The human brain is one of the most complex and sophisticated instruments in the world. What it is capable of imagining, creating, and understanding is unparalleled in the realms of science and technology. Composing beautiful notes and sounds into music is no exception, and the effects it has upon our minds is extraordinary. The psychological responses we have to music are very powerful and its use in film and other video productions can have a truly personal effect on each member of an audience.
In the book The Power of Music, Elena Mannes says that “scientists have found that music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human function.” Music affects us psychologically and can improve memory and increase mental development. It can reduce stress, relieve pain, and enhance motor skills.
With all these amazing effects music provides, its easy to see the prominent role it plays in media. Music in film and other video production can impact our moods and stir emotions within us. It can set the tone for a scene or help us relate to important characters. Take a look at a few examples of how music can be used in video production to evoke powerful psychological effects in our projects.
Offer Additional Context
Just like imagery, music can provide an audience with definition and context that sometimes actors or dialogue cannot. A dark, foreboding tune can foreshadow the oncoming of a tragedy or major plot twist while a campy, upbeat piece will help the audience recognize that a fun or humorous scene is about to unfold. By accessing a variety of music genres, you can amplify any situation you are portraying to your viewers. The right music can enhance your project’s environment and tell a tale without words with a fitting selection.
Highlight the Region and Historic Period
Time and place are very important aspects of all media, and realism and authenticity are critical to a project’s impact on the audience. The setting of a story can draw an audience to a project just as much as plot, so providing as much descriptive backdrop to your work as possible is imperative to create the world your characters live in. Syncing appropriate music to the narrative of your production can provide added layers of believability for your viewers and enhance the levels of immersion they experience. International music is tied to specific geographic locales and the right selections can pinpoint historic eras in time to paint an accurate portrayal.
Portray a Character’s Emotions
When delivering emotion in video sometimes dialogue is not necessary. Integral characters oftentimes have scenes or moments of solitude and it is here where music can truly offer the audience an added sense of involvement. A loud, boisterous song can help viewers understand the anger of the protagonist’s sense of betrayal while a slower, melancholy selection can resonate the heartbreak of your characters’ woes for a loss in the family. When it comes to emotion, there really isn’t a better medium than music for us to relate our feelings. It only makes sense that utilizing desirable music in your productions can elevate to a higher level of emotional engagement to your characters and help the audience connect more deeply to them.
Establish a Particular Atmosphere
All genres of film strive to create a unique atmosphere. The surroundings, the environments, and moods of differing scenes in a production will command varying types of distinctive characteristics to set them apart from the others. In these circumstances, music can also be of great service to a video project. A perfect example of the psychological effects of music on the brain and the emotions that can be elicited from it is a horror movie. No other genre of film has the overwhelming capability to manipulate the audience and send them on an emotional roller coaster ride of suspense and terror. When used correctly, the sounds of fear can be just as terrifying as the visuals on screen. The music used in horror films, and all other genres for that matter, can trigger our senses in ways visuals cannot, adding more layers of immersion and atmosphere.
Transitions and Connecting Scenes
A fluid progression of story telling is essential for any strong piece of media. Piecing together your tale should be a seamless affair for your viewers not a haphazard farce of confusion. The highs and lows or ups and downs that music can provide can easily complement your production, giving it a more plausible and polished feel. Moods and emotions can change in film just as quickly as it can in our day to day lives, so choosing the right audio connect the scenes of your project can achieve a more relatable atmosphere for the audience.
Guide Viewers Through Specific Parts of the Film
As mentioned earlier, at times there are points in film where dialogue is unnecessary. This is an opportune moment to insert music that will help capture the atmosphere of the scene without any lines or conversation. The training montages in the “Rocky” films are great examples of this as well as the silent but eerie scenes on the boat while hunting the great white in “Jaws.” These moments capture the tone of the film the writers are striving for and place the audience right into their fantastical worlds.
Cultivate a Character’s Personality
Character development is one of the most important concepts of film. It helps the audience relate to the people in our stories and makes them come to life with personality and complexity. A good story has affable characters as well as ones we condemn or even despise. Music can help guide us to these conclusions easily when used correctly. Dark, sinister themed music can enhance our opinions on scenes with the lead adversary doing his nefarious acts, while upbeat and cheerful melodies can help strengthen our affection for the would-be hero. Part of great story telling is audience revelation or awareness. Sometimes, we as viewers are the only ones that are conscious of certain key themes of a story and using music to compliment these unknown matters is a very powerful tool. Music has so much personality itself that there are endless possibilities to develop your characters within your project.
Mind the Music
Music is a powerful medium. It pervades our lives constantly. It’s influence in all facets of life are undeniable. The way we interpret music and how our brains receive it are simultaneously wildly universal and very personal. It triggers emotions and feelings deep within us unlike any other medium, therefore it only stands to reason that using music effectively in film and video can truly bolster any media project. Choose your media soundtracks wisely, each piece of music affects each individual in their own unique memories and psychological references. Giving your audience those added levels of immersion, plausibility and authenticity can be a major contributor to what separates your creative work from other producers and videographers.