Music can make or break a film, corporate or even a commercial. It can overpower it if it’s wrong, convey the wrong message with an ill-fitting mood or worse still, completely ruin it!
Remember, the primary function of a score or jingle is to enhance the already existing emotion. This can be a daunting job for both the composer, or whoever is choosing the soundtrack, whether it’s a well-known piece, or a library track.
A dreaded job for some creative directors and editors and yet others choose to start with a piece of music as their stimulus. Music can add such a powerful dimension to any visual production, including the initial ideas process.
In fact, chatting with many of my regular clients recently they told me that they prefer to begin the listening and choosing process right from the outset, both creative concept or storyboard. They create several playlists, to ‘feel’ which style conveys the mood they’re looking for.
However, get it wrong at this stage, and the music may take you down the wrong path altogether.
It is important that YOU like the music you choose (wherever possible), but the most important thing is that its style fits the message or product it’s connected with. It must connect with your target audience. Simply put, don’t choose hardcore Dubstep, if you’re trying to sell walking sticks, unless you deliberately use it for comedy effect…try not to offend!
Music branding, especially in advertising is as important as it always has been. Songs, jingles, sonic stings or background music stick in people’s minds, it’s how they identify and associate with a brand, when using their ears! Therefore, it is vitally important that your music choice perfectly suits the brand or message. Remember, “Music is what feelings sound like”.
All that said, your intention maybe to provoke a reaction – good or bad. Ultimately this will get people talking and debating, even arguing over it…”how annoying is the music on the latest ?*!@* Frog advert?” This means that it’s provoked some form of reaction, therefore keeping the music and more importantly, the brand in their minds. Be careful though, this approach has to be seriously considered.
The function of music can be many things...
Introduce and set the tone, or close the production to give your audience a feeling of completion. Use this method to divide your video into segments to hold the viewers attention.
Any type of track can be used to convey time passing, but it’s usually a ‘featured’ track, as opposed to background music. This musical function is very handy, as it can be used in so many different ways, either for a montage; re-cap of recent events; planning ahead as part of the plot or message; or a literal jump in time, either back or forwards. This type of track maybe used when a character, for example has gone to bed.
Picture the scene…
Time-lapse camera – the sun goes down to reveal a star-studded night sky. Stars are racing across the sky, as the earth turns, until the dawning sun finally bursts into life and morning has arrived. It is also useful for depicting much longer periods of passing time, which would in many circumstances be difficult and long-winded to explain.
Often, the technique used is for the vision to fade, the “passage of time” track creeps in (possibly an on-screen reference as to how long we are jumping to the future or past). It then merges into the new scene, or on fact becomes the music for that next scene. One final use to mention, is within the theatre medium, where it’s perhaps better known as scene change music, to allow time for the set to change, whilst keeping the audience engaged or excited in anticipation of the next scene or act.
More help on choosing the right music for the job is coming up in part 2 of this article.