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Use of music.

Rep: 14
Phil Carpenter Feb. 24, 2012, 3:06 p.m. permalink

How many people use music in their video or multimedia pieces?  Any thoughts on the ethics of the matter?  Under what circumstances, if any, do you add music?

Rep: 444
Eric Seals Feb. 27, 2012, 6:16 a.m. permalink

Hi Phil,

I use music in some of my piece once in a while. 

Rep: 444
Eric Seals Feb. 27, 2012, 8:26 a.m. permalink

Trying to add more but the site won't let me

Rep: 444
Eric Seals Feb. 27, 2012, 8:28 a.m. permalink

Oops sorry about that. Hit the wrong button and wasn't finished with my post......

I think if and when you use music it should be; 

1. The right kind of music (tempo, beat, mood etc) used to compliment your piece to help drive home the feeling, emotion or moment of what is going on.  

Nothing is worse than watching something and the music just is loud or doesn't match. When it totally competes with the visuals AND more importantly with what is being said in the piece it bring everything down.

I've been guilty of it in the past several times but the key is I've been learning from my mistakes on it by watching good documentaries and movies.  It's a great exercise to try actually Phil, rent a good documentary or go to a movie with the only mindset of listening for the sound of music.  I've done that the past few months with several films and it's amazing when you can just focus on music when it's being use, how loud or soft it is at certain points. It's like that light bulb going off over your head and now I'm starting to understand it better.

Rep: 444
Eric Seals Feb. 27, 2012, 8:29 a.m. permalink

2. Use it sparingly, at a very low level then raise the sound smoothly and only at the times where it's needed.

I used music recently in two pieces I have on here for review and if you could see the Final Cut Pro audio timeline you'd see that the music is basically nonexistence but once in a while you'd see smoothed up spikes in parts of the music just for a bit which matched the emotion or feeling of the video and even then it was just for a bit, not long or drawn out and sappy.

Look at music like seeing a bowl of candy in front of you.

Think do you really need that piece of candy? Can you live without it? If you gotta have that candy just take one, take a little bit and enjoy it. Do it in moderation because too much of it going to make you sick and you won't appreciate it anymore and it's going to lose it's effect or taste.

3. As far as ethics be sure to make sure the music isn't copyrighted and that it's either fair use, you've paid for it or used it with the musicians permission and he/she gets credit in the end.

Once in awhile I'll use Apple's Soundtrack Pro which is legal to use since we've bought the software at my newspaper. Sometimes I've used free music sites where the composer just asked that you credit him in the end credits with his name, title of song and his website.  Stuff like that.

One site I use more than anything when trying to score something (and not often like I said earlier) is;

Kevin has a whole range of music on there. He's great and just asks for a donation along with credit. Read the FAQ's 

If I use his music I'll usually donate $5 for each song I use.  Lots of good stuff.

Hope this helps :-)


Rep: 91
Peter Huoppi Feb. 27, 2012, 8:50 a.m. permalink

My thoughts are pretty similar to Eric's. If the music is not a part of the story, I try to stay away from it. I never add a music track to daily news type stories. The one place I find myself using music more often is in longer term projects that are mostly interview driven, or that have little natural sound. In those cases, I had a co-worker who is also a musician play his own simple compositions that he worked up specifically for each story. I've browsed the royalty-free sites without much luck. I usually find it too difficult to find exactly what I need.
As far as ethics, I think the music needs to echo the feel of the story, not dictate it. I've seen some television pieces that were scored like a fictional drama. I found that too heavy handed for a news piece.

Rep: 0
Franziska Bährle Feb. 28, 2012, 9:22 a.m. permalink

I also only use music when I got a reason for that, that is for me when the song is just perfectly fitting or if it emphasizes the story in a way. But I think you should always be careful with it, as sometimes for example a sad song in a sad sequence might be too much and destroy the moment. What I'm always aware of is not taking a part of the song where you can hear the lyrics, especially not when someone else from the video is talking at the same time (that's really distracting), in general I'm normally taking instrumental versions, apart from songs where the lyrics fit to the story. 

Like Peter I'm also having troubles in finding music. There's a lot out there and you somehow already got in mind what the song should be like, and it's really hard to find exactly this then (that's what happens to me, and when I got ideas for a song that would fit, it's one from a "popular" band/singer that won't give me the rights to use it for free or for a few dollar ) :) But I'll start regularly browsing through sites like sound cloud and co. and listen to a few tracks, if I find one where I think it could be suitable for a video, I'll note it down. So then later, when I actually need a song for a video, I will have a list with songs I picked in general earlier and hopefully one of them is what I need for that certain video. Just an idea  of a little private music database, don't know if it works, but I'll give it a go :)

Rep: 19
David Brooks March 1, 2012, 9:03 p.m. permalink

In school I had a few instructors with strong opinions on music in video stories... one of them insisted on using only ambient noise as a sound track and he felt music, especially popular music, "artificially" raised the emotional impact of the visuals. He cited well-known documentaries and movies that had weak visuals but a strong musical score. Another instructor felt music was a necessity and basically cited movies and documentaries as the other instructor did, but championed why music was necessary.

I don't use music very much... I guess partly as hold-over from my former instructor that felt it was a crutch... but to be honest, two instances where I used music last year were to cover bad ambient sound where my only other option was complete silence. I'm not against it, as long as you have permission, used sparingly it could help engage the viewer. If I'm going to use music I want it to be understated. Most of the music I've used are beat systems or horns from Garageband but I do have the option of music from a site the paper uses called James Gregg has looked into using music from I haven't used them yet.

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