Audio & Video Production

Do You Hear What I Hear: The Power of Music in Video

Let’s take a little trip down memory lane.

Think back to the last movie you saw. Not one that you were streaming while fixing dinner, checking Facebook and pleading with your kids to stop running in the house. The last movie you really saw. One that had you engaged.

Okay, got it? Good. I bet you can remember the plot line, some of the dialog, the characters, the setting.

Did it make you laugh? Did it make you cry? Were you on the edge of your seat from suspense or gripped with fear, eyes wide from the rush of adrenaline?

Now, hum some of the score (the music, for you non-musical types). Go ahead… hum it. Don’t worry about that guy next to you, he already thinks you’re a bit off.

You can’t, can you?

I suspect you’re thinking “Wait, I don’t remember hearing any music.” *

Indeed. That is exactly the point. I can assure you, there was music throughout the entire movie. If the composer or musical director did his job well, you likely didn’t “hear” any of it. But it did register with you. In fact, those things I mentioned above – laughter, sadness, suspense, those things you felt – had as much, if not more, to do with the score than with the action on screen.

Music in video or film is an absolutely integral part of the finished product. It can change your emotional response to what you’re seeing in a way that the imagery itself cannot. It can direct your perception of what you’re seeing. And when it comes to corporate or commercial video, that perception is everything – it’s your marketing, your message, your brand, and, ultimately, your sales.

Here is an example of a short clip I put together featuring three different styles of music. The timing and tempo of the clips themselves are exactly the same with each piece of music (changing this timing of the cuts can add a whole different layer of emotional response, but that’s another post for another day).

Pay particular attention to the final clip in the sequence: the mid-shot of his face as he’s gazing out.

Notice how you almost get into his head, his thoughts, while he was looking around. By that last clip, you’ve created the narrative in your head. And it’s a different narrative with each music bed – first menacing, second triumphant, and third contemplative. That’s it right there. That’s the power of the music.

In corporate or commercial videos, the goal is to use that layer of music and sound to support a message – your brand’s message or your sales message. You want that message to bore deep into the psyche of the viewer. Music and sound done correctly will do just that; it’s an incredibly powerful tool. **

Next time you watch a show, movie, commercial or corporate video, focus on what they do with the sound. I venture you’ll be very surprised by what’s been hiding in plain sight.

* If the movie you dialed up in your mind is Star Wars, and you’re humming that theme, thinking “HA, see, I do remember the music!”, I really expected better from you. Everyone knows that theme. You are taking the easy way out, go back and start again (…slacker).

** Okay, I’m going to throw you a bone on that Star Wars theme you were humming earlier. Right now there are multiple generations of people, a wide and complex demographic who would be able to tell you within seconds of hearing that music what it’s from. That is incredible brand recognition. It’s the musical equivalent of Nike’s swish, Budweiser’s Clydesdales, or the UPS brown. That is potent stuff right there.

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