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Sounds Working Together

Ian Draney

Sep 27, 2022

Sounds Working Together

From the beats of percussion and the reverberations of vocals to the warmth of melodies and the rumbles of bass, these harmonious rhythms are all deeply embedded into cultures throughout history and all over the world. These boundless collections of synchronous sounds have been with us since the dawn of the human race even before the rise of the first civilizations. Music, as this has been proclaimed to be, is an artform like none other. It is the art of harmonious and sometimes even dissonant sounds.

Music, like all artforms, is referred to as products of imagination and creativity in an often expressive corporeal form. Sound, not to be muddled with noise, is created by the energetic vibrations of molecules in a wave-like nature that emanates through some sort of physical medium such as a solid or fluid. These kinetic wavelengths, or soundwaves, exhibit many notable characteristics out of which four fundamental traits stand out above all. The first and most familiar out of these fundamental properties is volume which is the amplitude of the wave that can be measured as the length between the resting position of the molecule and the point of its maximum displacement. The tone or pitch of a sound, as represented by different keys on a piano, measures the number of cycles a wave undergoes per second. The duration of the sound measures how long the wave lasts and when repeated in successive patterns, produces tempos and rhythms. Lastly, the color of sound, which is often decided by the source or instrument that produces the wave, is referred to as timbre. Timbre is the shape of the wave itself and different musical instruments produce differently shaped soundwaves.

Artists that implement music do so by manipulating the fundamental aspects of various sounds which can be orchestrated together to create further sophisticated forms of this art medium. In order to develop music, the artist must have the values of at least one of the fundamental properties of a sound fluctuate along with a tempo guided rhythm. In the early days of humanity, cavemen accomplished this simply by beating their hands or held objects against various stalagmites and stalactites (the icicle shaped rock formations in caves) in an organized and ear-pleasing manner. Over the centuries, music has evolved as humans find more ingenuitive methods of producing these wonderful sounds. What was once the beating of pointy cave structures quickly became the blowing of bone flutes and, eventually, the workings of producing designed sounds from modern instruments and computers.

Musical artists, the makers of sound, are not the only players in the music industry. As with any product, the manufacturer needs distributors, sellers, part creators, and even primary resource providers. Music has a supply chain that starts, depending on whether the sound is electronic or not, with the sound designers or the instrument makers and inventors. One cannot orchestrate music without the sounds and someone else has to create said sounds. Once the sounds themselves have a source, a composer is required to create the organization of the notes. The job of a composer is about creating the sequences of sounds with various durations and pitches. Once a composition is made, it requires a musician to play the notes. Once the notes are played, an audio engineer is preferred so as to master the finished work suited to be played in a recorded medium: radio stations, CDs, streaming services, etc. Simply getting the finished recorded product is not enough though, that is where music distributors come into play. Music distributors are the ones responsible for the marketing side of the music industry. Above all, there are also many musical artists out there who focus on multiple stages of the assembly or production line for music.

There are many professions in the music industry, ones that work exclusively in one of the stages of production to ones that work or even assist in several. To name a few, there are musicians, directors, composers, sound designers, audio engineers, music venue owners, promoters, conductors, copyists, cover bands, DJs, licensing workers, vocalists, and technicians. Today, more than ever before thanks to previous advancements in technology, there are artists who are independent enough to work in most or even all of the stages of music production. While producers are employed to creatively lead a music project so as to bring the vision of an artist to life, there are also producers who act as their own artists. These independent artists are a new and emerging trend that is becoming increasingly common. Instead of having to be hired by a record label, they work effectively with the entrepreneurs of the music industry that will either outsource by buying sound samples or services from third parties or will go as far as to learning how to do everything on their own.

With the exception of DJs, the invention of the DAW or digital audio workstation is the main culprit for this new era of the music industry: an era of musical entrepreneurs. The most notable DAWs, which you may have heard of are Ableton Live, FL Studio, Logic Pro, Pro Tools, and even GarageBand. With a DAW, an artist is given full power over all of the stages of music creation, with the exception of distribution, all in a single application that can be downloaded onto a computer and there are even DAWs that you can install on your phone. While initially, this may sound very exciting, it makes getting a good foothold into the music industry that much more challenging because now everyone with a computer or smartphone can make songs from scratch. Even those who prefer the natural sounds of physical musical instruments, can record their own performances and then complete the mastering of those recordings on a DAW and even throw additional sounds like a beat alongside it.

Author: Ian Draney

Photographer: SkyHigh Team

SkyHigh Magazine

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