At some point, it doesn’t matter how good your video quality and script writing gets if your background music – the glue between all the shots – is anything short of a perfect fit. In all of this great writing, music takes a larger front seat than it may appear at first glance. Let’s look at elements of music selection to consider when producing an original video for your company.
Video as Story
The dual physical mediums we deal with in video content production are audio and video. Each medium has a role in conveying a story that engages the viewer. There are other elements that go into this kind of engagement, but for our purposes, we are just going to look at the “story.”
I’ve been a songwriter for over 15 years. In that time, I’ve collaborated on, contributed to, produced, performed, and mixed music in a litany of different scenarios. In working on a recent video for a client, I realized how much I enjoy sequencing a video like a song. There are arcs, overlaps, direction, suspense, release – all the elements of a good story. I have looked at the storylines that are built into songs for as long as I can remember. It was a turning point to consider all of the elements that go into a video as a story.
There are plenty of better instructions of good story writing itself, so I’m just going to focus on what music has to do with stories. In video, music helps to elicit a mood. The same can be said of the color temperature of a video image; also with the duration of, and transition between, individual shots on-screen. These are bare elements that can all work towards eliciting a mood.
Music as Story
All music happens over time. Conveniently, all videos also happen over time. Most importantly, stories also happen over time. It begins to make sense to create a story arc in any medium that is designed to unfold over time. A statue may always be a statue, but a song doesn’t get performed exactly the same way night after night. There is always anticipation built into the song – as with a story.
From this view, begin to think about what role you want music to play in your video. Does it develop the story of the visuals on the screen? If using lyrics, do they say what you want them to say?
Music as Mood
If you took out the lyrics to some of your favorite songs, you will probably shift your attention to how much else is going on besides just being able to sing-along. There are selections being made at many levels at once. That power and those selections are what make music a powerful mood-setting element in video production.
Music can make you money as fast as it can make you sweat. It can set the tone and pace for any event, activity or a video (or video segment). It can excite a buyer or calm a child. You must decide what mood your music can provide. Wistia offers many suggestions on choosing music in a recent video.
Below is a non-exhaustive list of musical elements to consider:
- dynamics (volume levels)
- tempo (speed/pace)
These are essentially the building blocks of what goes into a music selection for video.
Pick music that fits what’s being said onscreen.
- Avoid using vocal-driven music or segments while there is talking onscreen. At best, mix the background music back even further.
- If your video has multiple sections, consider doing one of two things:
- Match the arrangement of the song to the arrangement of the video (or vice versa)
- Line up multiple songs and segments to use throughout the video, and apply the above suggestions.
- Experiment with different tempos of the same piece of music if possible.
- Be tasteful. Don’t just dump “Here Comes the Sun” on a clip that shows the sun out of habit. Find a way to use the music creatively to add to the story – not just be redundant.
Let us know in the comments below what has worked the best (or maybe not so great) in your music selection efforts in video production!
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