Recent FMA Blog Posts
This is a feed of featured blog posts from FMA users. Blog on, bloggers!
cheyenne_h on 09/26/2017 at 04:08PM
You may remember Visager from his Radio Free Culture interview or his albums "Songs from an Unmade World" 1 & 2, both of which are great in and of themselves, which he released using CC BY licenses to help support game creators with limited budgets. He's made a soundtrack for a new game and I couldn't wait to hear what he had to say about it! Here's our interview:
FMA: Tell me about why you wanted to make "Songs from an Unmade World" 1 & 2.
Visager: The Songs albums are heavily inspired by another NYC composer named Eric Skiff. I came across Eric's Creative Commons album Resistor Anthems through an online game called Reprisal that had used his music. Seeing later that his work was used in so many other projects blew my mind, and people are still discovering and using his music today. Eric was nice enough to meet with me a few years back, and his encouragement ultimately gave me the push I needed to finish my own first album of open-source video game music, Songs from an Unmade World, in 2015!
FMA: What's the appeal in making video-game style music without a game to score? Why do you share this music for free?
Visager: When I decided I wanted to focus on making music for games (I previously had done composition for theater and film), I felt like I needed to have proof in hand that I could make the kind of game music that inspired me growing up. I'm a visual person, too, so for me imagining a fictitious world and then making the music to fit it is a very happy way of composing. It was my hope that putting the music out in the Creative Commons would allow me to connect with other developers, while also being useful for folks who need music for small student games or animations!
FMA: What are your thoughts on 'retro' chiptune-style music? You seem to have moved away from it in your latest FMA release, "Songs from an Unmade Forest World."
Visager: Video game music is awesome; it's a really unique category of music. Although we have a sort of agreed idea of what stereotypical game music sounds like (e.g. chiptune, instrumental, electronic), I think video game soundtracks as a whole cover more genres and take more risks than any other medium, especially as games themselves have evolved to be more diverse and complex. With Forest World I wanted to explore the more organic side of video game sounds, borrowing ideas from composers like Manaka Kataoka (Breath of the Wild), Jonathan Geer (Owlboy), and Joel Corelitz (Tumbleseed).
FMA: So now you've scored a game called "Blossom Tales," which is coming out soon. How did you get involved in this project? Did the Free Music Archive help you get connected with the makers of "Blossom Tales" or was there a more winding path to this collaboration?
Visager: So Blossom Tales came out already for PC this past March, but the publisher FDG Games just announced this month that it's coming to the Nintendo Switch, which is really a dream come true for me! Blossom Tales is the biggest project I've worked on and it's thanks to you all at FMA. Just over a year ago now, the developers Castle Pixel had been using some of my music from the first Songs album as a placeholder in the game when they saw that I was active and looking for work. I had just finished Songs 2 and was looking for a project, so just everything about it was super lucky. I'm still very grateful to the whole team for taking me on.
FMA: Tell us about the game itself and what sorts of music you composed for it.
Visager: Blossom Tales is an top-down zelda-inspired game starring a rad female knight, Lily, who's out to save her kingdom from the clutches of an evil wizard. The story's told Princess Bride style, with a grandpa reading at bedtime to his grandkids Lily and Chrys, and the story changes a bit as the kids intervene. The music is a pretty cheery bunch of electronic songs. Sonically, it's a mix of sounds from SNES and Game Boy era games and each environment has its own dedicated music. The soundtrack is about 40minutes long in total. If folks are interested they can check it out over on my Bandcamp. Here's the trailer:
FMA: Anything on the horizon for you (that you can talk about)? Any advice for aspiring composers who want to break into the gaming soundtrack world?
Visager: This year has been exciting for me, in that I've been able to go to more game conferences than ever before! I've gotten to meet a lot of cool folks working in both 2D games and in the VR community, and there's some neat stuff on the horizon, but nothing I can quite talk about yet! I'm still very much in the start of my career so my advice, like anyone's, should be taken with a grain of salt - but in my experience the best thing you can do when meeting other folks from an industry you want to work in is just be a nice and genuine person and be supportive of others' work. If anyone wants to reach out I'm pretty active on Twitter and am happy to chat there!
Visager can also be found at his own personal website.
cheyenne_h on 09/25/2017 at 10:49AM
We are very excited to announce this year's newest FMA swag item - a tote bag! Heather Faye Kahn, the artist who designed this bag, is an illustrator, animator and visual artist in New York. She is also the host of Hello Children, a weekly freeform radio program on WFMU whose last episode (for now) was Sept 10, 2017. You can find out more about her here.
