You’ve opened the carefully crafted packaging of your Damson product and it’s sitting in your hands, waiting to be used.
The anticipation is real.
But which piece of music is suitably epic to be chosen as your first listen?
This is a question we’ve thought long and hard about, and our best answer is…
'Dies Irae', or 'Day of Wrath'. A piece of Gregorian Chant composed at some point between 1100 and 1290 AD.
Why on earth would I want to listen to that, you ask?
Just bear with us, because as you’ll see this bad boy is used in the most epic tunes of all time from the end of humanity to the destruction of the Death Star, some monks a thousand years ago knew the score.
Why is this piece of music so epic?
It is so old that no one knows exactly who composed it.
It's nearly a thousand years old, maybe older, and it's still going strong.
It has never faded away. Since its composition its melody has been used in hundreds of pieces of music, from classical pieces to opera to film scenes to video game scores.
(More on the last two later.)
It describes the day of judgement, when God returns to earth to judge all souls.
This is a picture of that event in progress.
See the epicness?
See the trumpet-playing angels flying around, summoning all living souls for judgement with their melodies?
See the worthy souls ascending to heaven while the unworthy are cast into the pits of eternal damnation by Satan’s minions?
See God surveying the carnage from his throne in the clouds, surrounded by the blessed and the saved?
Imagine what that must sound like.
Its melody pops up time and time again, everywhere. It is prevalent in classical music through the ages, and made its way into the modern era via tons of film and video game scores; including it in your score is something of a rite of passage for film and game composers.
This is the part of the melody in question:
When it is used it often signifies death, hardship, tribulation and other equally epic things.
See a few of the places it’s been used for an indication into just how epic it really is:
- In Holst's symphony for Saturn, the bringer of old age. There’s no arguing when a God-planet brings you old age: you may as well just climb into your coffin there and then.
- In the Faust opera: the operatic rendition of the famous story of someone selling their soul to the devil (i.e. the myth that underpins all of blues and rock music)
- In various other classical pieces with epic themes such as "divine punishment", "dances of death", and "obsession"
- In Mozart’s Requiem Mass. Mozart knew all about epic: his life would have been comparable to members of the 27 club if he’d been alive more recently
- In Sweeney Todd: the story of a maniacal barber who combines a flair for gentlemanly grooming with a penchant for murder
- In the opening theme of The Shining: one of the most famous and harrowing horror films ever
- In Final Fantasy IX: a title considered by many to be the best game from the best game series ever
- In Lord of the Rings, many times: epic films telling the epic story of the battle of good over pure evil in Middle Earth
- In The Matrix: the story of humanity’s oppression, struggle, and later victory of machinery that wants to enslave us in a virtual reality.
- In STAR WARS: the most epic film series ever, which needs no introduction.
Note: in all of these films, it's at an epic and emotionally wrenching scene.
So in short, the Dies Irae riff has no time for anything that isn't epic.
The words would not be out of place in the rowdiest death metal.
Here are some of the verses of Dies Irae: read them and quake in your boots.
These were originally sung in Latin, too – a language inextricably linked to epic things:"Day of wrath and doom impending.David's word with Sibyl's blending,Heaven and earth in ashes ending.Death is struck, and nature quaking,All creation is awaking,To its Judge an answer making.Righteous Judge, for sin's pollutionGrant Thy gift of absolution,Ere the day of retribution."
We wouldn’t be surprised if we read these in the lyrics booklet for the heaviest metal the metal scene has to offer.
All of the people Dies Irae is attributed to led epic lives.
As we mentioned, the piece is so old that scholars aren’t exactly sure who composed it.
The strongest candidates for composing are Thomas of Celano and Latino Malabranca Orsini. Thomas was personal friends with and partial biographer of Saint Francis of Assisi - "one of the most venerated religious figures in history" – and Latino was the nephew of a Pope and was briefly kidnapped while the next pope was being decided.
The less likely possibilities for composing the piece were Pope Gregory I, St Bernard of Clairvaux, and St Bonaventure. As well as the intrinsic epicness of being a pope, Gregory implemented a policy of Papal supremacy which gave him "full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered". Not someone to mess with, then.
St Bernard of Clairvaux is still revered today and his symbol is a Devil on a chain, presumably to symbolise his power. St Bonaventure meanwhile holds the humble accolade of being regarded as “one of the greatest philosophers of the middle ages”.
Dies Irae has been used in hundreds of other compositions throughout history.
The answer to our original question, then –
what is the most epic possible thing to listen to on your new Damson product?
