A Love of Retro Production Library Music

So, as May brings us the end of another school year, and I was reminded by a friend of mine who is about to graduate film school what a mad rush it was to finish your opus before finals. I really cherish my days back at the University Of Miami Motion Picture Program.

Back in 1995, we were still cutting 16mm workprint on 6 plate flatbeds. The plates refers to the actual amount of platters that sat on the flatbed. So, if you had a six plate, it meant you could put on one film track (two plates = a feed and a take-up) and two audio tracks (the other four plates).

Now, as you cut your film, you would generally have more than two audio tracks because there would be dialogue, music and sound effects. HOWEVER you could only cut with two magnetic tracks — so you would edit your dialogue tracks and then once you had those edited, you would take them off the flatbed and put on your music and eventually sound effects mag and work with those. Eventually, once those were edited, you’d spool them all up on an interlock system that had a projector and several dubbers. You would line up all the marks on each dubber, turn on the motor and — in a sound not too dissimilar from the T.A.R.D.I.S. — the motor would get all the dubbers and projector up to speed and you would mix that tracks down to one track.

These days, the kids get to do that all on an AVID, Premiere or Final Cut Pro using Pro-Tools or Logic to mix. They have no idea how good they have it.

Anyway, one of my favorite parts of the post production process was composing music for my films. Now, I wrote a lot of music in film school, however sometimes I would want to pull something from our school’s music library. And man, did we have the most AWESOME music library. It had been donated to us by some closed film production company in Miami and it was LOADED with great KPM and Music De’Wolfe discs. These were the classics from the 70s. The stuff that Tarantino would drool over and uses today. Tons of raw percussion, Moog-ish synth jams, lush strings, walls of sound and all around groovy tunes.

(In fact, libraries like Music De Wolfe were responsible for a majority of the music in Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead. And those tracks were made available a few years ago to purchase. Well worth it if you are a lover of the movie. I even know people who hunted down the original albums to get all the tracks.)

So, my film school chums and I used to fire up the record player in our school’s mix theater and pour through the hundreds of vinyl’s we had – jamming out to the tunes and acting out scenes to the music. You know, stuff cool kids do.

And when I left school, I took it upon myself to grab one of my favorite discs. I recently pulled it out, ripped a track and have posted for your enjoyment – the creepy roller rink anthem, Banana Split.

And you can learn more about the entire album here.

Patrick J. Doody

Patrick J. Doody is a horror nerd and Mexican Pepsi enthusiast living in Los Angeles.He writes movies and makes TV shows. Check out his latest endeavor, Beyond Stranger Things streaming on Netflix.

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