind the scores of Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow."

'Game of Thrones' Finale: Composer on 'Light of the Seven'

"Series composer Ramin Djawadi reveals how two voices and a piano contributed to one of the show's tensest sequences yet."

Composer Carter Burwell says most directors don't care if a score is 'good' or 'interesting' | 89.3 KPCC

"You might think a director would be adamant that his or her film would also have really good music to accompany the story, but Burwell says that's rarely the case."

Loudness Explained - Loudness | TC Electronic

"Today, the most fundamental audio issue of all is control of loudness."

Mastering: The Guide

"Mastering is your final chance to make your song shine and sit comfortably alongside the other tracks on an EP or album. Mike Hillier explains everything you need to know…"

The Songwriters Behind the Hits of Katy Perry and Taylor Swift - The Atlantic

"Meet the bald Norwegians and other unknowns who actually create the songs that top the charts."

10 Essential Reverb Tips - Get That Pro Sound

"A quick rundown of the most essential reverb tips, from setting pre-delay to using combinations of long and short reverbs to craft professional, 3-dimensional mixes."

7 Obscure Mixing Techniques Used by the Pros

"Seven counterintuitive mixing techniques that the pros use regularly."

The 4 Phases Of Developing Your Creative Voice

"We all have heroes of our chosen craft. These are people we deeply admire, because their work moves us, and challenges us to be better at our own. They are unmistakable because their voice comes through loud and clear in their work. However, it's tempting to fall prey to the notion that these remarkable few people emerged from the womb ready and able to produce brilliance."

How Compression Affects Harmonic Distortion

"How compression can affect harmonic distortion of a signal."

Trent Reznor, Danny Elfman and Top Composers Reveal Insecurities, Power of Procrastination...

"Five sleep-deprived film music maestros - including Marco Beltrami, John Powell and Hans Zimmer - open up about their biggest challenges, what happens when a director doesn't like their work and where they get their inspiration"

Making Audio Plugins Part 1: Introduction

I've wanted to start playing around with developing my own audio plugins for a while, now. This blog series seems like the place to start.

Ennio Morricone: good film scores have been replaced by the bad and the ugly

I can assure you Mr. Morricone would never, ever make the joke in the headline.

John Williams on Star Wars: The Force Awakens

It's John Williams interview time again! This one is with Vanity Fair and is all about some new film called The Star Wars or something like that.

Accidents? Those are the great bits! - a Designing Sound interview with Warren Ellis

"This month's theme here at Designing Sound is Destruction and Ellis is someone who's not afraid of gritty, noisy, textured, explosive, destructive sound - his approach to sound is often to use accidents in creative ways. Here he talks about his methods and inspirations - and why he loves cinema."

Using Ribbon Mics to Warm up Digital Recordings

An article on the often unappreciated ribbon mic and its usefulness in home studio recordings.

Audio: On the Score with Howard Shore :: Film Music Magazine

"It's a diverse, and busy season indeed for one of film scoring's most intellectually striking composers, who now talks about traveling the roadmap of Middle Earth and our own psyches on this episode of 'On the Score.'"

Hearing : Recording Magazine

"What I really want to discuss is how [our] hearing system works, and how it is that it works so well that we aren’t even aware of it working. And once we know this stuff, we can really expand our craft as recording engineers."

Super Mario Bros. theme - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Who wouldn't want to read about the theme from the original Super Mario Bros, composed by Koji Kondo?

Composer Hans Zimmer Talks 'Interstellar' Origin, Punk Influence on 'Dark Knight'

"The Oscar-winning composer tells the intimate stories behind the blockbusters he scores."

Trent Reznor on Turning 50, the Future of Nine Inch Nails and a Top-Secret Apple Project

A Billboard interview with Trent Reznor. He talks about Gone Girl and sound design, David Lynch and green grass. All kinds of stuff, really.

BBC Radio 4 - Into the Music Library

"It's the music which has surrounded us our whole lives, but which most of us have never quite heard let alone listened to... and nearly all of it made in the UK. Sometimes called 'Source music', 'Mood Music' or as it's best known, 'Library music': a hugely important part of British sonic history. Its use and purpose is simple: it's well produced, economic music for film, TV, advertising and radio. Never commercially available to the general public, this music was pressed onto vinyl from the 1950s onwards in short, limited quantities and then sent directly to TV production houses and radio stations for use when necessary."

’70s hitmaker Paul Williams on having his songs sung by The Carpenters and The Muppets  · Set List · The A.V. Club

"Although a performer in his own right, and an unlikely star in the ’70s, Paul Williams is best known for his lyrics, providing heartfelt sentiments to performers as diverse as Helen Reddy and Kermit The Frog."

