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cheyenne_h on 10/23/2017 at 03:03PM

FMA Q&A: The Freeharmonic Orchestra!

Last year, the Freeharmonic Orchestra made its debut with "Freeharmonics Vol. 1," a groundbreaking round-robin music project that spanned the globe. I interviewed a couple of the artists last year for Radio Free Culture when the album dropped. This year's project is called "Space, Robots, the Future!" and features an impressive roster of musicians: Steve Combs, Lonely Punk, simon_mathewson, Monplaisir, Tapes & Tubes, Scott Holmes, gentil, Monk Turner, Matt Oakley, springtide, Ketsa, Art of Escapism, Jahzzar, Nic Bommarito, Matteo Berni, half cocked, Unthunk, Blue Dot Sessions and Small Colin. Needless to say, it's a profoundly varied listen and was a labor of love by these artists. Check it out (for free of course!) right here. I asked a few of the artists to tell me about their experiences and you can read answers from Simon Mathewson, Offal Tunes, springtide & Unthunk (lightly edited) below.

FMA: How did you get involved with the Free Music Archive?

simon_mathewson: I make music and put it on the FMA. In the past I've put music on Myspace, Soundcloud, Mixcloud, Bandcamp etc but I've found that people who use the FMA to find music are far more responsive and my music has been used for film, animation, games, choreography, documentaries, podcasts and more.

Offal Tunes: I have been a participating artist on the FMA platform since July of 2015 and have been releasing material on the site ever since. At first I put out a bunch of tunes by a band called Bad Ronald until they broke up late in 2016. At that point I put together a new act called half cocked. Through the site I have been contacted more than a few times by video artists looking to use our material for their projects, which I found quite exciting. That has never happened on any of the other music distribution sites I have worked with. I also volunteer my time helping produce live sets for the WFMU community as well as helping out with some of the site's curatorial duties. It is a labor of love and I am thankful for the services that the FMA provides!

springtide: I’m the only member of one-man band called springtide. I have been releasing my tunes on FMA since 2012, and it allows me to connect with listeners around the world, including talented videographers.

Unthunk: I use FMA as a distribution hub for my recorded music. I got involved through Lee Rosevere of the netlabel Happy Puppy Records. He graciously agreed to put out something I was working on, and as you know, the label operates through FMA.

FMA: Where do you live and make music?

simon_mathewson: South West England.

Offal Tunes: I reside in Manhattan and can be found walking the streets of the East Village with my rat terrier, Jackie.

springtide: Tokyo, Japan.

Unthunk: Bowen Island, BC Canada.

FMA: How did you become involved with the Freeharmonic Orchestra?

simon_mathewson: Last year I made an album with Steve Combs and he suggested the idea getting lots of FMA musicians together to make a collaborative album. He organised Freeharmonics Vol 1 and I organised Vol 2 (Space, Robots, the Future).

Offal Tunes: Simon Mathewson, who put the whole thing together along with Steve Combs, contacted me through the FMA site back in 2016 to ask me if I wanted to participate in a musical version of an "Exquisite Corpse" where artists would begin a composition and hand it off to someone else for completion. I loved the idea from the get go and agreed enthusiastically. I had a blast working on both projects!

springtide: I didn’t know about this project before Simon asked me if I’m interested in this type of collaboration. Actually, I have no idea why Simon selected me ;-) 

Unthunk: When Steve and Simon hatched the plan to produce the first album, I gather they browsed the FMA artists looking for likely participants. Simon sent me an email, and I was thrilled be included. I was therefore looking forward to Simon's call to action for volume 2.

FMA: Tell me about the song(s) you worked on.


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cheyenne_h on 10/20/2017 at 06:49PM

Help WFMU Get INTO THE BLACK!

This year, WFMU (our BFF's and the reason why FMA exists) is running a new October fundraising campaign: INTO THE BLACK! They want to get more people to help them with sustaining monthly donations to offset monthly expenses, and are offering handsome rewards in return. If you can, please consider donating to WFMU. Specifically, you can support WFMU + FMA by donating to support our radio show, the FMA Listening Party

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cheyenne_h on 10/20/2017 at 06:28PM

Atmospheric Dread from CorteX

Experimental curator Mumure Intemporel has brought a new album to FMA, and just in time for Halloween. Called "Paranormal," this album by CorteX is a sonic exploration of fears, dark corners of the psyche, and what lies beyond this plane of existence. Laden with haunting vocal samples and shortwave effects, this release is not for listening in a dark room, alone. Bridging noise, experimental, musique concrete, electronic effects and more, this album is spooky even if you don't believe in ghosts. 

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cheyenne_h on 10/03/2017 at 09:56PM

Sonic Hauntings at FMA

In collaboration with ccMixter, the FMA is asking everyone to send us their spookiest sounds! 

For the month of October, we're collecting spooky sounds (licensed for remix) for the Ghost Notes mixter

Filmmakers, game devs, app creators, and party goers hunting for haunting soundtracks will surely find spooky soundbeds, terrifying tunes, eerie anthems, and bone-chilling ballads! ccMixter members will be remixing these sounds to create Halloween soundscapes for parties, short films, and more! 

If you have a collection of spooky sounds (or feel like recording some and sharing them), we've opened a submission page for you! We're accepting spooky sounds until October 20th! Please notify the FMA when you upload spooky + shareable sounds for others to use.

If you're an artist and want to license your spooky sounds for use with a different license, please send us a link when it's live! 

Happy Halloween!

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cheyenne_h on 10/02/2017 at 12:04PM

BOSS RC-3 Loop Station Pedal - GIVEAWAY!

Our third and final giveaway is a BOSS RC-3 Loop Station Pedal! If you're feeling loopy, this pedal has what you need to express that, musically! 

Some of its features include: 

Up to three hours of stereo recording time, storage for 99 loops, a “real drums” rhythm guide, aux-in for digital loops, and USB 2.0 compatibility. It also has an "auto record" function that will start recording a sample as soon as you start playing. 

The suggested donation for this giveaway is $100. We'll draw and announce a winner on Friday, October 13th! 

See it in action here:  

Enter to win today!!

For the official rules, please see our Eligibility Notice.

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cheyenne_h on 09/29/2017 at 07:33PM

Critter & Guitari - WINNER!!!

Ross did a very high-tech drawing for this one. Check it out below!! 

Congrats, Joseph T from Brooklyn!

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fma giveaways
cheyenne_h on 09/26/2017 at 04:08PM

FMA Q&A: Visager

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!

Reprisal

 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.

Blossom Tales

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

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cheyenne_h on 09/25/2017 at 10:49AM

Bright Discovery tote bag by H. Faye Kahn

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). 

 

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cheyenne_h on 09/19/2017 at 10:18AM

Pocket Piano by Critter & Guitari - GIVEAWAY!

*****THIS GIVEAWAY IS OVER. THANKS FOR PLAYING!********

 

 

For the next two weeks, you can enter a drawing to win a Pocket Piano from Critter & Guitari! Enter now by making a suggested donation of $100! 

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

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cheyenne_h on 09/15/2017 at 01:39AM

CB Gitty Cigar Box Guitar Kit - WINNER!

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! 

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