The Most Heard, Least Known Composers In America
January 26, 2016Posted by on
Whew! 2015 was the hottest year on record. And things really heated up as well for all of us here at Stephen Arnold Music with new, exciting musical branding projects for some top corporations, news and sports networks and live attractions.
Successful branding is all about making emotional connections. Music is the fastest way to evoke an emotional response, and the most efficient way for a brand to associate itself with those responses. We call it “sonic branding.” And in today’s highly mobile and social media context, consumers are more apt to share messages and content that make them feel something. Music acts as the emotional “glue” that helps bind people together.
A great example is the new theme song we created for the MeTV Network. It’s an addictive, modern spin on swing music tied to the tag line ”That’s Memorable, That’s Me.” Once you see the pictures with the words, it make an indelible impression, compelling you to watch the great TV shows on MeTV that we all grew up with. It’s an infectious, fun campaign, and we loved working on it. Take a listen:
The gripping, real-life drama portrayed in the CNBC show “Shark Tank” can really get your blood boiling, and it needs a high-energy audio formula to help drive viewers to watch it. We put together a funky, rhythm-driven track with original “Shark Tank Nation” lyrics to help get the party started. It’s another terrific example of the music matching and driving the intense, competitive nature of the show’s brand. We think you’ll agree:
Politics seem to be on EVERYONE’S minds these days…including ours! To help launch the “State of the Union” program with Jake Tapper, CNN came to us once again looking for a bold, confident musical signature and theme. This new show interviews top newsmakers on policy and politics, so it needed some audio “gravitas” to help establish credibility. It became a great opportunity to blend live orchestration, modern percussion and guitars into a compelling and memorable theme, helping shape the show’s new identity for viewers. Listen up:
2015 also marked the launch of some new cable channels, including “Decades Television Network.” They needed some solid sonic branding. We were more than happy to provide them with an extensive musical package based on a 4-note sonic logo. It became a lush, multi-style collection, giving the network a wide range of themes around which they could promote their unique blend of entertainment and history. Check it out:
Sometimes you just can’t afford a brand-new, custom piece of music, but need something dramatic and memorable right now. ESPN Deptortes found an existing track on our production library, “The Vault” to promote the 2015 Pan Am Games. It’s big, bold…and it’s beautiful:
Sometimes you just need a new musical theme to appeal to a billion people. That’s right – one BILLION! Well, China Central Television International (CCTV) has a worldwide audience that size. This was a fascinating and massive project, involving rebranding their five international channels. Now THAT’s a big job! But we were up to it, composing themes for CCTV’s English, French (African), Spanish, Russian and Arabic audiences. Want sonic brand variety? You’ll find it right here:
Hey, it’s not ALL about TV! One of the more exciting projects we tackled this year was for “Philly From the Top”, a fun, experiential 57 floor elevator ride to the One Liberty Building observation deck. During the trip and at the top, riders are exposed to the fascinating story of the history of Philadelphia through visuals, sounds and special effects. We created the sound design for each area of the attraction. It was great fun, as SAM audio gurus Paul West, Whitney Arnold and Jesus Garcia made several trips to Philly to oversee the audio implementation. It was a unique chance to create sonic branding and musical content in a completely new environment for us. Though it’s not as cool as being there, you can sample it here:
it’s been a big year, right? And we’re working on more exciting projects for 2016 right now. The science and artistry of creating memorable audio experiences has always fascinated us. Just try and imagine the soundtrack of your life without the memorable music that accompanies it in your mind. It’s powerful. It’s pervasive. It’s indelible. And it’s what we do everyday here at Stephen Arnold Music.
View the 2015 Stephen Arnold Music montage here:
Right-Handed Lefties and Left-Handed Righties…My obsession with Hendrix and upside down Stratocasters
November 4, 2015Posted by on
As many of you know, Jimi Hendrix was left-handed, but played a right-handed Fender Stratocaster – turned upside down! I’ve always been fascinated with not only the sound of Hendrix on that right-handed upside-down Strat, but with the way it looked as well. There’s something about the whammy bar on top and the tuners on the bottom. I was really intrigued, so number of years ago I bought a righty Strat, turned it upside-down and restrung it. This was definitely the closest I’d ever come to sounding like Hendrix! I even had a friend “distress” it to make it look like it was 50+ years old, and went so far as to put cigarette burns on the headstock. (see me with my Strat below)
Well, I never actually knew what made his distinctive sound so unique. Then I ran across this article in Popular Mechanics magazine about how flipping and restringing a standard right-handed Fender Stratocaster fundamentally changes the string tension and microphone location. That’s what produced Hendrix’s signature mix of bright highs and delicate lows.
Here are the highlights:
- The rear pickup on the traditional Stratocaster is intentionally slanted – capturing the higher strings near their base – where they have a more piercing tone. On Hendrix’s guitar, it catches the higher strings farther up, so instead of shrieking, they sing.
