Music is so powerful that when it’s placed well against a visual, it can cause the viewer to immediately create a scene in their heads with very little reference to the story. In fact, this can be done with something as simple as clouds. Take a look and listen to these 3 quick examples and notice how the music creates different moods, perspectives, and stories by using the exact same visual. See how your assessment compares with others:
Example 1: Using music to set an ominous mood, first person perspective, and an anticipation of things to come.
In the first cue, the music sets up a very ominous mood that anticipates bad things about to happen. Most people who watch it visualize an opening scene to a psychological or sci-fi thriller. In terms of the “bad things about to happen,” many felt that the perspective of the shot is from the very thing/being that is about to lay down the hurt. So, this is an example of how you can use music of a certain style, tempo and orchestration to set a mood or spark the beginning to a story; not to mention suggesting scene sequence and perspective.
Example 2: Using music to set a third person narrative of things that have happened; flashbacks.
The goal of the music in this cue is to denote time within a storyline by letting the viewer know they are going to experience some event that has already taken place. This could be the death of someone, a survival, a new beginning, etc. The tempo and harmony lead us to expect some sort of narrative.
Example 3: Using music to set a heroic theme and a resolution to events that have already taken place.
Here is an example of music setting an endpoint to a storyline. The repeated cadence of the music gives the viewer a sense of resolution, and therefore an ending to a story. Most viewers experienced this in addition to a heroic element of the story. Words such as “victory,” “Military Homecoming,” “made it!” all came to the viewers’ minds. This is achieved not only with traditional cadences, but with orchestral instrumentation as well.
The next time you add music to your media project, don’t just stop with what “sounds good.” Place it against your scene and listen for the story the music is telling.