Danny Elfman on Oingo Boingo, film scores, and the Beatles almost ruining Batman

For decades, Danny Elfman has been behind some of the most distinctive music created for film and television, a body of work that’s both impressive in its magnitude and surprising in its variation—all while still retaining a sound that is unmistakably his.

NASA Posts a Huge Library of Space Sounds, And You're Free To Use Them

NASA has put portions of their audio archive on Soundcloud, free for use in your audio projects.

Alexander Publishing Releases Alex North Film Scoring Series With Cues and Video Instruction :: Film Music Magazine

"Alexander Publishing, working with the North Family, has begun releasing the Alex North Film Scoring Series featuring newly engraved scores in concert key of actual film cues of Academy Award winning A-list composer Alex North."

Inverse Square Law for Sound

A little bit of math and science regarding the infamous inverse square law.

Sonic Architecture | Designing Sound

"Over the years, the relationship and analogy between music/sound art/sound design and architecture has been explored in several aspects. In the same way architecture works over the solid materials, visual spaces, geometry, abstract realities or social contexts, it does over the aural realities, the sonic dimension. When it comes to space, sound can be valued in an architectural process, just as architecture is also sonic."

Spaces From Noise | Designing Sound

"Impulse responses are great for recreating spaces, whether it is a resonant glass bottle or a large cave. Here’s a handy a trick for sculpting your own impulse responses, and therefore your own reverbs, from something that we spend a lot of time getting rid of — noise!"

Mix Tips For Kick & Bass

"What better place to start building your mix than the kick‑drum and bass parts? Get them to work well together and you're on your way to a good mix..."

Tips and Tricks for a Proper Bass Mix

"Bass can be challenging to get just right in a mix, but the following tips, tricks, and tools can help you harness that thunder down under."

How much difference is there between MP3, CD and 24-bit audio?

"Debates rage over whether hi-res music is a gimmick. Three Guardian writers put four music formats – and their ears – to the test"

20 Tips On Songwriting

"Every songwriter goes through times when the inspiration just seems to dry up, and the perspiration doesn't seem to be working. Debbie Poyser offers some guidance."

Programming Realistic Drum Parts

A lot can change in four years, but there's still a lot of good information in this SOS article from 2010 about programming percussion.

Music Supervisors Sound Off On Art, Craft of Complex Profession

Variety interviewed several members of the Guild of Music Supervisors in order to nail down what, exactly, the role of the music supervisor is in film and TV.

Audio: On the Score with Tyler Bates :: Film Music Magazine

"On a new episode of 'On the Score,' Tyler Bates talks about the challenge of creating an epic score that works on all oddball and old-school blasters to create his space in the Marvel universe."

Should You Change Guitar Strings for the Studio?

"There's a lot of debate about how often to change your guitar strings in the studio. No matter what people say, it's a matter of opinion." In this article we’re going to look at both sides of the coin.

How to Mix 808′s – Into The Lair #94 | Pensado's Place

Dave Pensado’s assistant engineer Cole Nystrom show’s his method for mixing 808 kick drums inside of a track.

The Story of the Focusrite Studio Console « Audio Geek Zine

Focusrite has produced a really interesting documentary about the Focusrite Studio Console. There are only 10 in the world and they travel to see them all. During the production of the video one of the consoles was destroyed.

10 Tips for Better Low End

"Bass frequencies present unique challenges, and it often takes experimentation, skill, and compromise to deliver a tight and deep mix. This said, when Recording received an email from a reader wondering how to get that 'big bass sound heard on today’s recordings', I set out to compile some of the tips I've picked up while trying to make professional mixes."

Recording Latin Percussion

"Latin music is popular all over the world, but it has its own unique assortment of quirks and exotic instruments. Four of the genre's leading engineers explain what it takes to make a conga sing and timbales talk."

Enhance Your Music with a Subtlety Layer

"Adding a layer of subtle elements can bring your music to a new level, just like the right garnish and spice can turn a main dish into a gourmet entree."

Recording Brass Instruments

"Recording and Mixing great brass sounds in a home studio. Concentrating on recording and mixing the Trumpet and Trombone, including an overview of the physical characteristics of brass instruments and how they're played."

Mastering keyboard shortcuts makes Cubase easier to use and is good for your health!

I've finally committed to learning the Cubase keyboard shortcuts that can make music production life so much easier. I'm thinking about picking up a dedicated keyboard, but in the meantime, here's a Sound On Sound article that covers the basics.

