Think of your favourite movie or TV show — say, Star Wars. Think of its big vistas, fun set pieces, and majestic score. Now think of it with sad tinkling piano, lone ukulele, or a bagpipe suite. Chances are it would not have the same emotional impact, to say the least.
When you’re looking for cinematic background music for your presentation, there are many ways for your search to go right — but equally as many ways for it to go wrong, too.
Here are 9 of the most common ways to mess up your cinematic background music.
1. It Conveys the Wrong Emotion or Tone
Studies have proven that music truly is a universal language. It will affect audiences in the same ways, across vast language and cultural barriers. A sad piece of music will be recognized as such by listeners all around the world. That means that if you’re trying to convey a happy emotion in relation to your presentation, you need to find music that makes use of the universal characteristics of happy music
In general, music in a major key sounds happy and music in a minor key sounds more melancholy. If you’re not a musicologist, don’t worry — you probably know happy music when you hear it. And there are handy sites like Stock Music that allow you to search music by emotional tones like happy, or, if you prefer, romantic.
According to researchers, music can broadly conjure up at least 13 overarching feelings:
Amusement, Joy, Eroticism, Beauty, Relaxation, Sadness, Dreaminess, Triumph, Anxiety, Scariness, Annoyance, Defiance, Feeling pumped up
There is a broad emotional palette for you to play with, musically. Rest assured, if you look in the right places, you’ll be able to find the cinematic background music for videos that suits the emotion and tone you’re hoping to achieve.
When in doubt, ask some friends if your choice of cinematic music is working. Good music can add texture and depth to the emotion you want to convey; a poor musical choice can confuse or undermine the emotion you’re aiming for.
2. It’s Too Overbearing for Your Content
There’s a reason why it’s called background music. It has to support your content, not fight against it. That can mean playing music at the right volume, but also finding music that has the right tempo and instrumentation. It’s not always completely obvious until you actually play it together with your presentation, but you need royalty free background music that is supportive and gently underscores your message.
Studies have shown that music can help us focus, but only certain kinds. Some scientists recommend classical music with 60-70 beats per minute (BPM) as the ideal tempo for sustained focus and concentration, and that it “induces a state of relaxation where the mind is calm but alert.” Try it for your next presentation and see if your audience is indeed more focused!
3. It Has the Wrong Sense of Place or Time
Music inevitably carries us back to certain locations and time periods. So while everyone agrees classical is good for presentations, baroque is probably a bit too anachronistic (inconsistent to the time period) to be effective for a presentation. Anachronistic music can really throw off your audience’s perception, so make sure it feels congruent with the kind of presentation you’re giving.
4 It’s Too Short (or the Timing is Off)
It seems obvious, and it is, but a piece of music that ends abruptly in the middle of your presentation is going to leave your audience in the clueless. Likewise, a track that feels like it’s just warming up when your presentation ends is likely to make your audience feel unfulfilled or disappointed. Music at its best will be symbiotic with your presentation, underscore its emotion and important beats, and come to a natural conclusion in sync with yours. Bad music will end too abruptly, go on too long, or otherwise feel out of place with your content.
5. It’s Too Monotonous
Some repetition is good as a motif or theme. Use of repetition in the form of motifs can be a way of:
– Reminding your audience where the important beats are
– Reconnecting to your important points after you may have gone off on a tangent
– Underscoring the differences and similarities between your points
Too much simple repetition, though, will feel, well, repetitive. In this case, you could risk losing your audience due to redundancy and inattention.
While your royalty free music has to be supportive and in the background, it also has to be varied enough to add zest and emotion to your presentation. Remember, you need emotional cinematic background music, not just the musical equivalent of oatmeal.