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Classical Music Or Production Music?

What's that classical music I heard?

Classical Music Or Production Music?

Postby kickassclassical » Tue Sep 30, 2008 9:54 pm

Every once in a while we are asked to identify a piece of Classical Music that turns out to be production music.

You see, when the budget allows, musical scores are created on a custom basis - for example, John Williams composing the score for a Harry Potter film.

When the budget doesn't allow (which is most of the time), producers use production music - mass-produced, off-the-shelf "stock" music (similar in concept to stock photography) created for the specific purpose of scoring radio and television commercials, TV shows, movies, documentaries, multimedia presentations, YouTube videos, etc.

It's fairly easy to recognize production music. It typically has the characteristics of an underscore, and is a bit non-descript in nature, with limited lead instrumentation and predictable chord progressions. The music serves its purpose - supporting the content without distracting from it.

Some production music companies like X-Ray Dog Music create music that is strong enough to stand on its own - and even add to the content.

The pieces of music are usually labeled by genre and mood, like "Alt Rock Casual," "Urban Laid Back," and "Classical Epic Choir." Then there are usually a few variations of each theme - featuring different lengths and different "mixout" versions with or without certain instrumentation.

What's difficult is identifying a specific piece of production music. Determining what mix of what piece from what production music library can be next to impossible. And then there's the matter of obtaining the music. Most production music companies do not make their music available to the public, and only sell or lease their music to audio/video production houses and producers of film, radio, and TV.

If you swear you've heard the piece before, you're probably right. Production music libraries can be licensed to several production companies, and any particular piece could have been used in hundreds of possible applications.

If you've gotten this far in your search only to be linked to this post, don't be discouraged! In the words of philosopher Carl Jung, "...if a man does not know what a thing is, it is at least an increase in knowledge if he knows what it is not."

May we suggest being prepared to compromise. Ask yourself, "What other piece does this sound like?" and "What mood does this piece set and what other, more common pieces set the same mood?"

Happy hunting!

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