AX Designer Matt Hobbs Talks about Audio Experiences and Service Design in Dublin

Perhaps one of the most popular elements of Irish culture is traditional Irish music - carrying momentum, constantly driving, building and evolving in a cheery, major tonality, often telling some kind of story. And for AX Designer Matt Hobbs, it was music and audio that were common threads throughout his visit to last week’s Service Design Global Conference in Dublin.

Service Design Global Conference in Dublin

Service Design Global Conference in Dublin

Hobbs spent four days in Dublin alongside design industry leaders, sharing experiences using design practices in different organizations, exploring service design case studies, and (of course) having a few pints with other folks from the global design community.

“I was blown away by the quality of the content,” shared Hobbs. “In hearing how people are using design, research and collaboration to solve problems, my brain kept coming back to the similarities and parallels between design and music.”  


Hobbs explained how a few case studies, but not many surprisingly enough, highlighted the role of audio within service prototyping - including one example in which a design team piped in background noise to simulate real airport environments when developing a service prototype for new way-finding and signage for Southwest Airlines.  

Music and Design share so many common threads:

  • Service Design is construct-driven, similar to musical constructs.

  • Great design must be steeped in real insights drawn from generative research, similar to how great audio and music are driven by human stories and emotions.

  • Both are highly collaborative, often tying in improvisation.  

  • Both use the word jam in productive sessions.

  • Audio and Design share some common vernacular, including orchestrate, harmonize, on stage, backstage, and performers.

  • Design and Audio share an emphasis on terrible first drafts - a necesssary step in the iterative creative process to create meaningful output.

  • The culture of the group doing the work has tremendous impact on the results.  Orchestrating musicians to work together is remarkably similar to coordinating and harmonizing an organization to design a remarkable experience.

“Music and audio are too powerful to ignore in designing the world we all want to live in.”  Hobbs explains. He looks forward to applying his learnings from the SGDC to his work at Tunewelders to develop meaningful audio experience that, much like the services stemming from traditional design engagements, have a truly positive impact on people and society.  


Tunewelders partner, Jeremy Gilbertson describes Matt as “the ultimate two-headed monster. He comes from the brand side as a design expert, and he is one hell of a composer. Matt developed his mad scientist musical skills in improv theatre, musicals and through releasing and performing his own records. He is a game-changing addition to the Tunewelders team as we continue our work developing audio strategy and musical identity for major brands”.

Musical Activations Transform Branded Experiences

Every audio experience begins with a simple vibration. Our eardrum acts in similar fashion to the diaphragm of a microphone by vibrating in response to a signal. Then, in the middle of our ear, three bones called the hammer, anvil and stirrup act as an amplifier to that signal as it proceeds to the inner ear landing on one of the most fascinating organs in the human body. The basilar membrane acts as a biological patch bay organizing these vibrations by frequency onto one of 30,000 pathways for their transformation into information the brain can understand. With this information, we process an experience of the reality around us.

During this roughly 7 millisecond trip from ear to brain, these vibrations from our environment are converted into emotional elements of our consciousness. How do these vibrations have such a profound effect on the experiences surrounding them? We are collections of vibrations from our heartbeats, cellular activity and the inner workings of the subatomic realm that is the foundation of our existence. We are built upon a series of rhythmic instances and interactions. We feel the power of connected rhythm as we clap along with thousands of people during our favorite band's performance. We experience the communitas of the collective whole as the bass drop lands in our chests sending us into a spirited frenzy carefully orchestrated by a DJ in a small club. The timbre and melodies rising from a string ensemble complement the visible frequencies in the colors of a cinematic landscape and in the hearts of the characters of the story. Immersed in digital realities generated by groundbreaking technology, authentic audio environments lend believability to a meticulously crafted visual experience.

Audio is the biological and neurological language for the human experience.

Whether you are a brand, artist, screenwriter or game developer, authentic live activations are quickly becoming an innovative approach to connect with your target audience. While the results can seem less tangible, these curated events can build trust in a way that traditional advertising cannot. These experiences can be transformational moments for attendees who are quick to capture it and spread the word through their social networks. Many of these activations include live music or intentional audio.


