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Underscore - Secrets of Successful Soundtracks
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What you should know about your production BEFORE you add a music soundtrack
What you should know about your production BEFORE
you add a music soundtrack
Too often choosing the right track from a music
library is like hacking your way through overgrown
jungle with no map and no sense of direction. It's
a time-intensive, hit-or-miss process that requires
listening to multitudes of the wrong selections.
After a while your brain becomes numb and everything
blends together and sounds the same. To further
complicate things, you're often searching for music
right at the project deadline so there is pressure
to find tracks fast.
The fastest way to find the right soundtrack for your
work is to first identify the underlying feeling -
the emotional thrust - of your production.
Many project creators only think about what
STYLE of music they want (i.e. rock, Techno).
A better way to proceed is to look for music based
on the emotional character of your work. When you know
your project's emotional themes, you will cut an
incredible amount of time from your search.
DISTILL YOUR PROJECT DOWN TO ITS EMOTIONAL BASE.
This is what film composers do. After meeting with
the director to discuss the film's meaning and
concept, the composer immerses him/herself into the
film and begins to investigate its emotional
You can do the same thing. Here is a simple
exercise to try with your own work.
- See yourself in each scene as an eyewitness
to what is happening
- Become emotionally open to the events that occur.
- Freewrite your reactions. (Freewriting is writing
that's done quickly without any self-editing - you
just want to get your ideas on paper in a way that
- After the production is over, take your
freewriting and look for 1-5 keyword phrases that best
describe the emotion(s) of what you've experienced.
This technique will work just as well for a 15
second Flash animation as an hour-length video
documentary. In each case you want to understand
the emotion at the heart of your project so you can
choose music that elevates your viewer's experience.
Here's an example of the process...
Let's say you're giving a 2 hour talk on "Better
Time Management" and you want some background music
to use in your PowerPoint at the beginning, end, and
during the break.
You do the exercise above and here is a sample of
...better time management = organization,
productivity, structure...getting things done
a sense of being in control,- order - stress free
living, flow, mind like water...
To derive your emotional keywords from this, look at
the benefits of features like productivity and
Benefit of productivity - accomplishment
Getting things done - satisfaction, freedom,
Organization/Order - peace, harmony, well-being
Now begin searching the music libraries listening
for music that highlights feelings of satisfaction,
freedom, that gives a sense of peace, harmony,
Remember, you're still not locked into any specific
musical style, you're searching for music that will
adequately speak to the emotional content of your
On the UniqueTracks web site we have sorted every
track in our library by its corresponding emotional
keywords. If you need a track to underscore the
feeling of "satisfaction" or "peace", all you have
to do is click a link and you'll be presented with a
listing of all the tracks in our library that
correspond to those feelings.
Click this link to try it yourself -
Once you know the feeling you are looking for,
finding the right track becomes much easier because
through the process of drilling down to the
emotional core of your work you have already
filtered out most of the music choices that don't
apply. You have narrowed your search, created a
map, and a way to avoid getting lost in the
production music jungle.
John Bickerton is the owner of UniqueTracks Royalty Free Music. He also publishes Underscore, the UniqueTracks monthly e-newsletter. Subscribe and receive 12 Free Rhythm Loops and Grooves, fully-licensed for use in your productions. http://www.uniquetracks.com/Newsletter.htm