February 29, 2016

A New Day In The Swamp

Understanding the Hick Hop Sound

If you’re producing outdoor and testosterone driven television shows and want contemporary music laced with a Country or Bluegrass vibe, welcome to CSS Music’s latest music genre, Hick Hop!

The name is derived from “hick” (hillbilly) music and “hip hop.” And it truly sounds like its name! Booming kick drums, electronic percussion and synth basses overlaid with dobro, fiddle, harmonica, pedal steel and acoustic and electric guitars make this music perfect for action packed scenes requiring some attitude.

The tempi for Hick Hop usually runs from 80-90 beats per minute (bpm). The bass part can be a simple root-5th on 1 and 3 or a more complex funky groove that interacts with the drums.

Hick Hop songs usually feature a good ol’ boy rapping over the track--the song’s chorus is usually sung. It’s very similar to Hip Hop/R&B in terms of structure.

When you use a CSS Music Hick Hop track you’ll find it sits nicely with dialog since it’s primarily a rhythm section with repetitive licks from the bluegrass or country instruments. 

And it’s not just for swamp action! Hick Hop works very well in primarily macho male scenes. For example, a quick cut montage of an engine being dropped into a muscle car and edited to one of these tracks? Your show will suddenly have the contemporary vibe you’ve been seeking. 

Where you typically use “traveling music” for B roll footage will also be given new life with a Hick Hop track. Editing your footage to the music really creates a testosterone infused scene. 

You can also line up the Alternate Mix (or Drums and Bass Mix) with the full version and use it under dialog. Just cross fade as necessary and you’re good to go!

Drag a CSS Music Hick Hop track into your next project and find out why this wildly popular genre works!

February 22, 2016

Doing It Gilligan Style

Underscoring Your Opening Scene Like Breaking Bad or Saul

That opening long shot, taking SO much time to establish. That sense of unease as the camera remains stationary then very slowly pans in as music that doesn’t necessarily make any sense, plays through a radio speaker. Weird, unsettling, bizarre…and you’re totally hooked.  

Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul creator Vince Gilligan turned the television drama on it’s head with not only unique story lines, but with  a visionary’s eye toward the cinematography and music selection. 

While surprisingly simple to create, there are two elements that you might consider if you borrow from Vince Gilligan on your next show. 

First is subject matter and camera placement. If you’re shooting a corporate video, you might typically begin with a full screen establish shot of the corporate headquarters, underscored with positive upbeat music. Yawn.

But what if you place the camera at ground level? Then create a time-lapse montage of people coming and going all day? Perhaps find a way for the corporate logo to be out of focus behind these fast moving feet?

Then the second element, sound, comes into play. You could start with a subtle “wind across the prairie” behind the moving people. Then either add or cross fade to music so out of left field, your audience will be on the edge of their seats with curiousity. 

If you search our CSS Library with keywords like “ethereal, offbeat, quirky, tension,” etc. and audition your results against the video, we believe you’ll find the perfect track to give the scene an unusual vibe.

BONUS: If you’re a film fan, imagine a 1960’s or 70’s foreign film, most likely shot on 16 mm.  Perhaps process your footage with a grainy old film texture and then complete the effect by adding your opening credits in white lettered text just as your music begins. 

While we can’t all be Hitchcock, Orson Wells or Vince Gilligan, we can borrow from their artistry to give new life to often very tired subject matter. Have fun!