October 16, 2017

That’s All, Folk!

What Exactly Is Folk Music Today

When you think of Folk music you might call to mind images of a 1960’s coffee house with a small stage crowded with turtle neck-dressed musicians wailing about the woes of the world. Bands like The Kingston Trio, The New Christy Minstrels, Peter, Paul & Mary or The Seekers were household names and even charted with some hit songs. We at CSS Royalty Free Music have a warm place in our hearts for this simple music genre and we’ll deconstruct the original form and where Folk music is today.

These early groups wrote/performed very simple music, usually comprised of three or four chords and unornamented melodies. The Seekers did begin to break the mold with their very poppy hits like “Georgy Girl,” “I’ll Never Find Another You” and “A World Of Our Own” that introduced catchy melodies and great vocals. Being from Australia may have contributed to their sound…or perhaps they had a visionary A&R person picking their music. Today’s bands like Fleet Foxes, Of Monsters and Men, Mumford & Sons or The Lumineers have evolved the Folk sound by introducing new melodic structure that deliver very singable themes.

Where the original Folk orchestrations used only acoustic guitar and perhaps an upright bass, these new artists are bringing in drums/percussion, mandolins, banjos, accordions, electric bass guitar and other non-folk instruments. And with these additional instruments, the music gurus have decided to deem these bands Indie Pop, Folk Rock or Alt Folk.

CSS Music has a variety of the modern Folk genres. Tunes like “Rolling Home,” (PowerTrax 28) “A Road Trip Quietly” (PowerTrax 33) or “Road Trip Anthem” (PowerTrax 34) will make you want to put on your flannel shirt and funky-cool hat.   If you want the vibe of traditional Folk, something like “Down Home Acoustic,” (Repo-File Plus 42) “Family Reunion” which also has a vocal version, (PowerTrax 37) “Memories We Made,” (Super Themes 37) or for some 1970’s flair, “Box Sliding.” (Back Trax 4) Yes, we fondly salute the Folk pioneers of the 1960s and we know you guys/gals need lots of the newer sounds. Take a tour of our Folk collection by choosing “Folk” from our Keyword Alpha Lists or simply type It in to our Bulid-A-Search. Happy hunting!

October 10, 2017

What Was With The 1970’s?

When Silence Is Golden…and When It’s A Clear Miss

In a previous blog we mentioned the brilliance of The French Connection and Director William Friedkin’s excellent use of sound design to underscore a chase scene. And another film of that era, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation utilized music sparingly to heighten the story’s tension.

But one that could have been seriously enhanced with music was Al Pacino (first starring role) in Panic In Needle Park. This story of a affable heroin junkie had absolutely no music. In fact, there was no composer listed in the opening credits! And quite honestly, with it’s tragic story arc, we at CSS Music believe this movie would have evoked a lot more emotion had they scored it—even sparingly, with music.

Perhaps the problem with Panic in Needle Park may have been in editing. As we noted with The French Connection, the action was quickly edited and the street/train sounds made the tension so palatable you could taste it. The action in Needle Park was edited in a more traditional fashion and without music to literally move the movie along, it sometimes felt like more of a documentary.

Now, we at CSS Music are huge Al Pacino fans and his performance was outstanding. In fact, Francis Ford Coppola was so impressed that he hired Pacino to play the iconic role of Michael Corleone, his next film, in one of the greatest films of all time, The Godfather.

Your mission as a music editor or supervisor is to decide when music should be used and when natural ambiance better serves the scene. We know that editing to a music track makes your work go faster, but maybe take a cue from the 1970s and try creating tension or excitement by using fast edits and let the background sounds be the underscore. Not that we’re suggesting not incorporating the excellent music from the CSS  Royalty Free Music library! Just put the idea in the back of your mind when you need a fresh take on something that was popular in the 70s.

October 03, 2017

Trending The Trends

What’s Hot in Music This Week/Month/Year?

As we’ve previously discussed in this blog, music for AV/Video seems to evolve from  1). What national advertisers have embraced and 2). That music usually is a derivative of current Pop music trends. We here at CSS Royalty Free Music keep our ears tuned to both the radio and television advertising.  But we are also strong proponents of creating music that might be the next new trend, or even better, going back to material from our earlier years to explore vintage sounds.

