Thunderbolt Collection: Get up to 50% off Spitfire’s most popular libraries for 48 hours only

Spitfire Audio Thunderbolt

Spitfire Audio has launched a sale on the Thunderbolt Collection, offering up to 50% off regular on a collection of 6 virtual instrument libraries. Discover the gargantuan Hans Zimmer Strings; the instinctive and intimate British Drama Toolkit, created with composer Sam Sim; our cutting edge collaboration, London Contemporary Orchestra Strings; the progressive Alternative Solo Strings; […]

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Hans Zimmer Strings instrument plugin (VST/AU/AAX) now available

Spitfire Audio Hans Zimmer Strings featSpitfire Audio has released the previously announced Hans Zimmer Strings, a virtual string instrument that offers groundbreaking string sampling. Hans has often said that ‘the true magic of sampling is when you are creating something that’s impossible in reality’. For Hans Zimmer Strings, we’ve adopted his groundbreaking approach to large group sampling and taken it […]

Spitfire Audio announces Hans Zimmer Strings plugin, available for preorder

Spitfire Audio Hans Zimmer StringsSpitfire Audio has announced the upcoming Hans Zimmer Strings, a new virtual string instrument in collaboration with Hans Zimmer. Hans Zimmer Strings features 147 techniques, 234 presets and up to 26 mic positions. To create the greatest film scores in the world, you need to think outside the box. Hans Zimmer, the Godfather of Orchestral […]

Spitfire Audio releases Hans Zimmer Percussion for Kontakt Player

Spitfire Hans Zimmer PercussionSpitfire Audio has announced the release of Hans Zimmer Percussion, a cinematic percussion instrument library for Native Instruments Kontakt and Kontakt Player. Hans Zimmer Percussion is a consolidation of Hans Zimmer’s mixes from HZ01 and HZ03, plus additional features such as a brand new, intuitive GUI. The NKS-ready library features the ensembles and solo instruments […]

Triple Spiral Audio releases Dark Dreams soundset for Serum

Triple Spiral Audio Dark Dreams for SerumTriple Spiral Audio has announced its new Dark Dreams soundset for the Serum virtual synthesizer instrument by Xfer Records. Dark Dreams is a new cinematic soundset for Xfer’s Serum. The soundset contains 75 new presets, 59 wavetables and 13 noises and is inspired by the great works of Hans Zimmer, Trent Reznor, Junkie Xl, Deadmau5 […]

For Nolan, Zimmer, creating suspense in time with sound design

From timbre to form and even pitch, everything we do in sound and music is about time. And hit movie Dunkirk offers some accessible examples of that.

Some of the most obvious things you can say about music turn out, oddly, to be the most profound. Producer/composer Nicolas Bougaïeff was over in the office here in Berlin the other day to tutor electronic music producers (more on this soon), and one of the things he tried to get across was thinking about time. That is, from the largest element to the smallest, from biggest structure to tiny details of timbre, “all musical parameters are about segmenting time.” As Dr. Nick put it, that’s “adding significance to an infinite stream.”

But that’s a big deal. In the midst of talking about perfect kick drums or which branch of tech-house someone thinks will do well on Beatport, it’s easy to forget what music really does. We change the perception of time by segmenting it with vibrations of air. (Seriously, I imagine you can – and if you love music, should – keep thinking about that for the rest of your life and not ever tire of the issue.)

Now, this can very quickly get academic. So let’s look at an example that you could share with just about anyone – a film score.

VOX has a great piece up this week looking at Dunkirk, the box office smash from director Christopher Nolan. (I’ll leave out film criticism here, apart from saying seriously, feature Indian people next time. But we can focus on sound.)

There’s actually a lot going on here.

First, there’s the fact that Hans Zimmer purposely references time itself with his signature clock-ticking sound. (This somehow works even if Millennials have grown up without mechanical timepieces.) That’s a reminder, perhaps, that nothing is too cliché if deftly handled.

The main feature of the video is Shepard Tone – the illusion of ever-rising tones created by overlapping ascending sounds, barber pole style.

Hans Zimmer has taken that gesture, known mostly from electronic sound, and rendered it in strings. Actually, the glissandi and tick-tock sounds in his work I think bear a striking resemblance to more experimental composer Iannis Xenakis, specifically Metastasis. (Tell me the THX Deep Note doesn’t do that, too!)

Vox does a perfect explanation of the Shepard-Risset Glissando – well, perfect, apart from the narrator incorrectly pronounces “RisseTTT.” French, people. 😉

But maybe what’s equally interesting is that this gesture is wrapped up in instrumental writing, in timing, and in incidental sound design, too. It’s a local gesture, but also the basis of the larger composition of the film. And it’s in Christopher Nolan’s sound effects, as well.

And there’s an emotional design here, as well. This is about suspense, about what keeps you at the edge of your seat.

I think that’s an ideal reflection for our electronic music creations. Often, we can get caught up in designing a particular sound … or, alternatively, lost in trying to make the form come together.

Here is a reminder that all of this is about dividing up time – and about the way in which that impacts perception and emotion.

So even the microcosm of a single sound can be about the desired sense of mood. And actually, that should be liberating. It’s actually not so academic, after all – the Risset tones are kinetic on the level of something you’d see on a kid’s toy. Think what other rules you might be able to design. You’re free to play directly with the connection of mood and motion, noise as a means of disrupting time.

And on that note, happy music making.

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