October 23, 2017

Technology Marches On

Getting The Most Out Of The CSS Royalty FreeMusic Library For High Tech Shows

As we’ve mentioned, CSS Music began primarily as a library for the AV-Video market of the 1980’s. And since that time, we’ve enhanced this category with new takes on this wide-ranging genre. But the question becomes: What exactly constitutes Technology music? Does it have to be comprised of tightly quantized synthesizer or washes of billowing evolving tones? Is there still a place in your shows for some old school sounds or perhaps a modern take using orchestral instruments?

While traditionally synthesized music will always work well, may we suggest listening to a few tunes from the CSS Music library that might work as well while giving you a new perspective?  For example, “Technota in D” (Project Platinum 21) uses an arpeggio piano figure, strings and power guitar while still putting one in mind of technology with a Classical twist. Or “Age Of Exploration” (Super Themes 25) where a tympani rhythm drives the music while a brass-like synthesizer delivers the melody. When you want a more contemporary feel, “Industrial Firepower” (Super Themes 42) uses rock guitar with 1980s-style drums with a definite nod to the melodic figures of that era.

When you’re looking for something quirky, “Happy Science” (Max Trax 50) combines sections of traditional technology sequencers with smatterings of swirling string section runs and a melody/harmonic progression that has a 1960’s vibe. This catchy track also jumps between a rock groove to a double time feel. Need something more sci-fi with video game appeal? Audition “Virtual Warriors” (Super Themes 27) and imagine this track underscoring your scene.

If you click on “Technology” from our Hand Picked Genre/Category Hot Lists search engine you’ll see 46 pages of very diverse industrial/technology tracks from the CSS Music library—and that’s a lot of music! We still pride ourselves on creating very strong music to service the AV-Video market while working to give you both traditional synth/sequencer tracks as well as those that incorporate new thinking using orchestral and rock elements/arrangements. When it comes to music for technological shows, we think CSS Music has it in spades!

October 16, 2017

That’s All, Folk!

What Exactly Is Folk Music Today

When you think of Folk music you might call to mind images of a 1960’s coffee house with a small stage crowded with turtle neck-dressed musicians wailing about the woes of the world. Bands like The Kingston Trio, The New Christy Minstrels, Peter, Paul & Mary or The Seekers were household names and even charted with some hit songs. We at CSS Royalty Free Music have a warm place in our hearts for this simple music genre and we’ll deconstruct the original form and where Folk music is today.

These early groups wrote/performed very simple music, usually comprised of three or four chords and unornamented melodies. The Seekers did begin to break the mold with their very poppy hits like “Georgy Girl,” “I’ll Never Find Another You” and “A World Of Our Own” that introduced catchy melodies and great vocals. Being from Australia may have contributed to their sound…or perhaps they had a visionary A&R person picking their music. Today’s bands like Fleet Foxes, Of Monsters and Men, Mumford & Sons or The Lumineers have evolved the Folk sound by introducing new melodic structure that deliver very singable themes.

Where the original Folk orchestrations used only acoustic guitar and perhaps an upright bass, these new artists are bringing in drums/percussion, mandolins, banjos, accordions, electric bass guitar and other non-folk instruments. And with these additional instruments, the music gurus have decided to deem these bands Indie Pop, Folk Rock or Alt Folk.

CSS Music has a variety of the modern Folk genres. Tunes like “Rolling Home,” (PowerTrax 28) “A Road Trip Quietly” (PowerTrax 33) or “Road Trip Anthem” (PowerTrax 34) will make you want to put on your flannel shirt and funky-cool hat.   If you want the vibe of traditional Folk, something like “Down Home Acoustic,” (Repo-File Plus 42) “Family Reunion” which also has a vocal version, (PowerTrax 37) “Memories We Made,” (Super Themes 37) or for some 1970’s flair, “Box Sliding.” (Back Trax 4) Yes, we fondly salute the Folk pioneers of the 1960s and we know you guys/gals need lots of the newer sounds. Take a tour of our Folk collection by choosing “Folk” from our Keyword Alpha Lists or simply type It in to our Bulid-A-Search. Happy hunting!

October 10, 2017

What Was With The 1970’s?

When Silence Is Golden…and When It’s A Clear Miss

In a previous blog we mentioned the brilliance of The French Connection and Director William Friedkin’s excellent use of sound design to underscore a chase scene. And another film of that era, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation utilized music sparingly to heighten the story’s tension.

But one that could have been seriously enhanced with music was Al Pacino (first starring role) in Panic In Needle Park. This story of a affable heroin junkie had absolutely no music. In fact, there was no composer listed in the opening credits! And quite honestly, with it’s tragic story arc, we at CSS Music believe this movie would have evoked a lot more emotion had they scored it—even sparingly, with music.

Perhaps the problem with Panic in Needle Park may have been in editing. As we noted with The French Connection, the action was quickly edited and the street/train sounds made the tension so palatable you could taste it. The action in Needle Park was edited in a more traditional fashion and without music to literally move the movie along, it sometimes felt like more of a documentary.

Now, we at CSS Music are huge Al Pacino fans and his performance was outstanding. In fact, Francis Ford Coppola was so impressed that he hired Pacino to play the iconic role of Michael Corleone, his next film, in one of the greatest films of all time, The Godfather.

Your mission as a music editor or supervisor is to decide when music should be used and when natural ambiance better serves the scene. We know that editing to a music track makes your work go faster, but maybe take a cue from the 1970s and try creating tension or excitement by using fast edits and let the background sounds be the underscore. Not that we’re suggesting not incorporating the excellent music from the CSS  Royalty Free Music library! Just put the idea in the back of your mind when you need a fresh take on something that was popular in the 70s.

October 03, 2017

Trending The Trends

What’s Hot in Music This Week/Month/Year?

As we’ve previously discussed in this blog, music for AV/Video seems to evolve from  1). What national advertisers have embraced and 2). That music usually is a derivative of current Pop music trends. We here at CSS Royalty Free Music keep our ears tuned to both the radio and television advertising.  But we are also strong proponents of creating music that might be the next new trend, or even better, going back to material from our earlier years to explore vintage sounds.

Think about this: Dubstep music was born out of video games, dance clubs and eventually made its way into action films and television commercials. But where is it today? Sure, you’ll hear elements from the genre—wuba bass, quarter note triplet figures and synthesizer figures. But the ear-bleeding screeches and wild and crazy “drops” are pretty much history.

On the other hand: What we used to consider Funk— James Brown. George Clinton, Kool & The Gang, Prince et al has made a major resurgence thanks to Bruno Mars. Is the music he presents substantially different from that of the iconic Funk Masters? Nope. If anything, the sound pays homage to the genre with the slap bass, syncopated horn licks and surprise pauses. Had Bruno Mars  “Uptown Funk” been played on late 1960s radio, it would have not only fit in perfectly, it would also have been a hit.

Also: There’s Alt Country and Alt Folk, genres that evolved from the Indie musician movement. From artists like Ryan Adams to Old 97’s to Steve Earle to the Avett Brothers to Lucinda Williams, this music has raw emotionality and no-frills production. Yet when you listen to the instrumental sections—which you guys will be most concerned with—the arrangements and orchestrations are still pretty much traditional Country or Bluegrass and could come from nearly any era.

So when you’re trying to freshen up your next show, take a few moments to explore some of the earlier tracks—usually meaning first volumes—from the CSS Music library. We believe you’ll find some gems that may have whiskers but may now be cool enough for prime time. You’ll also find a surfeit of older material in Repo-File Potpourri. There’s even a nice laid back track entitled “Funk” that’s still timeless today!