Here are a few interesting examples:

The ARC of the Composition - Deloitte Digital and Dave & Gabe built an interactive experience that gave five non-musicians the ability to collaborate to create music together.

ARC Installation at SXSW -

Sleeping with Max Richter & Beautyrest - Beautyrest partnered with composer Max Richter who performed his 8 hour opus, Sleep for 150 people resting easily on Beautyrest mattresses carefully arranged on stage around the ensemble at the Bass Concert Hall.

More on this activation -

Welcome to Westworld - HBO created a version of the 1800s town of Sweetwater in an undisclosed location outside of Austin, TX. Upon arrival, the Hosts take you through a personality assessment to determine the nature of your character. From there, your adventure begins through saloons and a horse-filled town center immersed with the law abiding and the lawless.

More on this activation -

These carefully crafted audio environments turned non-musical participants into songwriters, delivered a one-of-a-kind VIP sleeping experience, and brought a dose of realism to an otherworldly event. One simple vibration can lead to a groundbreaking interaction and deeply meaningful connections. What could an innovative and intentional approach to audio bring to your project?

Tunewelders Brings Musical Experience to Austin


By Thomas Avery

When you move to Austin, TX, you quickly learn to prepare yourself for the SXSW circus when it rolls into town. You won’t see any dancing bears or human cannonballs (well, you might).. mostly just hordes of lanyard-strapped culture pilgrims buying out your favorite taco trucks before 9am. That being said, I was thoroughly stoked for my first SXSW experience, even if I couldn’t afford the ungodly price tag for one of those coveted badges. In a city that desperately tries to “keep it weird,” a party with that kind of gravitational pull sucks everyone here into it, whether you want to go or not.

The most striking thing about this event is that there is truly no singular description. It is a crunchy music festival, sprinkled on top of an eye-watering film festival, all wrapped up into a technology-baked tortilla. (Yes, I just made SXSW into a taco analogy, couldn’t help it.) And while the planners and coordinators of this madness try to make a distinct separation, you can’t help but feel like it’s all intermingled and truly part of one overarching effort. What is its grand theme? Human connection.


I think it’s safe to say that the SXSW festival-conference, more than anything I’ve experienced on such a large scale, exhibits purely and without irony the noble purpose of bringing people together through art and creativity. Anyone who puts in the energy to make something is celebrated and encouraged to share it, and welcomed into the larger community. I went into the week with two scheduled shows playing keys for BR Lively, but after our first show, three more got added to the schedule. Ultimately these shows led to an invitation to Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion, by far the best day for local musicians and fans who need a break from all their city’s guests. At the secluded ranch an hour out of town, we bounced from Son Little to Preservation Hall Jazz Band to Nathaniel Rateliff to the Band of Heathens with Margo Price, who played in a tiny church for about 40 people. Finally, after Willie Nelson and Family closed out the night and we were getting ready to leave, we were suddenly whisked away to Willie’s favorite dive bar down the road to attend the artist afterparty. My head was spinning when I finally made it home early that morning, trying to work out how this all could have happened in one day.

Throughout the week-and-a-half that the show was in town, the overwhelming sentiment was that the people putting on these shows sincerely wanted me to be there, to share in the experience they had created and the message they hoped to spread through their work. And this attitude got me thinking more broadly about the cultural atmosphere we are all trying to navigate these days. It’s easy and common to say that the maturing population - the Millenials and the younger generations that follow - lacks a sense of true connection with other people. I get it … from the outside it looks like we worship our phones and trade the limited world around us for the apparently infinite world of the internet. I will be the first to agree that we’ve developed somewhat of a social impairment due to the communication barrier we’ve constructed out of our devices and gadgets that inhibit physical, face-to-face human interaction. But if the size, scope, and general frenzy caused by SXSW illustrates anything, it’s our desperate need and desire to connect.

If SXSW is a fireworks show of the human connection experiment, Tunewelders is a daily dose. Years ago, when I began working with Ben and Jeremy back at 800 East Studios in Atlanta, I noticed something special in the water. The more projects we worked on, the more conversations we had about the why, not just the how. We discovered that we were all seeking human connection through our music. This passion, to make something with a purpose, is the why behind Tunewelders. The proven production team is the how. I am bringing this model to Austin, and I’m eager not only to make more great music, but to grow the human experience through Tunewelders.

