Film music has become an important branch of music culture – soundtrack albums have topped the charts, and the occasions where I encountered music from LOTR, Harry Potter or “Pirates of the Carribean” outside of a movie environment have been countless. The reason is simple: Although it’s not their original purpose, great film scores usually make for great solo pieces as well, and being used in blockbuster movies they reach huge audiences.
Most moviegoers are aware that the right music can really make the difference. It can turn a good scene into something great or change the mood completely. This is true not only for long films with big orchestral scores, but also for any kind of video, be it short films, commercials or animations. Whether you are creating a video for a client on veed.me or working on your own project, the question of choosing music will come up (and is often not easily answered).
If you’ve ever created music for videos, you know how complicated than can be. The music can’t be pushy to a degree that it draws attention away from the spoken or visual content, yet it can’t be too repetitive or monotonous. Finding the right balance can be a true challenge.
So what’s the right approach? Here are 5 steps that might guide you through the process:
Find out exactly what your client wants! What’s the mood you should create, what message does the video have? How energetic should it be? Are you promoting a new product? What’s the target group?
Before you come up with a specific melody or chord progression, find out what sound you’re looking for! Have an idea about tempo, rhythm and what instruments you might use.
3Play around! Find a basic pattern you can work with, create one example part (e.g. 8 bars) that you can loop and build variations of. Work on that part, add instruments, make it sound the way it should.
4Find the turning points! Look for moments in the video that might be appropriate for (or require) a change regarding rhythm, mood, volume, instruments… See how that works out with the rhythm/structure of your music.
Keep it interesting! Sometimes just adding or taking out instruments does the trick, sometimes you might have to change the melody, insert a break, an interesting turnaround, or come up with an interlude that’s different from everything else. Remember: We get used to things really fast. That bassline might sound really awesome the moment it comes in, but it’ll lose that freshness after it’s been repeated a few times…
Always keep in mind
that you’re doing much more than just adding some flavour in the background – be bold, and play with expectations! Just because someone’s crying doesn’t mean there have to be strings in the background. One example I particularly like is from the last Harry Potter movie: After Harry finds out he must die, the music stops and we see him sitting all by himself for more than 15 seconds accompanied by – nothing. Total silence. Now that’s some creative film scoring right there!