Damson aren’t in the market to be another creator of generic technology.
Our products are designed to push - and transcend - boundaries in style and design. Innovation is the very heart of what we do.
In the run-up to the launch of our groundbreaking new S-Series, our founder James Talbot shares his thoughts on design and the Damson Audio development process.
“Inspiration from unexpected places”
Looking beyond the usual influences leads to powerful and compelling design.
“I spend a lot of time in airports, and the details and considerations in their design provides a surprising amount of inspiration.
Hong Kong airport, for example, creates a feeling of clean design and space without being overwhelming. And for me, a design’s ability to not feel dated after twenty years is the ultimate test.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia
A product’s DNA is vital, too. Look at the way car designs evolve: quite often there are only subtle upgrades to a design between iterations, but over a longer period you really notice the difference - the BMW 3 Series is a perfect example.
These considerations all factor into the design of Damson products: timelessness, subtlety balanced with striking design, boldness without overwhelm”.
“Form or function? Both.”
Compromising on either is restrictive.
“This question risks confining design to boxes. Think of Baroque and Brutalist design: one focuses on form, the other on function; why not both?
I believe both are important. Going back to Hong Kong airport: the elegant design is able to withstand the most powerful typhoons - a perfect example of how form and function are inextricable.
Pursuing elegant form and high quality functionality ensures Damson products stand above others. I believe that you can build anything you want and it could be the greatest device ever, but if it’s fugly then consumers won’t buy it.
“The novel: the norm”
Seeking different paths lets us carve out our own.
“Bone conduction technology is seen by some as a novelty. Virtual reality has, over the past 20 years, moved from novelty to commonplace. Damson are carving out their own place in this process by choosing the right technology for the job, not the one that’s in fashion.
Any new technology can be approached with suspicion or with excitement. In the early 90s at the Trocadero Centre in London I wasted too much time and money playing the VR game they had there - my attraction to this novel technology demonstrates how compelling it is, and explains why I pursued it.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia
“Question assumptions; redefine what’s acceptable”
Refusing to place other people’s restrictions on your design forces individuality.
“Design breeds complacency. During the development of the S Series we were told that ‘sound bars are that size for a reason’ and that we would have to design our product within these arbitrary boundaries, which was not acceptable.
Overcoming these hurdles - and redefining what is acceptable - is an integral part of our design process. There are many iterations in the process, starting with a rough sketch and gradually becoming more sophisticated, but each is an equally important on the path to a finished product”
You can be involved with the next step in Damson’s innovative and inspired history: just click here for more information.
It's time for the arrival of another great product. It's time for the launch of our S-Series crowdfunding campaign.
The S-Series consists of the S-Bar and S-Woofer Home Cinema Hub and the S-Cube, a portable speaker that can network into the Home Cinema system to create a surround sound system. The S-Cube can also work independently anywhere you need it, providing rich, powerful sound. All connected with out the fussiness of a phone app or an exterior amp.
There's a huge sense of achievement when a great product moves from a dream to reality. For as long as we have existed we have shared our dreams with you. A successful crowdfunding campaign not only demonstrates that people believe in what you're doing, but also that they're happy to invest their money and confidence in your success.
In July 2014. 1170 people believed in our Headbones to the tune of $126,294.
In November 2015, 808 people believed in our AuraVisor to the tune of $223,245.
Both of these products now exist in the real word and both have pushed the boundaries of what is possible with current technologies. 1978 people who decided to believe in us are directly responsible for this.
In September 2016 we will push boundaries with the S-Series too.
Its design challenges the assumptions of what a sound system should be, and delivers a groundbreaking experience.
The S-Series will:
- Break the perceived link between sound quality and size by demonstrating that a small system can deliver high quality sound.
- Shift the paradigm on sound system processing: housing the processor in the sub means contributes to the previous point of reducing size while retaining sound quality.
- Set new benchmarks for sound system design: gone are the ugly rectangular black boxes that usually house sub-woofers.
- Liberate the user by offering them multiple ways to use the product. Whether by programming it itno the TV remote, connecting via Bluetooth, or switching one portable speaker to Single Mode and removing it from the system for external use, there is more flexibility than you would expect from a sound system.
How the S-Series came to be.
The underlying fundamentals for the S-Series are sound, size and simplicity: we wanted to improve sound, reduce size and increase simplicity.
