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 essence.
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 you'll remember)
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 your freewriting. . .
. .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 organization.
Benefit of productivity - accomplishment Getting things done - satisfaction, freedom, liberation 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, accomplishment.
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 work.
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 Creative Director for the UniqueTracks Production Music Library. He writes the monthly e-newsletter “Underscore - Secrets of Successful Soundtracks", published by UnqiueTracks. Click to subscribe http:// http:// http://www.uniquetracks.com/Newsletter.htm