Composer Interview: Nate Barr

A great interview with composer Nate Barr, composer for The Americans, Hemlock Grove and others.

Production Music in the Multi-Screen Universe

"When perusing the offerings of production music companies, large and small, it’s easy to find those that are adding a new library or two, striking up a partnership, enhancing search technology, etc. But what has changed so much in recent years is the availability of platforms where the music might be used."

20 More Mixing Tips from Steven Slate

"Due to the popularity of Steven Slate’s first fifty mixing tips, we decided to round up some of his latest mixing tips from this past winter (frosted tips?). ReTweet his tweets or share this post if you find them useful."

6 Nuances You Feel, Not Hear

"Six subtleties you can work into your mix to give it that extra 5%."

Exploring the Boundaries – A Close Look at an Invisible Microphone

I didn't really know too much about boundary microphones, but this article helped quite a bit. I'm thinking about picking up a pair to set up as ambient room mics.

Banishing Your Inner Critic

"Everybody has one: the inner critic that tells you you’re just faking it, that others have more talent, that you’ll never achieve the success you seek. The inner critic is an unconscious deterrent that stands between the seeds of great ideas and the fruits of achievement..."

Via: 99u.com

Better Bass: The Complete Guide To Recording, Mixing & Monitoring The Low End

"Bass instruments — whether acoustic, electric or electronic — are crucial to the majority of modern music. We all know we need to make the bass end work and, for most contemporary styles at least, that we need to make the bass part 'pump' and work with the drums to establish a compelling groove...This article explores the theory behind some common problems, and suggests tips and techniques to overcome them."

4 Ways To Hear More In Music

"You love the music you love, but you'll love it even more if you listen closely. Analysis will never trump feeling: The way a piece or a song moves us is ultimately what makes music lovers (addicts, really) come back for more. But the more you understand how composers and musicians manipulate the fundamental four elements of music — rhythm, melody, harmony and color — is a peek behind the curtain."

Alexandre Desplat on the art of scoring film

An interview with composer Alexander Desplat on the art of scoring for film.

HOW PERFORMANCE-FREE MUSIC LIBRARIES HURT THE INDUSTRY

"A new kind of music library is bypassing the global performing rights societies and threatening the value of performing rights for all publishers, composers and songwriters."

Thunderbolt Audio Interfaces Are Here, Should We Care?

Thunderbolt audio interfaces. Better, faster, stronger?

Q&A With Steve Porcaro

Musinq is a new site for interacting with musicians and composers. This is a link to their Q&A page for 'Justified' composer Steve Porcaro.

Black Sails – I. (The Sound of Sails)

Bear McCreary's got a new soundtrack release for the Starz pirate extravaganza 'Black Sails' and an 8 part blog series chronicling its production.

8 Frequency Viruses You Need To EQ...

A quick analysis of frequency ranges and their tonal qualities at the mix level.

How to Create Width, Height and Depth in a Mix

"The hallmark of a great recording/mix for me is one where the music all lives within a tangible, dimensional world. The exception being songs that call for a two-dimensional or more lo-fi approach. In general, a recording that has width, height, and depth creates for a compelling sound. And truthfully I think part of the magic of a song is pulling the listener into a different world — creating the illusion of that space only adds to that effect."

Interview With John Powell

Have fun with this one. John Powell, composer of How To Train Your Dragon and X3: The Last Stand (seriously great score) makes an art of avoiding serious answers to Spitfire Audio's earnestly straightforward questions.

MLR - Metadata

Music Library Report again with tips on coming up with the keywords and descriptions that help people find your music. Never a fun task, but an important one.

MLR - Cue Tips

Music Library Report with some general tips on structuring library tracks with the end user in mind.

Composer shares how to work our (Getty Images Music) system

Composer Kerry Muzzey shares some tips on how to maximize placements for your production music.

Writing for Music Libraries – Part I

"Russell Bell takes you through the nitty-gritty of writing for stock music libraries. In this first part he talks about how to break into the industry, what to expect and how to hone your skills for this kind of work."

iTunes for Composers

"iTunes is a straightforward and simple application for organizing and listening to music. You probably don’t need someone to explain to you how it works. But there are a few unique features of iTunes that a lot people don’t take advantage of. If you’re a composer/producer/songwriter with a lot of music to keep track of, getting the most out of iTunes can vastly improve your workflow."

Interview with Prometheus composer Marc Streitenfeld

Excerpt: "We recorded for… a little over a week. I split up some of the sessions because I wanted to do an initial session to try out some different sounds and techniques. I tried to do a few unusual approaches with this. I recorded some of the score backwards – but not in the sense that I just reversed the recording. I actually wrote out the sheet music backwards so the orchestra played it backwards and then I digitally flipped it. So you’re hearing the score as it’s written, the same melody, but with a backwards sounding orchestra which gives it a kind of unusual, unsettling sound."

