October 26, 2016

The Morphing of the Motion Picture Soundtrack

A Look At the Evolution of Musical Underscores

We are so blessed at CSS Music to have David and Eric Wurst in our stable of great composers. This brother team has been composing film music for 25 years (they were 12 and 13 when they began—kidding! Inside Hollywood joke) and have over fifty film credits under their belts. From the beginning, these guys loved—and still love—writing music for motion pictures, video games and theme parks.

How has film music evolved over the years? If you think back to the classic John Williams score for the 1977 “Star Wars,” a new era in writing for the big screen was born. While composers like Max Steiner and Bernard Hermann always brought drama to the table (and most likely influenced Williams,) it was John Williams masterpiece for George Lucas’ first sci-fi adventure that assigned musical motifs to characters that appear throughout the film. Even the opening credits utilized these themes, much like you’d hear in an overture to a musical.

It could be argued that many early composers used similar techniques, such as Max Steiner’s “Tara’s Theme” from “Gone With The Wind.” But Williams elevated use of character motif throughout the entire “Star Wars” score.

While this technique is still employed in epic motion pictures today, the trend of late has been to use familiar contemporary music to capture a mood versus defining characters. Films like “American Hustle,” “Pulp Fiction” and “O Brother Where Art Thou” (to name a few) use pre-recorded songs to create a vibe versus writing to character. While this is an effective direction, it’s also incredibly expensive.

CSS Music is devoted to bringing you music that will best serve your film, doc or television series. Spend some time with our libraries--in particular, Super Themes. We believe once you hear the skill, effort and craftsmanship David Wurst has put into this library, you’ll agree that we have the film music you will “go to” again and again.

October 22, 2016

Country or Western?

Understanding the Differences and Similarities

If someone today says, “I don’t like Country Western” you may be confused. Do they mean they don’t care for the cry-in-your-beer story songs of Country music? Or are they saying that Western swing music or the tales of cowboys isn’t their cup of tea? CSS Music to the rescue to set the “record” straight.

Back in the early days of Country music when Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry broadcast their famous radio program, you would hear many styles of music. One minute it’s Hank Williams or Patsy Cline singing a sorrowful song, then Bill Monroe and his upbeat bluegrass music poured from the speaker. (Everything was mono back then.) At that time, Western meant the music of the western U.S. as in Marty Robbins gunfighter ballads or Gene Autry’s cowboy songs, but it also included the western swing sound of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys.

As we’ve discussed before, there is a myriad of Country music styles today as well as derivations of the Western genre. Even the popular Singer-Songwriter category borrows from both Country and Western.

So what sets them musically apart? If you took a Roy Rogers music track sans vocal, you’d probably hear acoustic guitar, bass, pedal steel and fiddle—something often heard in a Traditional Country backing track. But there are subtle differences. Where the conventional lost-my-wife-lost-my-dog Country song plays straight 8th note strums/rhythms, the Western version will have a swung 8th note feel, like in a horse loping along the trail. There are also “licks” played by the fiddle and steel that are indigenous to each that establish the mood of the song and the style.

So when you need music with a Country OR Western vibe, you’ll find Country in Super Themes Country/Bluegrass, Volume 28 and Western swing with tracks like “Texas Swing Saturday Night” on Project Platinum Volume 2. Or simply choose “Western” from our Keywords Alpha List and hear some other variations on this truly American style of music.

October 18, 2016

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 it 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 our 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

October 12, 2016

Where They Are Today

More About Our Composers

In a previous blog we’d proudly boasted about the CSS Music composers and their adaptability to ever-changing music genres. While we’d love to mention every composer by name and their current accomplishments, suffice to say the list would be too lengthy for this blog.

We will however take the time to mention three of our most prominent writers and their current projects. First and foremost is the very talented and prolific David Wurst.  David not only created our massive and diverse Super Themes library, but he’s also contributed tracks to many other CSS libraries. As an L.A. based film composer, David, along with his brother Eric Wurst (who has written 10 discs for us,) have scored over 50 films and are working on a new one now. In addition to writing film music and library tracks, both David and Eric are working with a major entertainment company creating music for popular theme parks around the world.

Marshall Such began writing for CSS Music in 1988 when he debuted the PowerTrax library. Since then he’s also composed tracks for our other libraries as well as developing his own library, Project Platinum. Coming from a radio background, Marshall wrote and produced “Radio! The Musical” with his lifelong tunesmith friend, Stephen Taylor. The show premiered in Dallas in 2002 in partnership with two of DFW’s most prestigious radio stations. Today, Such and Taylor are in development of a new musical, “American Muse,” a time travel tale that incorporates new arrangements of Public Domain material as well as original songs.

And our other writers? Their secondary jobs read like a Yellow Pages ad: a copier repairman, studio musicians, a music supervisor, computer programmers, alarm sales person, stereo equipment sales and many are music teachers. And like David, Eric and Marshall, we’re very proud of every one of them!