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3 Steps on how to be intentional with music for content

Step 1:

As a creative, it is our responsibility to find our intention with our work. One of the most purposeful tools a creative has is the sound or music used behind their scenes.

Whether it be to scare the audience, with creepy sounds of doors creaking.

Rather to build up tension for a character that is about to play in the championship game.

There are countless genres of feelings, step 1 is finding how you want your audience to feel.

Find a certain feeling/genre: fear, pain, anxiety, happiness, sadness, etc.

Let’s try with horror/fear, in honor of October right around the corner.

Step 2:

Once we know the type of feeling we want the audience to experience, the next step is to find the music that matches the feeling. This step is very crucial, for our example horror, the audience Is supposed to feel that the main subject is in distress or about to be in danger. They need to feel like there is some threat lurking off camera. Horror movies execute this impeccably by using creepy melodies like a child singing a nursery rhyme. There is nothing like sound of high pitched piano keys before a slasher movie jump scare. Horror movies are the masters of executing fear into our audiences response.

A modern example: The A24 hit Talk to Me based on a group of teenagers that exercise their freedom to paranormal extracurricular activities. Where most would be afraid to play with an embalmed hand of a deceased clairvoyant, this group of teens finds it quite entertaining to communicate with ghosts. The song : ‘Le Monde’ by Richard Carter is trending because of this scene in the movie. The playful tone from this scene makes the audience feel unease with how careless their behavior is portrayed.

Step 3:

Pro Tip:

Directing tends to manifest more fluidly when the director has multiple options, to facilitate a trial and error process. It may feel like over kill, but as a creative it never hurts to have multiple options.

Therefore, step 3 is to give multiple options when trying to use music. Music is so diverse, that the levels dictate feelings that efficiently. It never hurts to hit multiple points on the music/feelings spectrum, have 3/4 options for any specific scene being attempted to execute.

Music is often times our most efficient tool to hook our audience into the story we wish to portray. Modern technology has built an archive of endless feelings through music, pick the right one, and the audience will melt at the will of the director’s mercy.

Feelings - Music - Execution - Results

To solidify step 3 here is an infamous example from the movie Insidious where the main character encounters the Demon which has kidnapped his son. The scene is famous because the demon’s introduction music is this creepy eery show tune that sounds like it was pulled form a house of horrors. ‘Tiptoe through the Tulips’

Written by: Lucas Velazquez


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