The power of music

How to pick music for video and where to get it

I’m still relatively new to video, although Thore who filmed and cut the two videos below has long time experience as an editor/cutter for advertising and music videos. One of the hardest things for me is picking the right tune for a video. First you have to ask yourself, do you want to do that first and then cut to the music or do you start editing and then pick something. I find it incredibly difficult to start with the music because often I need to work with the footage for a couple of hours before I know what a video should feel like. Sometimes it’s relatively easy because you have a live-recording to get things going like in the video for the Kenya roadtrip, sometimes you heard a special style of music during a trip and can pick something accordingly like in our Balkan videos but most of the time I’m a bit lost when I start.

Another difficulty is, where to get your music. Of course you can always choose something from the youtube-library, but then there will always be 100s of others using the same music. If you’re really professional you can opt for a commercial licensing service that charges you between 5 and  50 bucks for every song. Although we might be getting there one day, that’s still in the distant future. Another option is the Free Music Archive, problem here is, although it’s supposedely the rights owners/composers themselves that upload the songs with a creative commons license, sometimes it’s not. So you might use a song in good faith, only to receive a take-down notice from the rights-holder.

So for our current project (two videos about the museum of natural history in Berlin) we are going to try something new. We will have music made especially for us with all the rights. In this case we will send a very talented friend of ours a raw cut of the video and he will compose something. We have no idea what we will get, but we know it’s going to be unique.

But back to the topic of the influence of music on you perceive a video. If you take the first version above; it’s dreamy, relaxed and completly positive. You can imagine sitting in the park, maybe with a beer in your hand, watching the clouds go by and the golden afternoon sun turning first red and then into the blue and black of night. You know, just a nice summer sunday in Berlin. Even the little jumps in the video itself look just like some charming little imperfections.

The second version on the other hand tells a totally different story. Right from the start you wait for something bad to happen, it’s menacing and foreboding. Suddenly the jumps are not so charming anymore but let us think of some form of sinister manipulation by aliens or the bloody NWO or whatever crazy scary stuff we saw on TV the other night. The clouds gather above and the sunset isn’t just a beautiful phenomenon but precedes the darkness in which surely something evil lurks, waiting to grab you and pull you into it’s underground lair. Well, now that I think about it, I might just have a very vivid imagination, but you get the point right. So next time you like or dislike something you see, take another look or better another hear.

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