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British film director Tony Kaye once said that music and sound are the most important parts of any production. It’s these two elements that carry the emotion and fill the room.

With content creation on the rise and access to improved technology, the boundaries of quality are constantly being pushed. Through mediums of TV programming, social media, video-on-demand services and more, there are stories being told everywhere.

Music plays a vital role in storytelling and it can truly make or break the piece. It’s the music that will either enhance or destroy all the hard work that has gone into making the story.

Everyone can recall that tearjerker ending with an emotional piano melody, or the horror scene with the screeching high strings, but can you imagine watching the same scene without music.

The key with all of these scenes is that the music is there, but subconsciously the viewer does not always pay attention to the music due to the emotion they are feeling.

Take the example of the final scene of Star Wars: A New Hope, without the music. Do you even remember hearing Chewie shouting?

Without the sweeping John Williams melody, it becomes an uncomfortable and awkward mess!

So how do you choose the perfect piece of music?

Well there’s no secret formula. It’s all about listening visually. Just because you have a track you love, it doesn’t mean that it will enhance your production. When you listen to the music you need to visualise what the piece is telling you.

Sometimes it’s the silence between the notes that will have the biggest impact and not the notes themselves. The music should compliment your picture and dialogue. When you’ve managed to create or even change your audience’s mood through music and they’ve not even realized it, this is when you give yourself a pat on the back. Knowing when to add or remove the music is essential to making this a reality.

The music can also take centre stage along with the visuals when appropriate.

Finding a juxtaposition using music can have a more powerful affect than using what might seem like the obvious choice.

Whatever your approach is, think about the quality and the importance of music in your production. It really does make a huge difference in whether the story you’re trying tell will come alive or not.

Start thinking about the music in your production as early on as possible and whether you use production music, commercial music or a composer, engage with them to make sure you’re getting exactly what you need to make your production a success.

Get some inspiration by listening to great quality music now!

Top photo: © YinYang / Getty Images


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About Author

Élodie Levasseur is Head of International Marketing for Universal Publishing Production Music.

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