This bag, at 15x15 in, will fit a few vinyl records inside, or some groceries, or many many mp3s! Pick one up with a $180 one-time donation, or a $15 monthly donation (your choice).
cheyenne_h on 09/19/2017 at 10:18AM
*****THIS GIVEAWAY IS OVER. THANKS FOR PLAYING!********
From the Critter & Guitari website:
The Pocket Piano is a fun, versatile synthesizer! It has seven synth modes, a rugged anodized aluminum and wood enclosure and 18 maple keys. It’s got a 3W built-in speaker and a line out audio jack. The Pocket Piano is perfect for making music in the studio, around a campfire and at your kitchen table! The seven synth modes are:
• Vibrato Synth
• Harmonic Sweeper
• Two-Octave Arpeggiator
• Octave Cascade
• Mono FM Synth
• FM Arpeggiator
• Mono Glider
To operate, turn it on and start playing keys. Use the Mode button to select modes. Depending on the mode, you can select from four wave forms (sine, square, triangle or sawtooth) or increase the octave with the auxiliary button. Each mode has two parameters that are controlled by the two left knobs.
The following modes offer four voice polyphony: Vibrato Synth, Harmonic Sweeper, 2-Octave Arpeggio, Octave Cascade, FM Arpeggio. The remaining modes (Mono FM Synth, Mono Glider) are monophonic. The tuning knob adjusts the keyboard over two octaves and the far right knob controls volume. The ‘Hold’ function maintains notes that are playing and frees up your hands for other musical tasks.
The winner will be drawn on Friday, Sept 29th! See it in action here:
For the official rules, please see our Eligibility Notice.
massdist on 09/18/2017 at 09:51PM
Around 2000, Mass Dist made 2 comps highlighting and hyping our many releases.
The first - Comphellation 1 - was put together primarily by Jonah. He's so awesome at putting together mixes and this one flows together really well.
The second - Comp 2 - was spearheaded by myself. It is a mess! 67 tunes over 2 cds. Tons of noise, tons of our friends, and tons of weird edits. It made sense to me at the time.
Look at this insane list of artists on these comps:
Elf P Godbois Donkey Dissaster Deer Hoof Raw Dog Rex and the Family Devil Music Don Lenon Tunnel of Love 2000 Flushes Craig and Tim Mike D Blind Mitre The Judds The Grand Island DJ Skatological ACLSDC Bull Roarer The Frogs Tuttle Music Jimmy Cousings Tristan Dunster Eloe Omoe J.K. Mellow Man Rick School of Dada No Peddlers Stinky Treats Git then Crusty Nautical Almanac vs. Bull Roarer Love Handlers Kevin Purvis X-Members Dave Moody Raw Dog March 28th 1:41 am 2000 Infinite Blob Jero Harris Devil Music The Druid Fat Day NMSE Dildo Von Dildo Koondaa Holaa and the beetches Neptune vs. Can't The Tickler WACSAC Racket Attack Malabaster Touch a Booty Jesus Chrust Tanqueray Force Field Neon Hunk Elvish Presley Maggotzoid Keel Project Yosh the Gift An Angband band Meerk Puffy Monkeys ? Band PornBelt PPPPicsces Duct Tape Union Corn Dawg Meets Wesley Willis Leif Richey's boom box meets Filthy LaBottom Hillbilly Werewolf Wolf Eyes Cottin K's Mystery Brinkman NMSB Bullroarer Olneyville Sound System Grand Banks Lightning Bolt Stems Miagi Patrick Muecke Automatic Hi I'm on Fire 54 Franklin Street USAISAMONSTER Mix Ape RWL rap allstars M.O.R.B. Julien Boyer Peostenkill Romantic Snowman La Vid Est Immense Harry Fishpye and the Brown Sounds Jeffrey M P&L Railroad
massdist on 09/17/2017 at 10:19PM
They did it. How psyched was I.
Exclusive music from The Druid, Mix Ape, Force Field, Meerk Puffy, Mystery Brinkman, Hi I"m On Fire, M.O.R.B, and Lightning Bolt
This mix gives a unique window on a normal day at the Fort - a life changing psychedelic show space art studio etc loft in Providence, Rhode Island.
Ps. I do want to add that Matt got mad at me cause he thought I was making a 5 second song comp. There was a communication breakdown and I felt terrible that Matt felt terrible. We've hung out and had awesome times a million times since then and are cool but I do want to be clear that Im sorry this happened and I never meant to mislead him or steal their juice. What I wanted was interlude music in between the mass dist music, but I have had a tendency to miscommunicate. I hope in some way that this blog post, by compiling only the Fort Thunder music, puts the music in an entertaining and satisfying light.
Listen below or here
cheyenne_h on 09/15/2017 at 01:39AM
CONGRATULATIONS to Jason S from Brooklyn NY, winner of this year's first fundraiser giveaway!!
Here's a video of the drawing from the Cat Lodge near Snoqualmie, WA:
On Monday, we begin our Critter & Guitari giveaway!