Music Is - Episode 2

The journey continues with Aaron and Nancy Hill from Greenhouse Atlanta.

Aaron and Nancy.jpg

This is a story about an electrician-philosopher-bass player connecting with a pop star, whose music brought Perry Farrell to expletives. Together they foster a musical experience that is far greater than the sum of its parts. Aaron met Nancy in Los Angeles through a collaborative arts project called The Law Band. A mutual respect for each other's creativity grew into further collaborations and a livelong partnership that goes deeper than music.

Our conversation spans philosophy, mindfulness, sources of inspiration, building things from nothing, and the art of sound. Aaron is a sonic architect and a collage artist whose awareness leads to the most amazing happy accidents. Nancy's trip across the country with a Kay guitar and her songs led to her eventual deal as a recording artist for Island Records. She brings her vocal prowess and songwriting sensibilities to her own music and artists she and Aaron produce at Greenhouse Atlanta.

Greenhouse Drums.jpg

How did a field of wheatgrass bring a studio to life? What secrets lie deep within a Hill console? What do garden hoses and Sun Studios have in common? What was it like stalking Hunter S. Thompson? How did Buckminster Fuller influence studio design? What does an orchard have to do with music production? 



For more on Greenhouse Atlanta:

This podcast is brought to you by Tunewelders, Tunewell Music and Daniel Patrick Murphy.

Hosted and Produced by Jeremy Gilbertson

Engineered by Ben Holst 

Music featured on this podcast:

Tronto Y Mono, Cymatic - Aaron and Nancy Hill

King of the World, Those Eyes, The Safe -  Rosey

Cold Kitchen Blues - Hill Roberts (Tunewell Music)

Diamonds, Pearls and Rubies - Trappers Cabin (Tunewell Music)

Dreams of You - Lal Meri

Life on Earth (theme song) Jason Shannon

New Podcast From Tunewelders - Music Is

I am psyched to announce our latest adventure into the world of podcasting.  

Music Is ... is a podcast series aimed to define music from various perspectives.

Music is the ultimate feedback loop. Listeners and creators can participate together by expressing gratitude for what was, mold it into what is, and ponder what it will be. I wanted to connect with our creative community in a meaningful way by having insightful conversations with some of its most thoughtful creators. My hopes for this project are to demystify music for content creators, discuss sources of inspiration, break down the creative process and, ultimately, define music from each of their perspectives.


Our latest episode is a conversation with artist, Joel Nettesheim of Trappers Cabin.

What do John Denver, Alan Watts and a tennis racket have in common?

Listen here to find out: 

Tune In: Tunewell Welcomes New Artists

Spencer Pope

Spencer Pope

Packway Handle Band

Packway Handle Band

Last month we launched Tunewell Music (, our boutique, 100% pre-cleared music library for commercial sync licensing. This month we've added some awesome music to the catalog, including two favorite Atlanta-based acts Spencer Pope and the Packway Handle Band.

Spencer Pope is one of Atlanta’s most prolific and thoughtful keyboardists. He has that rare ability to march boldly into the outer fringe. Spencer’s instrumental tracks, which are centered around the Wurlitzer Electric and Acoustic Grand Pianos are playful, adventurous and curious. His compositions underscore a wide spectrum of complex human experience.  

Check out music examples of Spencer Pope by clicking HERE

Packway Handle Band is a five piece roots-grass, trad-absurdist, punk-folk experience. Rich instrumentation and tight vocal arrangements with lush blended harmonies paint a picture of Americana, but with a chip on its shoulder.  

Check out music examples of Packway Handle Band by clicking HERE

New Work: Staybridge Suites is "Hugely Different"

This month Tunewelders teamed up with Blue Sky Agency to bring everyday luggage to life in a lighthearted Staybridge Suites campaign called Hugely Different. Utilizing a team of top Atlanta voice talents, improvised foley, and subtle sound design, we highlight the strength of the Staybridge Suites brand from the amusing and witty perspective of luggage.

What the heck is MOS (Motor Only Sync)?  I'm glad you asked.

Motor Only Sync is filmmaking jargon and it simply means that the scene or scenes were shot without location sound. It is a method used to maximize time and budget on set, and it was used here because all of the audio elements were to be created in post-production.   

