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On-Line Audio and Music Resources
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21
Author:dhomas trenn
Published by:CU-Amiga magazine (UK)
Date:April 1998

There is a wealth of resources on the internet for musicians and audio fanatics. This month we explore some of the best and more interesting sites throughout the web. Whether you are looking for detailed information on the origins of synthesizers or just want to find some cool sounds to compose or experiment with, it is all out there somewhere.

The Origins of Electronic Music
Do you know when electronic music originated? Would you believe that it all started over one hundred years ago?

The origins of electronic music can be traced back to the work of Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz... a name as long as the history of electronic music. It was Helmholtz (1821-1894) who, through his research on electromagnetically vibrating tines and resonating spheres, did some of the first work using tones to create complex natural sounds.

Resonator

The Helmoltz Resonator

Reportedly, one of the earliest electronic musical instruments was accidently discovered as a result of research in telephone technology. Elisha Gray, who arrived at the patent office one hour after Alexander Graham Bell to register a patent for the first telephone, discovered that he could control sound through a self-vibrating electromagnetic circuit and in doing so invented the single note oscillator. Gray's first instrument, the Musical Telegraph, could play notes over a two octave range and transmitted oscillations made by steel reeds over a telephone line using electromagnets.

MusicalTelegraph

The Musical Telegraph (1876)

120 Years of Electronic Music (www.obsolete.com/120_years/) - charts the history of electronic music, from Early Experiments (1870-1915), through the Vacuum Tube Era (1915-1960), Integrated Circuits (1960-1980) up to current day Digital Technology (1980-present). This site is a tremendous source of information about the technologies and instruments, people and accidents that made this music what it has become today.

Kraftwerk
Moving on to 1968 we come to the meeting of the founders of modern electronic music, Kraftwerk. Florian Schneider-Esleben and Ralf Hütter met at the Kunstakademie (Academy of Arts) in Remschied, near Düsseldorf, Germany. Later they both went on to be classically trained at the Düsseldorf Conservatory.

They formed a group called Organisation whose early music was a mixture of sounds, feedback and rhythm. In 1970, the two went on to create the KlingKlang studio and Kraftwerk was born. It was their music that began the evolution of house, techno and industrial music; as well influencing many other bands and styles of music.

Be sure to visit the official Kraftwerk website (www.kraftwerk.com/). It does not contain much, but it is definitely Kraftwerk.

For more detailed Kraftwerk historical information be sure to visit the Kraftwerk: The Early Years site (www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/8880/).

Kraftwerk

Kraftwerk

Music Machines
One of the largest and most comprehensive resources for information about electronic musical instruments is the Music Machines site (machines.hyperreal.org/).

There is a lot more here than it appears and it is definitely worth spending some time looking around. The Yesterday's Favourite Pages and the animated Winky Suggests areas can be very helpful.

The site is extensively cross-referenced, so you can get to some information in several different ways. In particular, the Categories section (machines.hyperreal.org/categories/) is one of the easier ways to find the information you are looking for.

From there, you can get to the DIY sections which contain information about Do-It-Yourself projects, including: schematics, part sources and other details on building and repairing electronic instruments.

The Manufacturers link will take you to a selection list of equipment manufacturers. From there, you can choose a manufacturer and then select a particular device. Each device section contains various information, including: patch/sound data, pictures, sysex documentation, specifications and more.

If you are researching to buy a particular device, this is the first place you should look. For more information, follow the Links link which takes you to lists of other related sites and official manufacturer sites. You might also want to follow the PriceLists link to see the New and Used Gear Price Lists. This will give you an idea of the current market price for many devices.

If you follow the Samples link, you will find links to downloadable sounds from more than 20 electronic instruments, including: Arp Odyssey, Linn LinnDrum, Moog MiniMoog, Roland TR drum machines and many more.

This site has it all and more... You can even e-mail virtual synth postcards to your friends (machines.hyperreal.org/ecards/).

I can not say enough good things about this site. It is tremendously well done and always expanding to better meet your needs.

MusicMachines

Music Machines

Synth Zone
The Synth Zone (www.synthzone.com/) is a large resource of links to sites related to: MIDI, electronic instruments, synth patches, music magazines, drum machine programming, music theory and lessons, newsgroups and much more.

SynthZone

Synth Zone

Sounds, Sounds and More Sounds
If you are looking for sounds, you will not have to look very hard. They are everywhere.

Probably the largest and most extensive site on the web, is Earth Station 1 (www.earthstation1.com/). This site contains many thousands of sounds in several categories, including: television, movie, historical, cartoons, radio, space, war, and more.

EarthStation1

Earth Station 1

The WAV Place (www.thewavplace.com/) is another good sound resource, although its organization can be a bit confusing. It contains many sounds along with short descriptions, including these categories: romance, horror, people, commercials, sports, holiday and more. If you are looking for some good sounds to enhance your workbench, check out the Computer Voice and Sounds section.

TheWavPlace

The WAV Place

Sound America (soundamerica.com/) claims to have over 22,000 sounds on-line. These sounds are organized into nine categories: cartoons, comedy, movies, television shows, spoofs, sound effects, war of the worlds, miscellaneous and themes.

I had problems getting WAV files from Sound America to play using Play16. Thomas Wenzel, author of Play16, shed some light on the problem. Apparently, these are not WAV files at all, but are actually MPEG audio files with a WAV header added on. Play16 does not know how to handle these files, but Thomas tells me that the next version of MPEGAHI will be able to play them directly.

I tried the various MPEG audio players currently available, and was only able to get MPEGA to play these disguised WAV files as is.

SoundAmerica

Sound America

If you are after MPEG3 audio files, The MPEG Repository (????) is one of the largest libraries on-line.

If these sites do not have everything you are looking for, the Cool Sounds (????) site contains links to many more sound sites. Here you can find your way to sounds of Star Trek, Star Wars, Beavis and Butthead, Monty Python and Sienfeld. Also, sentimental, funny, presidential, and much much more.


Realaudio
Amigans have been able to play WAV, AIFF and other common audio formats for a long time; but now many sites are adding RealAudio sounds. Until recently, Amigans could not listen to them; but that has now improved. RA is a RealAudio player with support for 14.4 KB/s files. Higher quality 28.8KB/s files will not work.

The program is very quick and on a 68030 at 25MHz will play back in near real time. Faster machines should have no problem achieving full speed. The program supports streaming audio, for use with internet radio and similar RealAudio sites, but unfortunately this is not currently supported by Amiga browsers. However, an included sample ARexx script will let you use RA with RealAudio streams.

RA requires ixemul.library and a sound player capable of playing 16 bit audio files. Play16 and AHI can be used for this purpose. In particular, the AHI AUDIO: device will allow you to easily pipe the output of RA directly to your sound card or internal audio for immediate play back.

You can find out more details about using the RealAudio player by visiting its support site (www.honeypot.net/audio/).

MIDI Files
If MIDI song files are what you are after, MIDI File Central (no longer online) is the place to go to find them. The files are divided into four main categories: themes, collections, artist/group and the mixed bag. Each is then sub-divided. You can find everything from Star Trek to Disney, Country to Classical, and Abba to ZZTop.

MidiFileCentral

MIDI File Central

Soundsite
If you want to find out more about the way sound works or about current applications of it, visit the on-line journal of Sound Theory, Philosophy of Sound and Sound Art at the Soundsite website (autonomous.org/soundsite/). Among the essays that this site contains are: Einstein and Cartoon Sound, Circuits of the Voice - From Cosmology to Telephony, and Extracts from Modes for Listening.

There is also a long and detailed list of links to sound artists, artworks, projects, journals, organisations and other related sites.

Soundsite

Soundsite

Magazines On-Line
You can find a tremendous resource of information from Electronic Musician's Article Archives (????). There you can enter in a search string and be presented with a listing of related articles from the magazine's many years of back issues. These articles are all available on-line for you to read.

Unfortunately, there is no way to get a listing of all the articles available, but if you browse on over to the young monkey studios (www.youngmonkey.ca/) site you can find a collection of Magazine Indexes in the Who Nose? section, which includes a fully categorized index of Electronic Musician articles and reviews (1988 - Current) as well as many other magazines. There is also an Audio Technical Information section containing other miscellaneous resources. In the Background section, you will find a small museum of custom and commercial music equipment.

Webside Story

Webside Story
If you still can not find what you are looking for, be sure to visit Webside Story's World 1000 site (????). They have a Top 1000 Music Sites listing that is sure to get you headed in the right direction.