June 20, 2017

To Cry, Sigh or Smile, That Is The Question

What Makes Music Emotional

The wonderful thing about music is how it affects our feelings. And CSS Music has music that can evoke just about any emotion you’re trying to achieve. Whether you want a sad song, something wistful or a track that elicits laughter, we believe you will find an excellent selection from which to choose. Let’s take a look at what goes into making music move us.

Foremost in creating emotional music is setting the mood. A piece of music that’s sad, sorrowful or wistful can be created with a solo instrument. How many films have you seen where a piano plays a simple melodic line to carry the most crucial scenes? You may not even be aware that strings are subtly being added as the scene evolves, moving to its conclusion. Sometimes upward key changes are incorporated to “lift” the emotional impact.

The next element is melody. If you happen across a movie from the 1980s you may notice that melodies were much more prevalent than they are in films today. In fact, some current underscores rely solely on a chord progression and perhaps percussive elements—there’s no leaving-the-theater humming a tune. Not to say that the masters like John Williams, James Horner and Hans Zimmer aren’t writing incredibly lush, evocative scores with terrific melodies!

Finally, orchestrations and production are the glue that binds. And not every piece of emotional music needs to be played by an 80-piece orchestra. Look at unsettled simplicity of David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti’s “Twin Peaks Theme” with the eerie vibrato guitar, or the layered synthesizers Vangelis used in “Blade Runner.” More often than not, a well-composed piano piece will always win the day.

Yes, we here at CSS Music love a piece of music that heightens our emotions. And we believe you’ll find a surfeit of wonderfully emotionally tracks in our library for your next production. Type a few keywords like “emotional” or “heartwarming” in our Build-A-Search menu and get out your hankie. 

June 12, 2017

Lights, Camera, Music!

Exploring The Cinematic Music in Super Themes

Whether you’re producing an A/V show, reality television or maybe a low budget film that you want to sound like a major motion picture and you’re seeking true film score music, we have you covered. We’re blessed to have David Wurst, a world-class composer with a number of films under his belt as well as the creator of the Super Themes library, developed exclusively for CSS Music.

If you want to dig into David’s work, click on the Search by Library button and select Super Themes. You’ll immediately notice that Volume 1 is called The Big Screen. On that disc you’ll find everything from adventure with “Super Hero” to Western vistas with “Westward Ho! to the evocative and inspirational “Echoes Of America.” You’ll find Volumes 11 and 12, Super Cinema and Big Screen II are also packed with incredibly well produced music. One of our favorite cuts is on Volume 12, “The Homecoming” that practically paints a patriotic scene in your mind. While there are other excellent film music discs, David’s latest album, Big Screen Xlll is a tour de force with epic themes and extraordinary orchestrations.

But not every film today—or television show or AVpresenation--requires large orchestral scores. That’s why you’ll find volumes like Exotic Destinations, Just For Kids, Light Jazz, Country/Bluegrass, Best of the Blues and Modern Vibe which features some really cool tracks like “Lover” that sound like it just sashayed off the runway at Fashion Week in New York.

David is also a master of all genres of Rock and you’ll find everything from Rock & Rebellion to X Rock to Rock and Urban Muscle, to name a few. Just about any scene you may need to underscore with rock music can be found in one of these discs.

We at CSS Music are proud to represent David (and his brother/co-composer Eric) Wurst and the cinematic quality of Super Themes. We highly recommend you take this library for a test drive with your next show. We believe you’ll find exactly what you’re after and will enjoy the accolades you’ll receive for using it! J

June 02, 2017

Digging Deep For Treasure

Finding Gems in the CSS Music Library

We’ve frequently discussed using our search engine and the three convenient ways to find music. And in most situations, simply using our Hand Picked Genre/Category Hot Lists menu will quickly get results.

But what if you’re looking for something particular that’s a wee bit off the beaten path? Maybe you need a track specified by a client or your Music Supervisor in less-than-clear terminology? Well…this is where both the CSS Music Keyword Alpha Lists and Build-A-Search by Keyword search engines shine.