The voiceover work was a lot of fun because of the opportunity to create comedic timings of the personified luggage. For example, in the ad This is How We Roll, both the spinning and dropping of the roller bag was brought to life by a great performance from actor/comedian and Blue Sky Agency Senior Vice President Mike Schatz. 

Special foley credits go to Blue Sky Agency Account Manager Megan Niager for capturing some wonderful multi-location iPhone recordings of the hero roller bag which I was able to integrate in post. Additional Foley from Associate Creative Director Christian Herrity for his precise break room dishware Foley on Free Hot Breakfast.

Mike Schatz, Senior Vice President at Blue Sky Agency, talked about his team’s approach:

“Everyone can connect with the suitcase - whether it’s a symbol of vacation, or work, or something in between… shifting away from generic shots of people lets us be more human. The observational humor works harder and allows the bags to do the talking.”

Our Take: Virtual Reality at SIGGRAPH 2017


Last month, I headed out to Los Angeles to attend SIGGRAPH (Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques), an annual conference attended by tens of thousands of computer graphics and interactive innovators, thinkers and professionals from around the globe. This was an excellent opportunity to explore the latest trends in augmented and virtual reality and the innovations in immersive music and audio.

After participating in two days of hands-on demos and discussions with industry experts, it was clear that some of the greatest opportunities for improvement in terms of creating rich virtual reality experiences are in two key areas.  First, haptic (or "touch") feedback.  Look for innovations in wearables and smart textiles in the coming years to meet this demand.  Second, immersive audio, which includes ambisonics, binaural audio, 3D spatialization, etc.  Although the technology is available, it was pretty clear that the VR industry needs more qualified audio and music experts to embrace the latest technology.  In many cases it seemed that truly mind-blowing visual experiences were being matched up with inappropriately sized sonic environments and subpar audio mixes. I could find very few examples of applications that took advantage of fully immersive music.  

There is a significant opportunity for creative and technical achievement for both audio and music in the virtual reality sector, which is the reason that Tunewelders has fully committed to investments in this area. Look for some really exciting news to be announced in the next few weeks about this.


If you are you interested in virtual reality or immersive music and audio and want to experience it first hand, we'd like to offer you that opportunity. Please make an appointment to come by our studio for a demo.    

The Huge Sound of Ice Cream

PHOTO CREDIT:  Baskin-Robbins

by Nate Lewin

February 19, 2015

For most of us, the memory of getting ice cream as a child is almost universal. We all remember that exhilarating moment of seeing all of those colorful flavors behind the counter, selecting the perfect one, and having it expertly scooped and served to order. If you’ve ever been inside of a Baskin-Robbins, these sights, smells, tastes and sounds are all part of that wonderful memory.  But if you had to describe that sensational experience, could you do it?  How would it look?  How would it sound?

This past year, the team at Baskin-Robbins and 22squared were successful in doing just that with an award-winning series of 15-second ads that captured the sensations BR ice cream.  This TV ad campaign was awarded Brand of the Year (2014) in the category of Quick-Service Restaurants by Ace Metrix.  

But it is not visuals alone that capture a moment; sound is a critical aspect of an experience. That is why Baskin-Robbins and 22squared teamed up with Tunewelders to help get the job done.

Executive Producer, Jeremy Gilbertson had this to say: “We love working with the Baskin-Robbins and 22squared teams. They have an amazing balance of vision, creativity and precision in their execution.”

The 22squared team included group Creative Director Curt Mueller and veteran Producer, Rhett Kearsley.  Their team set the creative tone by asking Tunewelders to capture a heightened sense of sound by channelling their inner Spiderman and his “spidey-senses”. Tunewelders’ Ben Holst recalls, “Ice cream, on it’s own, makes little if any noise. That was the challenge. Fun, fresh and exciting without being cartoony. The film, Honey I Shrunk the Kids was referenced a time or two in the direction. Bigger than life.

The Tunewelders team pulled together unique audio concepts into a composition that takes the audiences ears on a journey from the scoop, to the pour, and finally to the blend. Sound design is just like music composition for Tunewelders, where each sound has to fit together and make sense. Every sound is a song in and of itself; it must be in tune and have natural transitions.

