Pin Me

Using Music In Your Digital Video Projects

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 3/15/2010

Music can add so many elements to your home digital video project, but it is a delicate addition that should be chosen and included with care.

  • slide 1 of 5

    Transform Your Video

    The visceral and poetic feel of the perfect music track can elevate your digital video project far beyond the sum of its parts. When the right song is coupled with images that it matches or clashes with, the result can be more than you ever expected. It is easy to say that music should be a part of most video projects, but how do you choose what to use and where do you go get it? Music should be chosen even more carefully than other types of media you use in the final editing process because the wrong track can destroy the emotional or intellectual bond you are trying to develop with the audience.

  • slide 2 of 5

    Do Not Let It Overpower the Scene

    Though the music is important, it should never over-power the natural sounds and dialogue that are part of the scene. Those are primary to the story and must be maintained at all times, even at the cost of hearing appropriate music clearly. The best way to do this is to integrate the music, and then lower the volume right as the sounds and voices in the scene become the focus. You do not have to worry too much about drowning out the background sound unless it is crucial for establishing the mood and location of the scene. Music with words should try and be avoided when possible, unless those words serve a purpose to the film beyond their simple lyrical content. If the song is classic and recognizable it is likely that the audience will not try and make out the words and the song can still be used to define the mood. If it is an original or lesser known song you may want to avoid lyrics while people are talking on the screen. Even when no dialogue is happening, if you can hear the lyrics they better correlate to the scene either situationally or emotionally otherwise they will seem obtuse and useless.

  • slide 3 of 5

    Be Selective

    It is always best to only use select segments from a music track so as to avoid the arc that comes along with a song. Songs tend to follow pretty similar rythms, with a beginning, middle, and end. They usually even include a climax, or “breakdown.” This can compete with the narrative flow you are establishing in your sequence so it is better to break the track up and only use small clips that will match your rhythm. If you find a part of a song that will fit an entire sequence that is significantly longer than that small clip try looping them together and using audio transitions so that it sounds seamless.

  • slide 4 of 5

    Get Quiet Sometimes

    One of the most important things to recognize is when there should be no music, or when the music should fade away and cease. Music adds a lot of depth to video projects, but it will become less profound and more distracting if there are constantly musical tracks playing in the background. Often times you should drop the music after the main point of a new scene is established, if two people are talking and their dialogue is critical to the scene, or when there has been several successive musical tracks in a row.

  • slide 5 of 5

    Always Be Thoughtful About Your Choices

    Music is just one of the many elements you can use to spice up your digital video project and give it a more creative edge. Make sure to keep the music appropriate, do not let it overpower the scene, avoid the music dominating the rhythm you have established, and know when its time for simple silence. Just like any outside media make sure to establish copyright before importing it into your editing project. Though the song may be perfect, that does not mean that you will be safe in using it.