If the directive is simply like “Action” and “Hip Hop,” you’ll find the dropdown menu in the Keyword Alpha Lists engine will swiftly yield treasures. Even if you add the additional parameter “Rap” you’ll get results, albeit a single track. While we’ve conveniently used examples that work with the Alpha Lists alphabet constraints, you will probably find workaround words to fit your needs.

When you’ve been asked to find something more esoteric with words like “Energy” and “Action,” you’ll find the Build-A-Search delivers excellent results. Even a more obscure description like “Nature, Gentle, Soft” will lead to just the right choices. If you want to see the Build-A-Search really perform, type in “Cinematic, Action” and enjoy 14 pages of our terrific film music.

Our goal at CSS Music is to make your work go faster and to make the process of finding music as easy as possible. While many music libraries use just one search system, we believe our constantly evolving keyword search methodology will be the process you’ll choose to use time and again!

May 30, 2017

Changing Music Seamlessly

A Discussion of Hard Edits Versus Cross-Fades

As a music editor or music supervisor, you probably use different techniques when making changes to your music. At CSS Music, we watch a variety of television programs while making notes on musical styles, where the music is placed and how the music is edited. We know you’re probably familiar with the techniques we’ll discuss, but a review—plus our observations—may still be helpful.

When going from one piece of music to the next, especially when wall-to-wall music is used in a show, you can either back time from the end of piece of music—butt cutting your tracks so there’s always a conclusion—or start a track from a good point and fade out as the next track begins. We notice in particular competition reality shows, like Food Network’s “Chopped,” that hard editing is often used, with each of the exciting endings building in intensity. This proves to be a very effective way to heighten the tension. Even the incidental music used during the cooking portion of the show usually features a concluding final chord.

Watching a more leisurely reality program, one notices more use of the cross-fade technique. Is this because there’s not the urgency? Or does the fact that scenes run longer make this a preferred method? Or perhaps the repetition of today’s composition styling make this a natural solution? Either way, the end result is a smooth flow from scene to scene. One note: if a scene closes and is then followed by dialog, cutting to the ending seems to be the norm.

As mentioned above, CSS Music does pay attention to current trends and we’re constantly adding new tracks designed to serve the reality television market. Simplicity, good grooves, minimal theme development and button endings are high on our list of requirements for providing you guys/gals new material. Sure, we still have a surfeit of great tracks with a melodic evolution and exciting arrangements. But when you’re on deadline and want to make your editing go quickly and smoothly, CSS Music has you covered!

May 24, 2017

Thinking Like A Musical

Pacing Your Video With An Emotional Flow

If you’re in the process of creating any type of non-reality show, CSS Music suggests it might be wise to sit down and watch a musical or two. Better yet, support your local theatre groups or national touring companies and see one live; the impact of a live performance can be absolutely breathtaking. But why see a musical you ask?

Like a film that’s built in 3 acts, a musical does likewise, typically in 2 acts. While film and live stage plays/musicals share a commonality in exposition, development and conclusion, a musical adds another dimension: the impact of music that explores a character, advances the plot or creates moments of humor, pathos or triumph. And you can apply this methodology, even if your characters don’t sing a note!

Even putting together a corporate AV video, musical elements can take your show from ho-hum to historic. For example, when you’re writing the opening, why not get creative and use a style of music that sets the tone for the show? Remember, it’s no longer cool to be staid and simply factual. You want to engage your viewers from the start and hold their attention for the next X minutes.

As you get into the facts/figures/graphics portion of the presentation, scoring each element with music that reflects what’s on the screen can be dramatic. Even a usually starchy HR video can be brought to life with the right read from your narrator, underscored with the appropriate music.  (Don’t be afraid to use stage directions in your script! Announcers really appreciate knowing the direction you want them to take.)

If you have a talking head as part of your presentation, imagine he’s singing instead of simply speaking. While it might get a bit goofy to change musical moods on every one of his/her talking points, a couple well-edited transformations might really make your video soar.

As we’ve mentioned in previous blogs, CSS Music has served the AV/Video community for decades and we’re still here creating music for you guys & gals. (“Guys and Dolls?”) Rethinking your writing with an eye toward the emotional power of a musical may be just the ticket for your next show!