In addition to producing the Night of the Living Dead documentary Autopsy of the Dead, Jim Cirronella produced the definitive soundtrack release of the stock music culled and edited into the film by director George Romero.

In Part 2 of our conversation, Cirronella discusses the production of the CD, and he provides details of the long-gone Capitol Hi-Q music library, whose music was used in TV as well as feature films, such as The Incredible Petrified World (1957) and Teenagers from Outer Space (1959).





Mark R. Hasan: How did the CD release of the Capitol Hi-Q stock music used in NOTLD come to be?


Jim Cirronella: I was always interested in the music, and [a compilation CD had never been done before]. Even getting into Capitol Hi-Q music, there’s not a whole lot known about it. There’s no history that you can find anywhere; it has been written about, but not in any great length.

Capitol Hi-Q is a huge part of American culture. It brought production music in from many different sources – European composers and so forth – but that music is embedded in the psyche of a lot of people that grew up in that era. It’s a reference point for a lot of people because it was used on so many productions. That kind of orchestrated mood music just resonates with a lot of people.

At the most, maybe 50% of the music from NOTLD was put out; it’s very mysterious [because] they just tacked a lot of composer names to it, and there was never any kind of further research. There was even some erroneous information put out there for one reason or another (some of it deliberate), so I felt that stuff needs to be cleared up. I think we need to have a better idea of where this music came from, why it was used, and how it was used



MRH: With the Capitol Hi-Q library, I didn’t know that it was established by David Rose and William Loose, the latter recognizable to fans of Russ Meyer films.


Jim Cirronella: The way Capitol Hi-Q worked (and this is kind of hazy), is that for some of the people at Capitol, this whole idea of a production library was becoming a popular thing. It was good business because it allowed a lot of low-budget productions (especially TV) ... [to] pick from all this music, and get it at a relatively inexpensive cost.

Some of the main players at Capitol had this idea to go into production music, which they called Capitol Custom Music or something along those lines. They had a division for it... and it was John Seely and William Loose who... were going to center it around a package of material that they were buying from a composer named David Rose, and the catch was that he had to sell it outright; there would be no royalties, he would get no credit, and they were going to pay him good money for that.

I guess there was some contention, maybe from the other people at Capitol, that this was not worth the money that was being paid for this, but they felt it was, and so they went ahead and did it anyways. From what I understand, even John Seely financed it himself, and the other part of that equation was that William Loose was going to write just as much material, and they would package this complete thing as the Theme Craft Label, or whatever you want to call it.

Capitol Hi-Q used different codes and names for various packages of music, and that’s how they put everything together, and that’s how they could determine where the royalties went. They were buying all this stuff royalty-free [from composers], and they would be the ones that would be credited, and they would be the ones that would receive payments when this stuff was used. That was the business model they decided to go with.

It’s not an original business model (there were other libraries doing the same thing), but this one was being done in America, and it ended up being so big because they started getting other music packages that they would represent and pay the royalties out to, so this encompassed a huge amount of music over time.


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