TAGGED AS:fma fundraiser
cheyenne_h on 09/14/2017 at 04:29AM
Wm Berger was a beloved friend, musician, and longtime WFMU DJ. His long-running program, "My Castle Of Quiet," had its own Free Music Archive curator page which is home to more than 200 live tracks from his radio show. He will be remembered for his good humor, kind spirit, and devoted love of music and film. He was well-known at WFMU and his legacy will not only live on through the WFMU archives and the lasting influence he made on everyone he met, but also the music he added to the Free Music Archive for posterity. He will be dearly missed.
The Free Music Archive would like to honor Wm's diligence and dedication to the experimental, heavy, and complex sounds he loved. Find them all here.
TAGGED AS:my castle of quiet
Axletree on 09/13/2017 at 08:21PM
Browsing the FMA charts recently, I came across the track ‘If Only They Hadn’t’ by electronic music producer Sro. I found myself drawn in by the slow, gentle intro and bouncing drum machine, opening up into a layered world of reverbed synths. Spending some time with more of his music, I found time and again an infective catchiness infused with unexpected and sometimes unsettling undertones, bringing to mind electronic outfits like the Orb, Ladytron or Depeche mode, as well as nu breaks producers such as Plump DJs. With programs like Netflix’s Stranger Things or the BBC’s Trust Me and White Gold, there seems to be something of a move back to 80’s synth influences in production music, so I thought I’d take a little time to get to know a little more about this talented, experimental producer, and see what is involved in making this kind of thing…
Axletree: Your music combines a lot of elements, from grimy break-beat to syth-pop. Who are your chief influences in your work?
Sro: I'd say there are six main artists who really influence my work. Those being Hermitude, HOME, Daft Punk, Deadmau5, the Old Gorillaz and DJ Shadow’s older tracks as well. These artists have been a huge inspiration for me in finding what I enjoy making. Along with the Oldskool sound of Hip-Hop/Boombap from the 90s.
Axletree: Can you take us though some of your working process? What kinds of equipment do you use? Do you have a song planned at the start or does it emerge over time?
Sro: I don't have much in the way of equipment besides the very basics. I have a Axiom 49 (sitting atop a box that acts as a stand) that I got off a family member who wasn't using it and an old Pioneer SX-6 that was my great grandfathers stereo back in the day. Most of the time though I just use my desktop keyboard instead of the midi because it's more convenient in my current bedroom setup. My DAW is FL Studio and I have it filled with free VSTs that I've found from 1990s to 2017 and sample one shots from over 70 drum machines; I'm just constantly adding more to my collection.
The process of making music, from what I've found, is very subconscious. Like for me if I try to make a song with a set idea of what it all should be then nine times out of ten it will never go anywhere and I'll get bored of it. Of course there is random inspiration from an idea in which you will try and cultivate into musical form, but trying to forcibly make it happen is just a no go. All my tracks give off a certain feeling or vibe to me that I had when I first started to create it. I know this may seem hard to understand but I don't know if there's any better way to explain it, other than a vague answer such as I just let it happen. Or I guess another way of saying it is all the feelings and happenings that happened that day play a huge role in the making of music even if I don't consciously think of them.
Axletree: It's nice to put the work into context - where are you from? Would you say your place and time has an impact on your music?
Sro: I'm from a small town in West Virginia, I'm not classically trained in music, and I only just started to really get into making music last November after graduating high school. I also plan on making music videos for my songs soon too since they all have their own story to tell. Now my place and time definitely have a huge impact on my music. There's no doubt about that because like I said, I find it to all be a subconscious process and the world I'm living in is filled with constant coverage on stuff that gives fear. Always filled with morbid, depressing, or outrageous things for the masses to digest. I feel we all need to cool down and just chill out for a bit, find a healthy mental balance in your life. At least that's what I hope to convey in my music.
You can hear Sro here.
cheyenne_h on 09/12/2017 at 01:06PM
Every Tuesday morning on WFMU, Cheyenne brings listeners a new selection from the Free Music Archive!
The song of the week appears on the "Wake 'n Bake with Clay Pigeon" program on WFMU, a morning program that airs from 6-9 a.m. (Eastern U.S. Time Zone) Monday through Friday. The FMA Pick of the Week airs around 8:45 a.m. every Tuesday! If you're not awake during that time, no worries, just tune in to the archives to find out what's featured.
Do you have a favorite song on FMA that you think should be featured as the FMA Pick of the Week? Comment below!
cheyenne_h on 09/07/2017 at 03:13PM
Back by popular demand, we're offering our Music History t-shirt for another year! Greg Harrison, the artist who designed the shirt, is an animator and illustrator from New Jersey. A longtime supporter and friend of WFMU, Greg has also helped the FMA with previous projects such as the Free Birthday Song Contest, the microSong challenge, and more. You can find out more about him here.
This shirt shows off a variety of music formats from the last century, including our beloved MP3 - the image below is a detail of the artwork. Pick one up with a $50 donation today!