The short answer is .... choose what you like!
And that's about it.
Ok, maybe it's not really that simple, right?
Let's talk about it.
But first, please consider that nothing - and I mean NOTHING - can replace your taste, your emotional response to your own production. Here's the deal:
If you feel a connection with the music, and if you see a connection between the music and your video, chances are that your viewers will feel it and see it too.
Now, enough philosophy.
Let's get to some real advice, shall we?
No matter what video you are producing, chances are that you want some flexibility in your music. You want music that will provide a variety of "moods", so that you can use different sections of the music tracks that match different sections of your video.
As an example, listen to this track:
This is a relatively short track, and yet it provides at least 4 different kinds of "musical atmospheres".
Here they are:
1. At the very beginning, in the intro (second 0 to 10). Very sparse and abstract. The message is: THINGS ARE ABOUT TO HAPPEN
2. Between sec 10 and 45, more rhythmic and animated.
The message is: THINGS ARE HAPPENING
3. Between sec 45 and 1 minute, sparse but still rhythmic.
The message is: THINGS MIGHT BE CHANGING SOON
4. Between 1 min and 1m17, sparse and mysterious.
The message is: WE ARE EXPECTING SOMETHING DIFFERENT
5. The final section, where gradually the original theme is taken to full completion. This is the RESOLUTION, this is HOW THE STORY DEVELOPS and ENDS.
You get the idea.
Now, this is a short, simple but quite effective track.
It provides lots of production flexibility in such a short time.
That's a good thing.
2. STYLISTIC CONSISTENCY
We shouldn't mistake flexibility with inconsistency.
The track above provides flexibility, but without losing at any moment its "style", its musical identity.
This is very important.
You want flexibility, but you don't want to confuse or distract your viewers with too much musical change. Stylistic consistency is usually a very good idea.
So, what is it really?
- melodic themes
- choice of sounds and instruments
- general "atmosphere" of the track
In general, to maintain a good stylistic consistency, you don't want a track that uses too many different melodies, too many different sounds and instruments, or where the atmosphere changes too dramatically.
Now: let me give you an example of another longer track, which could be used in a sci-fi kind of movies, or any video about adventure, innovation and discoveries.
Notice how the mood changes but the style remains pretty consistent, even though there are some changes in melodies, sounds and arrangement. It's called MARS AND BEYOND
In this track you can recognize at least 5 different "moods", or "sections", or "episodes" of the story:
- 0 sec to 1min 30 sec: the main theme is established. It's the DEPARTURE
- 1min 30 sec to 2min 22 sec : a new theme appears, but not to different. It's the JOURNEY
- 2min 22 sec to 3min 05 sec : a new section, it creates expectation. It's the APPROACH (to something new)
- 3 min 05 sec to 3min 50 : first theme is here again, but very different atmoshpere. More poeaceful, serene. It's the ARRIVAL
- 3 min 50 sec to 5min 35 sec : new theme, we gradually find something new, something beautiful, little by little. It's the DISCOVERY
- 5 min 35 sec to end: first theme is back again, but now it's about CLOSURE
Again, lots of different moods, stories, atmospheres. Lots of flexibility in one track, but the same consistent style, from start to finish.
By balance we mean that video and music should work together to keep the viewer interested and engaged, but not distracted or overwhelmed.
It's quite simple, actually.
Two main things:
1. If your video contains a voiceover or people speaking
- most likely you don't want music with a vocal track, as it could distract the viewer from the video content.
- it's probably better to avoid music with a strong melodic line played by some instrument if you have spoken content in the video. Especially lead instruments with a high pitch can be quite distracting.
- you probably want a "no lead" or "bed" version of a music track, one that provides a background without interfering with the spoken content
2. If your video does not contain voiceover or people speaking
- it's probably a good idea to have music that contributes to the interest of the video, music that will make people remember the video in a more pleasant way.
- so, you probably want music to be more memorable, with a vocal part or a clear, pleasant lead melody played by instruments
To sum up.
More often than not, you want to find a balance between the focal elements of the music and the focal elements of the video.
If you have too many focal points, chances are that the viewer will be distracted or overwhelmed.
If you don't have focal points, chances are that your viewer will be bored.
Music should support the video (the opposite may be also true, sometimes), and both should support the viewers' engagement.
These are NOT strict rules, of course. They are just general indications. Alsways follow your instinct and don't be afraid to go against the common wisdom. But always have a clear goal in mind.
Just one more thing. But VERY important.
This is quite obvious, and yet not so easy to achieve.
You want coherence between the story your video is trying to tell, and the "atmoshpere" that the music creates.
Sounds obvious, right?
But it can be much more subtle than you think.
It's not just about the overall general mood of the music .
It's about coherence between video and music while the story develops, so that the music "matches" that particular scene or emotion or narrative that the video is trying to convey.
Here's a truly beautiful example:
Notice how the music is stylistcally consistent from beginning to end.
Notice how it goes very well with the general atmosphere of the video.
Notice how the sparseness of the music allows to clearly hear the environmental sounds, that are very important in this case.
And, most of all, notice how you have a subtle but very effective change in mood conveyed by the music (surprise, something unexpected happening ) at 1.06 and then another change (gentle happiness) at 1.15.
The video is SO effective because of the way music and story complement each other.
Remember, the most engaging videos are the ones that tell a story.
And music can greatly contribute to storytelling
(or it can destroy it ... if it's not used properly)
Final words of wisdom:
USE GOOD BACKGROUND MUSIC
THAT HELPS YOU TELLING YOUR STORY
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