Think about this: Dubstep music was born out of video games, dance clubs and eventually made its way into action films and television commercials. But where is it today? Sure, you’ll hear elements from the genre—wuba bass, quarter note triplet figures and synthesizer figures. But the ear-bleeding screeches and wild and crazy “drops” are pretty much history.

On the other hand: What we used to consider Funk— James Brown. George Clinton, Kool & The Gang, Prince et al has made a major resurgence thanks to Bruno Mars. Is the music he presents substantially different from that of the iconic Funk Masters? Nope. If anything, the sound pays homage to the genre with the slap bass, syncopated horn licks and surprise pauses. Had Bruno Mars  “Uptown Funk” been played on late 1960s radio, it would have not only fit in perfectly, it would also have been a hit.

Also: There’s Alt Country and Alt Folk, genres that evolved from the Indie musician movement. From artists like Ryan Adams to Old 97’s to Steve Earle to the Avett Brothers to Lucinda Williams, this music has raw emotionality and no-frills production. Yet when you listen to the instrumental sections—which you guys will be most concerned with—the arrangements and orchestrations are still pretty much traditional Country or Bluegrass and could come from nearly any era.

So when you’re trying to freshen up your next show, take a few moments to explore some of the earlier tracks—usually meaning first volumes—from the CSS Music library. We believe you’ll find some gems that may have whiskers but may now be cool enough for prime time. You’ll also find a surfeit of older material in Repo-File Potpourri. There’s even a nice laid back track entitled “Funk” that’s still timeless today!

September 18, 2017

Have Yourself A Merry Little Unspecified Holiday

Holiday Music from the CSS Music Library

Whether it’s Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, etc. you’ll want music to compliment your show or commercial. And your only decision may be, do I want a traditional tune  everyone knows? Or a track that evokes the emotion of that holiday? CSS Music has you covered either way.

Let’s say you’re creating a sequence for your show or a commercial for Memorial Day. Your choices might be “America The Beautiful,” “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” or “Battle Hymn Of The Republic,” all found in our Digital Ditties library. But if you choose “Patriotic” from the CSS Music Keyword Alpha List or type in to our Build-A-Search window, you’ll find pages of Patriotic themes that may better suit your needs. Tracks like “Soldier Salute,” (Super Themes 73) “The Patriot” (Super Themes 33) or “Mission Accomplished” (Super Themes 55) might provide more of the sentiment you seek.

Even Christmas can be emotionalized with some new music that evokes the Holiday. Again, you will find in Digital Ditties classics such as “Silent Night,” “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” and “Deck The Halls” and many others produced with very traditional arrangements. Yet tracks like “Memories Of Christmas,” (Max Trax 6) “Christmas Light Power,” (Powertrax 6) or “Sounds Like Christmas” (Repo-File Potpourri 10) will conjure up the Christmas spirit without relying on the tried and true tunes.

Of course there are unusual Holidays like “National Hangover Day,” Bubble Gum Day,” “Do A Grouch A Favor Day, “Garden Meditation Day” and (our favorite) “No News is Good News Day.” And we at CSS Music can envision tracks that would work appropriately for each one of these quirky days. No matter what may be thrown at you, even “National Video Games Day,” we have the music that will make you feel like it’s your birthday. J

September 12, 2017

Whoosh, Spin, Boom!

Underscoring Your Animation With CSS Royalty Free Music Electronic Effects

You’ve just created the coolest animated graphic bumper ever and you’d like to pump it up with some cool sounds or short music bed. Never fear, CSS Music can have you zooming, sparkling or swooshing like a champ!

We chose to call our electronic effects library E-efx since we felt this moniker differentiated these types of sounds from conventional sound effects. Our first disc E-efx, is somewhat of a potpourri of emulations of conventional sounds, electronic cartoon sounds, a few low pads in addition to a few zaps and shots.  You’ll find there are multiple sounds on each track—we really maxed out the use of time on the old CD format. J

With E-efx II we give you more of the traditional whoosh and zaps while on E-efx III a/k/a Light effects, you’ll find the sparkles, risers, light airy swooshes, etc. And you’ll love the music transitions/endings on tracks 60-99. These short music tracks may provide the perfect companion to underscore your animated bumpers.

On E-efx IV we created what can only be described as Alt Effects. With some truly bizarre names (i.e. Bumstead, Diggy Roll, Trollop) that reflect their unusual sounds, longer soundscape pads plus some very quirky Groovz on tracks 71-99, you’ll undoubtedly find a use for this curious collection.

