by John Pellegrini
All that is old is new again, to paraphrase Ecclesiastes. Hip and trendy are another way to describe recycled. The old musical genres of long ago are now the hot new thing. Every generation “discovers” some previous generation’s favorites and makes it their own. Note the resurgence in popularity of swing music. Everyone is jitterbugging their way across the world. Can the Charleston and the Foxtrot have their day again, too? What about the Waltz or the Minuet? Nostalgia is always big business, and if you’re looking for a music library that can bring you a massive number of different musical styles and elements of the past, then The Evergreen Library from Valentino just might be what you’re looking for.
Valentino Production Music and Sound Effects Inc. has been around since 1932. They started out supplying sound effects to the radio and movie industry and the early days of television. They branched into production music libraries as the need grew. They’ve supplied music for the scores of some well known movies ranging from The Blob to King of Comedy to Saturday Nite Fever to Friday 13th Part 3, and some of your favorite TV shows over the years including many current shows like The Simpsons, Saturday Nite Live, Conan O’Brien, Kids in the Hall, and Malcom in the Middle. In addition, they are the only production music company to have won a Grammy Award (for the song “A Fifth of Beethoven” from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack—yep, that was their work).
For this review, I’m going over their Evergreen Music Library which is their single biggest music library at 113 CDs. They sent me all 113. It’s also their oldest library with musical styles from the 1700s through the 1990s. That’s a huge amount of styles to cover. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to audition every single track, that’s nearly 3,000 of them for those of you interested in numbers. One minor snafu; they supplied the catalog for the Valentino Production Library which is entirely different from the Evergreen Library. No problem, however, as I just went to their Web Site, tvmusic.com, where you can download your own copy of the catalog. Warning: the Evergreen Catalog is 180 pages of Adobe Acrobat text. You may not want to do this yourself, unless you need it.
Valentino promotes “Evergreen” as a “professional Film, TV, and Radio production library with huge depth in styles, moods, and genres that other libraries don’t provide.” But if you ask me, it’s really a library for people who are in desperate need of authentic period music. Yes, they do have some contemporary tracks here, but the real strength of this library is the old sounding tracks. Now, before you say “I don’t need that much period music,” consider this: How many times do you find yourself looking for a bit of music that will perfectly match a scene in a theater of the mind piece that you wrote? How many times do you find yourself wishing you had a minuet for a George Washington President’s day sale spoof? Or a bit of music representing Abraham Lincoln? What about that swing music for your local nightclub, by the way? Or a bebop piece from the 1950s? Or some weird “Outer Limits” style science fiction music? A “Leave It To Beaver” type bed? Cheesy Detective shows? Hippie Musical numbers? A St. Patty’s Day track right out of The Quiet Man era? Patriotic Marches from the Civil War up to the Kennedys? A Superhero parody? German Polkas? Classical music from composers like Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and others? Spanish Bullfights? Shakespearean spoof? Safari on the African Veldt for a Hemingway style piece? How many times a week are you searching for that “just right” piece of music that can set fire to the theater of the mind script you’ve written? If the answer is more than a few times a week, then Evergreen just might have the kind of stuff you’re looking for.
Yes, many of the tracks are old, but what an air of authenticity they have! You can close your eyes and put yourself right there on the big NBC or CBS radio soundstages with Bob Hope, Burns and Allen, or Orson Welles, and see the fun happening. Or, go the other route and imagine yourself standing with Mel Blanc and Stan Freberg voicing cartoon characters. You’ll find yourself thinking up scenes in your head as you listen to these tracks. Whether it’s for commercial use, promo use, morning show bit usage, or any number of other theater of the mind needs, if you’re looking for authentic sounding moods and styles, Evergreen has tons of it.
I wouldn’t recommend Evergreen as the only library you should have, especially if you work in modern rock formats. But it would be a good additional library to have for all the nostalgia and authentic period pieces it contains. For just two thousand dollars a year on a license agreement (no barter) you can have 113 discs of the widest range of old theater of the mind music tracks, jazz, blues, country, classical, easy listening, pops, gospel, international, etc. that you can find anywhere. Of course, if you work at a classical or nostolgia format station, this is your library all right.
Valentino has a very helpful website, as I mentioned previously, at www.tvmusic.com where you can even order the library and license agreement, and download samples and the catalogs. You can also audition their other music library and sound effect libraries. You can even browse their website in German, French or Spanish, should you desire. Their toll free number is (800) 223-6278. Outside the U.S call (914) 347-7878.