The S-Series' dedicated team of industrial and mechanical engineers made the decisions that realised these fundamentals. They chose components and customised our drivers to enable them to deliver sound quality usually associated with bigger systems, and designed a product that leads the way in design rather than imitating others.
We're proud of what we've created.
We're confident you'll love how it fits into your life.
And we'd love to invite you to get involved.
We’ve had VR on our minds recently, what with our AuraVisor shipping recently.
When you put the visor on, the opportunities for awesomeness are immediately obvious. The rush of excitement when you first enter virtual reality gives way to another wave when you think about the amazing apps people will build as the technology becomes more widespread.
Here are some we’d like to see.
1. The Virtual Hotel Rooms App
The first couple of ideas were largely inspired by memories of lying in a small damp tent at a festival, and trying to see the potential in that bleak situation.
Imagine if you could whack on your VR headset before you get into your tent and trick yourself into thinking you’re crawling into a cosy nest. Or a cave with a big fire lit inside? Or an igloo?
We imagine this being sort of like the ARI (Added Reality Interface) in Heavy Rain, but with a more specific purpose.
Courtesy: Sony Interactive Entertainment
This technology has applications outside festivals too (obviously). Imagine testing new interior design styles in your house? Or taking tours of the world’s most famous sites from your living room.
2. The Backstage Pass App
We always wondered what artists get up to backstage - the mind runs wild when you try to imagine. Are they doing yoga back there? Are they nervous, or just kicking back with a beer? Or just munching through tubs of vanilla ice cream (according to rumour, Snoop demands access a full freezer of vanilla ice at each show).
This would be a really cool feature to offer to VIPs at a festival: it’s not quite the same as meeting your favourite band backstage, but seeing them preparing for their set in real-time is quite special.
Maybe they should be allowed a small private area though, to indulge in any pre-show ‘activities’ that demand privacy.
3. The On Stage Mayhem App
The logical next step: how about being on the stage?
This could see the band wearing 360° cameras on their heads, and you choose which one you want to be. Or there could be a camera on a plinth in the middle of the stage offering a fixed view – even more epic.
However it’s done, we’d have to be careful to avoid an Inception scenario where you can see yourself in the crowd from the stage, because who knows what would happen in that situation? Our guess - based on science fiction films - is that some sort of paradox would unfold and you’d cease to exist. A bit of a downer during a festival.
4. The First Class Simulator App
Sitting in the stuffed and stuffy train carriage home inspired this one.
Imagine if you could augment your train ride with virtual reality, and ride the world famous Orient Express back from Reading.
This thing gets turned into a car when viewed through VR headset, so seats and tables could easily be used as anchor points.
Where would you rather be?
Here: Or Here:
Image Courtesy: IMA/Jerome Galland
You could also use this on sardine-can flights to pretend you’re flying a chartered private jet. Although the megaphone-wielding flight attendants will still be able to shatter the illusion by yelling in your face to buy a scratch card (or a drink, watch, sandwich, magazine or rental car).
5. The "Livestreaming Someone Else’s Life" - App
We’re going to call it now: a VR equivalent of Periscope will be built that allows people to live stream their life with a 360° GoPro-esque camera. People will be able to tune in and out as they please.
There may even be a Chat Roulette thing going on where you drop into a random broadcast. Who knows what we’ll see!
Think ‘Being John Malkovich’ but instead of John Malkovich you’re dropped into Greg from Grimsby.
Image Courtesy: Stephen Richards
Find out what truly untethered VR is like with our AuraVisor
This year’s cohort of first year university students – or Freshers, as they’re more often known - were born between September 1 1997 and August 31st 1998*
Read that again: they were born in 1997 or 1998.
People who were born two years before the new millennium are now going to university. To train to become the next generation of lawyers, doctors, and leisure centre managers.
To mourn this sobering fact (or celebrate, depending on your viewpoint) we’ve collated a playlist of all the number 1 singles from September each year since 1997. It is the ultimate Fresher’s week playlist.
Not only will our banging playlist be the backdrop to some huge parties and pre-drinks; it will give the soon-to-be Fresher’s their first experience of crushing nostalgia, and it will track the development of pop music over the past 19 years.
Three birds, one cheesy pop music stone.
You can expect to hear Will Smith, Robbie Williams, The Vengaboys, Atomic Kitten, Olly Murs, Taio Cruz, Little Mix, Justin Bieber, Lou Bega, All Saints, Elton John, and about fifty more pop music heavies.
GET 1997: HERE
* Assuming they went straight to uni without a gap year
Featured Image courtesy of Keith Laverack, Flickr ®