By John Pellegrini
Production Garden is a great success story in an industry dominated by well-known established names. In business for just over 10 years, they’ve grown from a first library of five discs to ten full libraries and two hundred CDs of specialized production music. Not just for radio, Production Garden music is being used in video, film, cable, Internet and web design, government and educational projects.
Now Production Garden has taken their four most popular and comprehensive libraries and put them into one package. The libraries are Metro, Manchester, Music Street, and MSE, hence the name for the collection, 4M. This means you can have up to 100 CDs of full production music in a huge variety of styles. All of the CDs contain real instrument recordings instead of synthesized or computerized programmed music, and the majority of the CDs are the most current (recorded within the last 48 months) in the Production Garden catalog.
For this review I received 20 sample CDs from the four different libraries. Music Street starts it off with 12 total CDs (updates on the way) of great sounding beds. According to Production Garden’s info, these beds are specially underscored for voice-over work. Listening to the CDs, I agree. The music is hip with plenty of punch, but not overwhelming. If you prefer production where the voice and the message are king, then you’ll find these beds respecting that mission. Volume 5, “New Guitar Highway” has a great variety of tracks from some great folk guitar, beds with drums, bass, piano, and organ that has plenty of kick, to hip-hop beats—not laid back at all, but not overwhelming either. Volume 6, “Promo Place” also has a great variety of tracks with a bit more energy. Volume 7, “News Place” is full of great sounding news beds including some that are perfect for international and world news reports. And the tracks on Volume 12, “Funky Bluesy Street” sound like they were recorded just last week in a Beale Street studio in Memphis, or on the Chicago South Side. Each disc in the Music Street library features 3 versions of each track: :60; :30; and :12-:10.
MSE, or Manchester Special Edition, features many of New York’s finest session musicians, the “first call” players for jingle and film producers. These CDs are completely distinct and separate from the Manchester Library that we’ll get into next. MSE is comprised of 7 CDs featuring a wide variety of styles. I received Volume 2, Rock Styles, Volume 4 Midtempo Retail, and Volume 5, Contemporary Grooves. Rock Styles has plenty of punchy hard electric guitar driven tracks, from metal to R&B to southern rock, grunge, and hard blues. Midtempo Retail is just like the name implies, relaxed light rock especially perfect for department store or lifestyle emphasis (tracks with names like “Soccer Mom,” “Fashion Plate,” and “Island Hopping” really help set the mental picture). Contemporary Grooves offers edgy rhythm tracks and in your face hyper rock.
Manchester Music Library (named for producer/composer John Manchester) is a 21 volume library with a range from authentic blues and swing to hip-hop, news/promo, alternative, classical… you name it, it’s in there. All discs contain long form tracks (over 2 minutes), :60, :30, and :10 edits, and some underscore versions. Each CD has a tray card with excellent descriptions of each track. Five CDs were sent to me, MAN013 Guitars 1: Rock & Electric Blues has some kick ass tracks. MAN015 Renaissance 2000 features a mix of big orchestration tracks along with rock, techno, and pop tracks. MAN017 Dark Drama is the kind of theater of the mind music every producer wants for wild production. From “Batman” sounding tracks to Alfred Hitchcock type music, this is the disc for the budding movie director in every production person. MAN019 Techno Grooves is full of good beat music that can fill numerous emotions. And MAN020 High Energy is another disc for those with the movie director’s ears.
Last, but in no way least, is Metro, a 49 CD library that hits hard and moves fast. I received 9 CDs to audition, and unfortunately, there isn’t enough space for me to get into details on each of the discs. Suffice to say that the stuff in here kicks ass. Each disc contains full long forms, :60, :30, and :10 edits of each track plus a :60 background or underscore version. Production Garden says the musicians are in-demand session players who’ve worked with people like the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton. It’s all real instruments, no pretend computer generated stuff here at all. There are also two CDs available with some of the hotter tracks of the collection (see their website for more info on that feature).
20 CDs is a lot of music to listen to, yet I heard no repeats. Each disc was well done and there were a lot of interesting things happening. I’m glad at least that they didn’t send the full 100. Otherwise, I’d probably still be listening to this on Arbor Day. Production Garden promises update CDs too, so burn out factor is a long way off here.
As I mentioned up front, the full 4M library is 100 CDs, but you can custom order as many CDs as you want. Production Garden is a license agreement only, no barter. They have a very helpful website at www.productiongarden.com which gives full details of all the music available in all their libraries (10 full libraries, remember), and you can download mp3 demos in a variety of playback formats. Or you can call for all the details toll free at 1-800-247-5317 (USA only. International calls go to 210-530-5200).