Overall, it is safe to say that 22squared succeeded in its mission to get thousands of people all over the country to leave their homes for ice cream. Congratulations to Curt Mueller, Rhett Kearsley and the teams at Baskin-Robbins and 22squared!

Check out one of the BR spots here:

Good Artists Borrow.  Great Artists Steal.  Others Just Litigate.

by Jason Todd Shannon


Shakespeare used scenes and plot lines that were taken directly from other plays. Picasso based paintings on specific African sculptures and called them his own. If you compare the opening theme to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 “Eroica”, you will hear frightening similarities to the overture from Mozart’s “Bastien and Bastienne”. It is in creativity’s very nature to take existing ideas and re-shape them into something of our own. That is freedom of expression. That is art.

In the Baroque and Classical eras, it was generally considered an honor paid to quote the music of another composer. Folk music around the world is happily passed from generation to generation where it is allowed to evolve and flourish, made into something new, and passed again on to the next generation. Music is based on the wonderful tradition of becoming inspired by the great works that came before, immersing yourself in the extant collections of chords and melodies and rhythmic figures that inspire, and reinventing them with a new voice. This freedom of expression is the thing that is transcendent about music. Or at least, it used to be. Now you have to be really careful what inspires you, because you might get charged with copyright infringement or stealing intellectual property.  

This week the social media universe has been ablaze with articles about Tom Petty and his settlement with musician Sam Smith. Petty and Producer Jeff Lynne claim “similarities” between the Smith title “Stay With Me” and Petty’s 1989 hit “I Won’t Back Down”. Smith voluntarily agreed to award Lynne and Petty songwriting credits and royalties for a song that the elder statesmen had no participation in. Most of the published stories reference Petty’s colloquial “everyman” response to the settlement dealings in which he declared he had no “hard feelings” towards Smith and that “the word lawsuit was never even said.” Avoiding the legal-ese was a good move on Petty’s part, because it camouflages him from the nasty business that it actually is, which is laying claim to intellectual property rights on commonly used musical forms.

I find even the intimation of a copyright infringement absurd in this case, for the reasons that there is no real musical or lyrical structure that can be linked between the two songs, and any similarities that do exist between the songs should be considered common musical devices. 

Let’s look closely at the differences:

First, let’s look at the key signature. These are not in the same key signature. Stay With Me is in C Major. I Won’t Back Down is in G Major.

Next, let’s look at the chord progression. I’ve read a lot of analysis online which says the chord progressions are the same. Sorry, folks - they are not. They are much different, and for the purposes of this analysis, I’ll compare only the relevant sections of each.  Here is how they each breakdown: Stay With Me has a basic figure of Am, F, C occasionally hitting a Ab dim chord as an approach to the Am chord on the turnaround. This is a m6-4-1 chord progression. The relevant figure in I Won’t Back Down is different. The basic figure here is Em, D, G. This is a m6-5-1 progression. Are these similar? Sure they are. But “similar” is not “the same.” Chord progressions are not unique in popular music, and they are not and never should be considered intellectual property nor be subject to the purview of the legal system. They are the most fundamental forms of songwriting, and the means by which Petty himself borrowed from Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and scores of other influences that came before him – none of whom lay intellectual property claim to what was old hat when Johann Sebastian Bach was using them 300 years ago.

Next, let’s examine the time signature and rhythmic feel. Both tunes are in 4/4, but the rhythmic figures of each are vastly different. Stay With Me has a slower ¼ note feel and the chord movement happens on 1, 3 and the “and” of 4 which gives it more of an anticipated rhythmic pulse. I Won’t Back Down is a more straight ahead 16th note feel with chord movement happening on the downbeat, with a much more straightforward pulse. These yield completely different musical results which represent the backbone of their respective songs.

The tempo of the two songs is very different.  Stay with me is 86 BPM (beats per minute) while I Won’t Back Down has a tempo of approximately 118 BPM.

Of each of the musical components analyzed, I find the melody in both of these tunes the most closely related, but again, they are not the same. If we strip out the flourishes and phrasing (which are entirely different), the basic framework of the melody in Stay With Me is root (over m6 chord) to 9 (over 4 chord) to major 3rd (over root chord). I Won’t Back Down is root (over m6 chord) to root (over 5 chord) to major 3rd (over root chord). Generally, the melody has a similar movement but is working against different chords with a different rhythmic pulse. Yes, there are similarities, but I would absolutely not say they were the same, and different enough where it would be hard to even conclude that one is derivative from the other.

Lyrically there is no comparison between the two songs.

Finally, I have to point out the vast differences in the overall feel and atmosphere of these songs. Stay With Me has a more somber feel with a clear gospel influence. The prevalent instrumentation is piano and vocals with a strong choral section. I Won’t Back Down is more upbeat, with strong electric/slide guitars and traditional pop/rock harmonies, guitar solos, etc.

The popularity of Petty’s song is what allows for this discussion to even happen; if a little-known songwriter made the same claim, even with much better evidence, it’s unlikely that writing credit would have been given because Smith’s claim that he never heard the song is much more believable to the general public. Does this result in a too- subjective legal standard that disproportionately rewards the already well-rewarded?

So, with all of these differences in musical structure and even musical intent, why is it that Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne should receive royalties and songwriting credit for something they had nothing to do with? I really have no idea. But if the legal system is allowed to become a tool by which popular artists lay intellectual property claim to common musical devices, the next generations of songwriters won’t have much to work with.

Tunewelders Writes & Produces Music for Dad's Garage Premier "King of Pops"

KING OF POPS: A POST APOCALYPTIC MUSICAL!  January 22, 2015  This week at Tunewelders we’ve been humming songs about popsicles and the American Dream.  That is because we’ve been hard at work with our friends from Dad’s Garage Theater and ensemble member Mike Schatz on the upcoming world premiere,  King of Pops: A Post Apocalyptic Musical! , which opens April 24th 2015 at 7 Stages Theater in Atlanta’s Little 5 Points. As we follow the fictional journey of one of Atlanta’s favorite iconic figures, the King of Pops - into a dark world of death, destruction and delicious popsicles, the original musical numbers for the show will offer a unique mix of Americana Folk and Broadway Orchestration.  Joining Schatz in production of the musical are Tunewelder’s Ben Holst (musical co-writer and Producer) and Jason Shannon (Arranging & Orchestration). 

January 22, 2015
This week at Tunewelders we’ve been humming songs about popsicles and the American Dream.  That is because we’ve been hard at work with our friends from Dad’s Garage Theater and ensemble member Mike Schatz on the upcoming world premiere, King of Pops: A Post Apocalyptic Musical!, which opens April 24th 2015 at 7 Stages Theater in Atlanta’s Little 5 Points. As we follow the fictional journey of one of Atlanta’s favorite iconic figures, the King of Pops - into a dark world of death, destruction and delicious popsicles, the original musical numbers for the show will offer a unique mix of Americana Folk and Broadway Orchestration.  Joining Schatz in production of the musical are Tunewelder’s Ben Holst (musical co-writer and Producer) and Jason Shannon (Arranging & Orchestration). 

Music At The Speed of Light!

Music At The Speed Of Light!

Finally musicians in different locations can perform together real-time!

This is an original song called “Down the Columbia” premiered on the LOLA low-latency audio/video conferencing system. The performers were at two locations and separated by approximately 50 miles. The latency between the performers in this video is less than 10 milliseconds, equal to the speed of sound at 10 feet apart. This 10ms delay is imperceptible to the ear and provides a completely natural musical experience for the performers. This is made possible by sending an uncompressed audio and video signal across a high-speed (1 Gbps) fiber optic network. In other words, speeding up the speed of sound (1 foot per millisecond) to the speed of light (186 miles per millisecond).

Special thanks to all of the great folks from North Georgia Networks and Habersham Electric Membership Cooperative who made this video possible. Without their expertise in creating an amazing broadband network this technology would not be possible. Special thanks to Tony Adams, Curt Arulf, Jonathan Cantrell, Todd Pealock, Rodney Pugh, Greg Sprayberry and the entire staff at HEMC.

Tyson Farmer = Acoustic Guitar (6-String)
Jeremy Gilbertson = Acoustic Guitar (12-String)
Ben Holst = Resonator Guitar
Franher Joseph = Upright Bass
Jason Shannon = Mandolin
Vic Stafford = Glockenspiel