Our latest additions, E-efx V and VI contain lots of the spins, whooshes, zings, zaps, shocks, etc. that you can mix and match for animated enhancement of your graphics. You’ll enjoy auditioning the wide variety of noises on these two volumes and matching them to your project.

So whether you need a simple sparkling glissando or a hard-hitting THAWK, CSS Music’s E-efx library has you covered. And with the current trend using very short music cues, be sure to check out the collection of short beds and Groovz (on E-efx II, III and IV) you’ll find on the last 30-40 tracks of each disc.  We believe you’ll find them super useful--and they’re offered in a wide selection of styles and tempi!

September 08, 2017

Be A Sport

Using CSS Royalty Free Music For Less Well Known/Unusual Sports

You may run into situations where you face underscoring a scene for golf, cliff diving, cricket, bowling, jai alai, synchronized swimming or other less known sports. There’s no arguing that finding music for football, baseball, basketball, track or auto racing is fairly easy in the CSS Music library. But what if you find you’re searching for music to compliment a polo match or an equestrian contest?

We believe that you first need to assess the mood you’re attempting to create. Will you be using multiple cuts with close-up of horse hooves, polo mallets striking the ball and riders hunched over their stallions? You know, a real adrenaline-driven mood. Or are you covering the event with long shots interspersed with the crowd shots as you attempt to capture a Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous vibe? As you might envision, the former scenario would be well served with a track like “Wild Beast” (Super Themes 79) whereas the later might benefit from something like “Positive Experience.” (Super Themes 43)

Even a sport as benign as billiards might be viewed using the same approach. A series of close ups, shot at table level and edited in a fast paced manner could be enhanced with a track like “Amped.” (Super Themes 70) Or if you were shooting for (no pun intended) the tension as found in the classic film, The Hustler, a tune like “Right Where I Want You” (Super Themes 68) will have viewers biting their nails.

No matter what sort of unusual sport is thrown your way, (again, no pun intended) you simply need to evaluate the direction you’ll be taking and establish some keywords to search the CSS Music library. Even something as unusual as scuba diving (keyword “underwater”) can be underscored with a track like “Tension At 20,000 Leagues.” (Project Platinum 17) Just decide on your point of view and use your imagination; we’ll be here with music to meet any situation—or any uncommon sporting event—that may come across your DAW.

August 28, 2017

Primal Scene

Where Using CSS Music’s Nature Wild & Raw Makes Sense

Nothing sets a mood for a show or scene like a black screen with an unpredictable piece of music setting the mood. The tension—or perhaps humor—is immediately conjured in the viewers mind without ever showing a single image. For those of you producing reality television shows looking for ear/eye candy to freshen up a scene, try this…

 Let’s say you want to create a faux set-up for a laugh. Maybe one of your stars is wearing a bizarre looking hat, has an unusual injury, is in a funny situation, etc. Lay in CSS Music’s Super Themes volume 68 “All Five Senses”—the :30 version might be perfect--over black screen. Using your best movie trailer copy ideas, add text like “One Man,” “On A Mission Like None Other…” “Battling Odds Never Imagined…” etc. etc.

As the music builds, increase the drama by speeding up your bullet points; maybe use some flying fonts, add unusual colors on certain letters or words or go with the old Stars Wars scroll and mess with the fonts as you get close to the end of the music. When the final echoing chord strikes, hold your punch line for an extra beat. Then smash cut to a CU shot of the hat/wound/situation, etc.

Done properly, you should get an immediate laugh because of the juxtaposition of the dramatic/unsettled nature of your setup to the unexpected humorous payoff.

Not to say this is the only way this is the only way the CSS Music Nature Wild & Raw category can benefit your show.  On the same Super Themes Volume 68 is a terrific track entitled “Heart Pounding Hard” that features a driving electric guitar riff separated by quiet delayed guitar or synthesizer echoes. This tune is ideal when you have two situations you need to cover at the same time—someone is racing to get somewhere, somebody else is waiting or is dealing with a problem. With it’s fiery tempo, “Heart Pounding Hard” provides excellent short cues for you to cut to each situation.

Take a few minutes to audition the 4 pages we’ve culled in this category. You’ll find it on the CSS Music/Zero Fee Music home page under Hand Picked Genre/Category Hot List. See where your imagination takes you as you listen to these unique tracks!