- Guitar pickups are mini-microphones, with a pole magnet aligned below each string. And the distance between the magnet and the string varies for each string. But by reversing the orientation of the traditional Stratocaster, Hendrix changed which strings were closest to their magnets, and consequently, most prominent in the mix. Pretty crazy stuff.
- Conversely, Hendrix’s low strings were comparatively tighter, which made them sound less booming and twangy.
- On a traditional Strat, the highest strings (E, B) are the longest. When turned upside-down, they become the shortest, so they don’t have to be pulled as tightly to be in tune. For Hendrix, that made them easier to bend, like on “All Along the Watchtower.”
- Fender’s headstock design makes every string a different length, so restringing the guitar upside-down changed which strings were longest. This altered the subtle overtones produced by vibrations on the unplayed part of the string above the top of the neck, near the tuning keys.
What’s really amazing is that I doubt Hendrix ever thought about any of this. He just had a tough time finding a decent left-handed guitar, especially back in the day. So Instead, he snagged a cool Strat , flipped it over, restrung it, and ta-da! The rest is history.
August 17, 2015Posted by on
We here at SAM can’t resist having fun with music – in all its forms. Now we’re doing it again with the latest in our series of limited edition vinyl releases.
Behold our latest creation, “What’s Printed Where.”
What’s the deal?
Well, take a clear vinyl record that you can see through. Next, slip it into a transparent sleeve with a yellow image, then slide that sleeve into an album cover which is also clear, but with a blue image, and voila – it’s green!
You are now looking at a very cool LP fresh off the press from SAM – our 3rd generation sample reel – which isn’t really a reel but a vinyl record (hint: usually works best with a turntable.)
Thus our newest Stephen Arnold Music Vinyl is appropriately titled “What’s Printed Where,” since we never really knew what was going to be printed where.
The fun part is when you first receive your LP, you’ll notice the revamped image of our original sonically branded lady: a girl with a shaved head whom we have always internally referred to as “Mary.” Once again Mary is on our new vinyl, only now she’s green with red ear buds.
But once you pull the sleeve from the LP cover, it turns out our Mary is actually blue…but in fact on the sleeve she’s yellow. Confused? We are too! So let’s all roll with it – because if you reassemble the sleeve out of sequence, you may well see Mary in a totally different light (color, that is).
And as a special bonus, you’ll notice a credit card that we’ve slipped into the LP jacket and, depending on how rough the mail service was and where the card ends up inside the cover…. this card could be green, blue or yellow – until you pull it out and see it’s actually white.
And actually, it’s not a free credit card (sorry!) but a flash drive with all the music contained on the vinyl — for those of you that have retired your turntables. It’s music from our amazing partners we are privileged to work with like CNN, Golf Channel, CCTV China, ABC, ESPN, MSNBC, FOX Business, National Geographic Channel, Time Warner and over 300 local television stations.
Know what’s printed where now? If not, just listen: It’ll all make sense to your ears. And Kudos to Doug Rucker and his amazing team at Rucker and Co. in Dallas for creating something which is nothing short of creative genius. http://www.ruckerandco.com
To request your free LP just click on the email link below. It’s that easy!
Or give us a call at:
We look forward to hearing from you!
June 9, 2015Posted by on
If you are attending the conference at The Mirage in Las Vegas, then stop by our special Promax guitar display — you’ll see some amazing legendary guitars from Stephen’s personal collection that are featured in his book, A Story of Six Strings.
We’ll also be giving away a collectible Gibson Les Paul signed by the legendary Les Paul.
So make plans to stop by, have a chat, drop your card in the box and maybe walk away with a classic, signed guitar. The drawing is Thursday, June 25 around 4:15pm, immediately after “The Next News Industry” session lets out. Remember, you must be present to win.
Thursday night, don’t miss our 5th annual “After Hours SAM JAM,” featuring the sensational Byron Bordaux. This year we’ll be jammin’ at V Bar at The Venetian along with our many station friends from across the country from 9 until 11pm!
Good luck and hope to see you kickin’ it with us in Vegas … baby!
February 6, 2015Posted by on
A big congrats to station KCAU with their winning video entry “Sioux City Musketeers Intro Video 2014”. You are now the proud owners of one of my favorite and treasured guitars: a 1980 Gibson Les Paul Custom signed by Les Paul!
This has been a really fun contest for us at SAM, and we are excited to have received so many entries, such enthusiasm and thousands of votes. It’s been great to see what amazing creative is being produced by our friends and colleagues at local stations. Really cool. While there is only one winner, I think we can all be inspired by seeing all these great spots!
We want to thank everyone for their participation in our first “What’s the Sound of Your Story” contest. And I want to say “good-bye” to my guitar.
You can view all local station video entries here: