September 27, 2016

Classically Gassed

A Look At Quasi-Classical Music

Have you ever run into a situation where a piece of classical music seems appropriate but when you fly it in, the familiarity factor raises its ugly head? Yeah, it helps the scene but that Bach piece has been used to death. Might we suggest looking at the CSS Music original, quasi-classical tracks?

On the CSS Music search page,  you will find our list of hand picked genres for your perusal. Click on “Classical” and you will find 400 tracks from our library in a variety of styles, tempi and arrangements. Besides the “Greatest Hits” from the Masters, there are original pieces like “Classical Touch” (Super Themes, Vl. 37,) a gentle guitar piece with a nod toward the great Andre Segovia. And on Super Themes Vl. 13 there’s a playful original piece by David Wurst entitled, “Scherzando in C Major” that could work extremely well in place of a more familiar Mozart or Bach piece.

Need something that’s totally whack? Listen to “Information Explosion” (Super Themes, Vl. 18) that incorporates classical themes over a busy electronic sequencer bed. And for the Holidays there’s a quasi-classical piece from Project Platinum, Vl. 10, “The Christmas Waltz.” Speaking of waltzes, there’s an interesting piece in Repro-File Potpourri called “E flat Waltz” that evokes a scenic, travelogue vibe.

Of course if you need something from the classical era, CSS Music has an assortment  of some of the most popular themes ever composed. From Bach to Vivaldi, we have conventional classical to suit any situation you might encounter. Oh! If you’ve never heard Mason William’s “Classical Gas,” Google it. J

September 26, 2016

More Cue!

Further Exploration of the Music Cue

If you’ve ever witnessed a band’s sound check you may have heard someone yell, “More cue!” Well, this post has nothing to do with that. J We had discussed before the difference between how a song is structured versus how a music cue is composed. Here are a few other thoughts on how you guys can optimize your use of the CSS Music tracks when scoring a scene.

We know nearly all of you are working with digital workstations and can see the waveform of the music track. If you’ve found a perfect track but it’s structured in a song (A-A-B-A) format, you can view each section and quickly mouse to each section to hear which one works best with your picture.

Let’s say you only need :15-:20 and you want to use the “first verse” of the song because it’s the sparsest. You can most likely highlight that section from the full-length version, then copy and paste into another track. Job done!

Sometimes with a “song structured” track you’ll find a C section that’s usually a breakdown. And often time this portion of the song will offer some new ear candy elements that you may want to use in another section of the same show. It will give a sense of continuity yet provide freshness to the scene.

And don’t forget that with both our PowerTrax® library and some of the new tracks in Project Platinum®, CSS Music provides you with alternate mixes—usually rhythm mixes. These stripped down tracks can be invaluable when you need a cue-style section. Happy post production editing!

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!