Music Supervision at Saatchi & Saatchi: Ryan Fitch on Licensing, Libraries and Discovering New Artists

"Being a music producer at this level requires knowledge of countless developments in music, from original music and synch licensing trends, publishing workflows, and legal issues, to iPad OS updates. And, of course, finding the world’s greatest music before anyone else does."

Interview with Alan Silvestri

An interview with The Avengers composer Alan Silvestri

How Do You Want That, Baked, Half-Baked Or Ready To Be Baked?

Composer and author Jay Asher overviews the many sample library companies in the context of how much, or how little, room sound comes built in.

Phase: Timing Difference or Polarity?

Randy Coppinger has written a detailed article covering the different problems associated with "phase issues" and potential solutions.

SoundCloud 101

A great write up from Scorecast Online covering the basics of Soundcloud, featuring technical details and individual user stories.

'Their movie trailer music is proudly commercial'

Two Steps From Hell, Future World Music, Audiomachine and other companies specialize in scoring for previews.

The DIY Musician’s Complete Guide to YouTube

"CD Baby’s DIY Musician Blog has posted a number of articles about how artists can use YouTube to promote their careers. Here are our favorite tips, tricks, tech-recommendations, and interviews, organized below by category, and compiled as The DIY Musician’s Complete Guide to YouTube."

What Directors Want From Their Composers

Composer Deane Ogden is in the middle of an illuminating series of blog posts called 'Essential Skills of a Modern Day Film Composer' which, as the title suggests, has the goal of identifying and improving the skills needed for getting and keeping work as a film composer.

Movie trailer music: it's not what you think

"Contrary to popular belief, the soundtracks to movie trailers don't come from the film. Stephen Kelly learns the trade tricks from the composers whose job it is to make you care"

'Dynamic Range' & The Loudness War

"We all know music is getting louder. But is it less dynamic? Our ground‑breaking research proves beyond any doubt that the answer is no — and that popular beliefs about the 'loudness war' need a radical rethink."

What Music Supervisors Wish You Knew

"In addition to jockeying for position with every singer,group,DJ,beats-maker and song plugger,the line-up of hopefuls extends in yet another direction. That’s right,the cadre of competitors for the licensing of music and songs includes one more group of powerful individuals at increasingly powerful companies. And who might that be? Production music libraries."

Interview With Composer Alan Silvestri

"For a composer who always brings out the big thematic guns in the field of musical battle, there’s no more fitting hero for Alan Silvestri to suit up with than CAPTAIN AMERICA."

Expert Testimony

Advice from music supervisor Wendy levy about song placements in TV productions.

Simple Steps to Getting Placed: Advice from Music Supervisor John Houlihan

"Approximately 10 years ago, about 20% of the songs and music used in the average film project were production library music, with about 80% 'big songs.' Today, that is reversed with about 80% of major projects being made of production library music and about 20% 'big songs'."

Trailer shops cue music

Some insights into the world of film trailer music from Variety.

Guitars in Rock and Metal Soundtracks

"Music genres like rock or metal consist mostly of drums, bass and guitars. This tutorial is only about guitars. We are going to show you how we record guitars for rock and metal music tracks and how we place them in the mix."

Recording the Star Wars Saga

Everything about composing/recording John Williams' Star Wars scores, down to the mics used on the tubas.

Finale, Collaborating on Music for Television, and "The Event"

An overview of the process of getting NBC's The Event score from the composer to the orchestra.

VSL Demos With MIDI Tutorials

Great resource for seeing the inner workings of detailed MIDI mockups of the works of the great composers.

MIDI Drum Traps 'n Tips

A tutorial covering how to improve MIDI drum workflow and make them sound more authentic.

'The Sounds Of Star Wars,' Now At Fans' Fingertips

NPR's interview with Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt detailing how and where he got the films' signature sounds.

The Keeping Score Interview: Music Supervisor Randall Poster

An interview with music supervisor Randall Poster on what, exactly, he does.

Great Moments In Film Orchestration History: Bernard Herrmann

An article about Bernard Herrmann and the use and effect of interesting tonal colors.

Behind the Score: Assassin's Creed

A collection of interviews with composer Jesper Kyd that detail his work on the Assassin's Creed video game franchise.

Interview With Composer David Arnold

An interview with Stargate, James Bond, and now Narnia composer David Arnold.