September 16, 2016

To FX or Not FX, That Is The Question

When Does An Electronic Effect Make Sense

Have you noticed in some popular sitcoms that a non-musical effect, like a bell tree run, is used as a transition? Maybe that effect (FX) is followed by a musical stinger? Perhaps the Director of a show you work on has asked you to add a little sizzle to the production?

CSS Music’s 6-disc library E-EFX has you covered when you need FX. Each track usually contains multiple versions of each effect giving you a choice in style and length. And we’ve attempted to make each disc style specific for your needs. For example, the original disc one of E-EFX is a potpourri of effects with some fun cartoon elements. Disc II is more “whooshes and zaps” while E-EFX III provides light swooshes and sparkles. Disc IV introduces some Alternative Rock thinking while Discs V and VI are your solid workaday FX.

The big question is: Will an electronic effect work? The nebulous answer: “It depends.” If you’ve been working on a show that’s been on the air for years, will introducing new sounds freak out your audience? Or will adding a light swoosh to a wipe transition elevate and advance the production value?

While it’s impossible to hook your audience up to people preference meters, you CAN get consensus by asking people in your office as well as friends and family for their feedback. They may not even notice you’ve used something new or they might say, ”What’s that?” Focus group testing of this nature will probably provide the answer.

Of course, the show’s original creator may be the final arbiter. At CSS Music we always say, “The boss is always right.” ;-)

September 10, 2016

Watching The Babies Grow Up

Our Composers Rise To All Challenges

When CSS Music first opened its doors in 1982, the primary musical genre that put us on the map was corporate-industrial. Of course this included different moods, orchestrations and tempi from this school of music. We also offered occasional humorous, World, specialty, novelty, etc. tracks that gave the library some variety.

Some of our composers have been writing for CSS Music nearly 30 years. Their music has always been engaging and served our library well. But as the saying goes, “Things change.” As the 1980’s faded away and Alternative, Grunge, Hip Hop and Electronica (to name a few) came onto the music scene, these new genres of music created new musical challenges for composers.

Factor in the demands of learning how to effectively use new MIDI machinery along with learning computer-based programming plus mastering (pun intended) home recording/engineering, and the composer’s world was suddenly upside down.

Luckily, our guys and gals are pretty sharp people and they adapted to the changes with ease. Before long, CSS Music offered a whole new sound thanks to the advent of very realistic-sounding samples and more powerful computers. And the composers continued to turn out well-crafted music that embraced the new musical styles of the 90’s.

But alas, along came the 2000’s with a plethora of new music styles that meant new challenges. Where live players were still being used throughout the 90’s, music software engineers were now creating “modeled” instruments that were virtually indistinguishable from the real thing. We again tested our composer’s mettle. Could they once again step up to the plate and tackle the increasingly popular variety of Indie music styles? Could they trick the ear into believing they were hearing a real instrument? How about dealing with the evolution of film music? Not to mention the craft of learning to properly write music cues?

You make that call. We’re pretty darn proud of the job we’ve done acclimating to the ever changing music scene and the new music genres you guys request. And hats off to the CSS Music composers, who for an average of 20+ years, have stayed up with the times and continue to provide excellent music!

August 23, 2016

What's In a Name?

A Look At The History of CSS Music Libraries

Back in the old days--meaning the 1990’s through the early 2,000’s—CSS Music was servicing a clientele known as Corporate A/V. While these folks still exist today, their needs have changed and we’ve bobbed and weaved to meet those needs. You see, back then the corporate A/V person wanted a buy-out royalty-free library with specific criteria—meaning music of a particular genre--AND one that would work with their budgets.

Repro-File Potpourri is the oldest ancestor of CSS Music’s first library, Repro-file.  The music is primarily industrial in nature with a sprinkling of other styles here and there. It served the A/V community responsibly for years and some fine pieces of music can still be found in Repro-File Potpourri.  Now there’s Repro-file Plus offering volume specific genres, PLUS short mini-tunes that relate thematically in addition to the usual :60’s and :30’s.

Then along came PowerTrax ushering in not only the alternate mix, but it also provided multiple 60 and 30 versions of each track. Again, the music was written primarily for the A/V crowd looking for industrial music with more flair and muscle. The PowerTrax library is still alive and kicking although the music has grown into inclusion of the popular genres you guys use today. Also, the more contemporary PowerTrax volumes only deliver a 60/30 versus the original multiple mixes but adds a tag version.

Next came the “I need long cuts” problem with Max Trax. Billed as “Tracks 5:00 or longer,” this (now 52 disc) library was the perfect cure for those scenes that just went on and on. Be watching for some changes to this war horse soon.

Things really soared for CSS Music when David Wurst introduced the A/V world to Super Themes. Marketed as a premium library, David brought the first true film score music to the table. And now, all these years later, Super Themes boasts an amazing 79 (and growing!) discs of some truly outstanding music.

The final full service library introduced into the CSS Music family was Target Trax. This (now) 65-disc library was offered to the A/V community as a budget-friendly product.  Some really great material in this package—much better than the price would indicate.  Owner, Mike Fuller, believes in giving an extra measure whenever possible.  You can hear it.

We’ll cover the specialty libraries in the CSS Music stable in another post. In the meantime, we want you A/V guys to know that we thank you and are still here when you need us! J

August 15, 2016

The Positive Accordion Player

The Funniest Instrument Makes A Comeback

You’ve probably heard the joke, “What do you call an accordion player with a beeper?” Answer, “An optimist.” While that quip may have elicited a laugh 20 years ago, the accordion is now quite hip! With bands like The Lumineers, Mumford and Sons, Counting Crows and a number of Cajun influenced bands strapping on the weighty squeezebox (or less cumbersome concertina,) this keyboard is now all the rage. And CSS Music has music that utilizes this instrument in the best ways possible. For example, a track like “Bayou Backwaters Boil” on Powertrax AV Volume 33 captures the steamy swamp music that you guys always ask for to add heat to your shows. Or get down with “Zydeco Party” on Super Themes Volume 17.

What’s that? You want a polka?!?  No problem. Use our Redi-Trax search system, click on Keywords (or enter “Polka” in the search window) and you’ll discover everything from “The Clarinet Polka” to TexMex flavors to a comical track entitled “Stinky Poo Polka.” Of course if you want the romantic styling of the accordion, there’s “Paris At Night” on Digital Ditties Volume 2 and “Paris Street Song” found on Super Themes Volume 17.

Yes, the accordion has been a much-maligned instrument. But for particular color in certain scenes, there’s nothing like the squeezebox to evoke many moods. And we at CSS Music will proudly parade our inner geekiness to get you guys the music you’ll want for your next show!

August 10, 2016

Exploring The World

What’s The Right Music For Unusual Locales?

While a lot of the music you’re currently using is most likely specific to your show—be it a hot rod car show or an outdoor nature program-- there are times when you may need something more exotic. To underscore a stock shot or photo from a far away land, or when you want to create a tongue-in-cheek send-up using World music to help punctuate a visual joke, CSS Music has a wide selection of music that spans the globe. Be it a Parisian cafĂ©, the plains of Africa, a beer garden in Germany or a street market in Bangladesh, we believe our library of World music will fill your travel itinerary.

Our Super Themes library features four excellent albums with World music from nearly every continent. (We’re not sure what Antarctic music sounds like but we’re working on it.) Just Volume 46 alone covers music from the Mayan ruins to the Australian Outback to The Orient to a Flamenco dance in Spain, then all the way to a Celtic Glenn in Scotland! You will find each of these tracks captures the flavor of the region(s) using authentic instruments native to the music genre. You will also find a selection of traditional World music selections on Digital Ditties as well on most of the other CSS Music libraries.

Need Latin music for your next show? No problem. Besides the various Latin cuts disperse throughout the Super Themes albums of World music, we have entire CDs in our Target Trax, Max Trax and Hot Spots libraries devoted to a variety of Latin styles. Ole! If there’s a region of the world we missed, please let us know and we’ll make every effort to include in one of the CSS Music updates!