June 21, 2016

Be A Good Sport(s)

Be A Good Sport(s)
Lights, Camera and Lots of Action

For you guys/gals in the trenches who are really trying to up your game by underscoring sports or action scenes with contemporary music, here are a couple ideas you may have not yet explored. Sure, a hard driving rock track may be your de facto choice, but perhaps a little extra effort will reap accolades from your director and producer on your sports oriented show.

What if (for example) you take that shot of a fishing line being cast into the water and apply the slo-mo effect? Under that shot you use a pastoral music track like “Twilight Textures” from Super Themes. Suddenly, what was a ho-hum stock shot becomes a magical, wistful moment. When you edit the fish striking the line, cut to a music track like “Swamp Dirt Twistin’” from Project Platinum. This driving hick hop track married to the battle of landing the fish will reinforce that outdoor ambiance while giving the scene a hip vibe.

Or if you’re working on a motorsports show, apply the same principal. For example: edit the pit crew prepping the car for takeoff—lifting the rear end, changing tires, filling the tank, adjusting the spoiler, etc.—into a very fast montage. Then apply the slo-mo effect with the same type of pastoral music. Just as the car is about to go, break into a hard driving track like “Dark Swamp Adventure Part 2” from Powertrax AV. Suddenly the danger of the track and what the driver is about to face comes to life.

We here at CSS Music know adding such touches requires a little extra time. But we believe you’ll love the process of trying these tricks and your end results will be well worth the effort.

June 18, 2016

Industrial Is Still Cool

Overcoming the Stigma of Music Genre Names

For years, Industrial music—NOT Industrial Rock--was thought of as music for corporate presentations only. Maybe words like stodgy, buttoned-up or un-cool come to mind. But if you go back through the CSS Music library with an open mind and give a listen to some of the tracks we’ve designated as “Industrial,” we think you’ll find some pleasant surprises.

If you audition any of the Power Trax industrial CD’s you’ll find Rhythm Mixes of every track. And the grooves from these tracks are perfect for underscoring contemporary reality television. After all, you’re after music that supports and propels your scenes, right? And the generally upbeat tempos of industrial tracks can work great with action, travel or energy-infused scenes. By the way: there are some very cool grooves on Power Trax Volume 12, “Industrial Rhythms.”

Listening to a Super Themes disc like Big Corporate IV you’ll find a wealth of different moods from brassy fanfares to lighter fare to high-energy sports tracks that can work in many situations. Super Themes has a number of “Industrial” discs that definitely are worth a listen.

With a disk like New Marketplace from Target Trax, you’ll find a plethora of moods and styles that might be described as Neo-Industrial. While the overall vibe of New Marketplace has elements of old school industrial, the freshness and variety of moods could find a place in your next show.

So don’t let the moniker “Industrial” immediately freeze out your music audition. We believe you’ll find some very usable tracks in the CSS Music library.

June 15, 2016

Making The Mood Magic

Capturing the Perfect Emotion With Music

When you have scenes that demand something more than non-intrusive underscore music, CSS Music has you covered. From joyful discovery to the darkest moments to a whimsical reflection, we’ve labeled our tracks with more information than just music style and orchestration.

For example, if you first use our Multiple Keyword Search found at the bottom of our Search page and (for example) enter “Ethereal” and “Wistful” you’ll find a perfect track from our MaxTrax library entitled “Ocean of the Mind” on our Redi-Trax search page.

But you can even delve deeper into your search.  Entering “Sad, Emotional, Film” will immediately produce “Listen to My Story” from Target Trax and “English Patients” from Repro-file® plus.

You can build a bigger playlist by simplifying your search using something like “film, dramatic.”  Not only will you be rewarded with many pages that include film composer David Wurst’s cinematic music, but a wide selection from other CSS Music tracks.

Using our current keywords will give you best results. By using (again, for example) “dramatic, heartfelt” your search will yield our cream of the crop tracks. Another search with “heartfelt, acoustic” will give the softer side of heartfelt.

If you’re searching for something more contemporary, combining “contemporary” with keywords like “powerful” or “warm” or “emotional” will get you that much closer to finding the perfect CSS Music track to capture the emotion your show demands.

June 07, 2016

Around The World

Re-thinking Ethnic Music

So you have a scene where people are dining at a Mexican restaurant. You do a search choosing “Latin” from the handy CSS Music search engine. “South of the Border” from V-Trax has a nice bouncy traditional “La Bamba” feel. Or “Fire of Desire” with it’s Flamenco-style guitar from Super Themes could underscore your scene. But is the right mood for your show and your demographics?

Latin music (and many other ethnic music genres) has grown and expanded from the traditional sounds of only a decade ago. There’s now Latin Trap, Latin Hip Hop, Latin Dance, etc. etc. And the mood of these styles vary substantially from earlier styles like Tex-Mex, Bossa Nova, Cha Cha et al.

 Instead of something traditional for that Mexican restaurant scene, perhaps a tune with a more contemporary feel like “Low Rider” or “Slick Chica” from Super Themes or “Latin Lamb Stew” from Project Platinum will give you a whole new vibe.

