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.