Or if you want to create your own modernized take of a traditional World track, try this. Start with a track from Super Themes Volume 56 Drumscapes.  There are a number of modern drum grooves that will work as your foundation.

Then experiment with one of the many CSS Music World tracks. Using your time stretching software, get the World track to tempo match your chosen Drumscape. Once the beats match, you can then create your own contemporary take on an ethnic genre. Oftentimes you only need a short 4 bar loop from the World track dropped in judiciously to give you a super cool mash-up modernized track!

At CSS Music we’re always listening to you and listening to the latest genres of music. Be looking for new releases coming soon!

May 25, 2016

And Now For Something Completely Different

Making Your Scenes Speak From a New Musical Perspective

If you’re a fan of Monty Python’s Flying Circus you probably know where our title originated. The Python’s were the epitome of cutting edge British humor during the late 1970’s (and beyond) with a truly wacky view of life and people. And everything they did from a production perspective reflected their zaniness. Especially the Eric Idle songs that are now a huge Broadway hit, Spamalot.

Every new show you produce offers new challenges. With the competitive nature of reality television today, having some “grab your ears” music for particular scenes will elevate the quality of your show. So think like a Python.

If you approach your script like a composer in a spotting session and think a little outside the box, you might surprise yourself—and your viewers, with some new ideas!

For example: a scene where the host/main character(s) wear a funny hat. Do you want the usual silly music? Or something that relates to the story and the hat? Is the hat a prop like a reptile head or a ball cap with a beak? Or something like a cheese head?  If you drill down beyond “silly hat music” and relate the music to what the hat is about, your subtext is heightened.

Start searching the CSS Music database. Come up with three or four “maybe tracks” for the scene. Once you start locking the music with picture, one of these should set the right vibe. If you have the luxury of time (yeah, right!) and you know what’s coming your way, downloading these tracks ahead of time will give you extra time if the Director thinks you’ve gone batty. J

Going beyond the obvious can pay off down the road. If your show exhibits creativity in music underscoring, you will grow your audience. And as we know, that’s the name of the game!

May 20, 2016

Wait A Minute

Understanding the Dubstep Structure

Nothing says energy and attitude like Dubstep music. The throbbing “wobble bass,” ear splitting synths, quarter note triplet figures and of course, the mandatory “drop” are popular elements found in true Dubstep. Combing this music with action footage (not necessarily shot with a Steadicam® btw) edited with quick cuts and some bizarre graphics or photo inserts is a perfect recipe for testosterone driven video.

But what you might not know: there is a particular structure used in Dubstep song construction. First, the tempo is typically 140 bpm (beats per minute) with the first 32-35 bars being a unique audio soundscape. This “intro” can be a beautiful, light sequencer-based introduction, establishment of a theme or a collage of sound effects and voices.

If you do the math, 35 bars of 4/4 music at 140 bpm equals one minute. After this opening comes the obligatory “drop.” If you think in terms of conventional music, the drop would be equal to an explosive percussion build that leads into exciting, driving music.

In Dubstep, the drop is usually a gigantic synthesizer fall-off that is enhanced with God-knows-what audio snippets quickly edited that just grabs you by the ears

After the drop, the screechy ear-bleeding music begins. Then tempo might change from a fast four to a pulsing half-time feel. While synthesizers are often used, the metamorphosis of the Dubstep genre now includes power guitars typically found in action video gaming music.

If you want to test drive a Dubstep track, give “Watch Your Step Mr. Bond” on CSS Music Target Trax “Contemporary Styles” a whirl. You’ll find the “meat” of the track really begins about one minute into the track. And we believe your pulse rate will definitely go up! J

May 10, 2016

The Three B's

Should You Use Classical Music or Modern Classical?

Anyone who has ever taken piano lessons learned about the three B’s—Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. An ivory bust of one of these guys may have even adorned your piano. These guys were really rock stars of the Classical music genre and they wrote music accessible enough that even a 7 year old could play them after a year’s worth of lessons.

Classical music is still frequently used in film music; it’s not surprising that these beloved melodies still hold up two centuries later. CSS Music has Classical tracks of well-known composers, but also film score music that pays homage to these great composers while offering a fresh, original approach.

The decision for you as an editor, music supervisor or music coordinator is this: do I want to use a familiar piece of music or something that approximates the mood of a Classical tune?

If the scene you’re editing contains important information that you want the viewer to remember, having a recognized Classical track may work against you. Remember we’re in a brave new world of multitasking. If the viewer is checking his/her email on their iPhone while eating a ham sandwich and taking in your show, information might get lost if they focus their listening on Bach’s “Air Adagio” (Super Themes, Opera and Light Classical).

If you used a track like “Scenic Sketches” (Super Themes, Acoustic Gold) instead, the music would become background; attention would focus on the narrator or dialog. And the email and ham sandwich. J Not to say that “Scenic Sketches” is blasé! But it’s a simple piano piece that sets a relaxing tone while providing motion to your scene.

So maybe save “The 1812 Overture” (Digital Ditties) for that fireworks footage and explore the CSS Music original pieces when you don’t want to call attention to the music.