Music in Sound Design

With music, there are multiple ways to express different things in field of sound design. For example, certain tunes and instruments can take the listener to different geographical locations. Constant drum beat and tribe singers will take you to Africa, majestic horns and flutes to the mountains of Andes, generic oriental instruments to Asia, and so forth. With music, it's also possible to express the era. For example, the sound of harpsichord and a troubadour singer associate to the middle ages, or clunky piano roll piano playing a hasty and jolly tune associate to wild west. Not to forget synth soundscapes which are mostly associated to sci-fi or futuristic environments. These are very traditional ways of thinking about the music and the setting it creates, but mostly very effective.

Perception of music is very different to sound effects. With instruments and melodies, it's easier to create the mood than with sound effects alone. With music, it's also easy to lead listener to feel certain things, such as happiness or sadness. Music can also be used to totally flip the current mood around. Sounds that can be interpreted as music are perceived more directly than sound effects, which can left the listener to ponder the origin or meaning of the sound.

Music to Evoke Imagination

By usage of the instrumentation, music can be divided to different genres. Melody represents the narrative part of music, which consists of different notes, which are from different scales. Overall sound is created by instruments, which represent the melody. For many people, feel of the music is conveyed by the overall sound, which is the sum of all instruments. Rhythm, in form of drums or other instruments, brings continuity and predictability to the music.

When using sound effects as a basis for evoking imagination and moods, there are some weaknesses to be aware of. Different listener will react differently to the sound at hand, based on persons past experiences. Sound of approaching thunderstorm, to some, can create a feeling of relaxing warm summers evening on the cottage's pier, and some may interpret the sound as a threat. With music, creating a more precise image is easier, and leaves less for imagination. For many, the image music evolves is more concise, and so more accurately focused. Thrilling and intense music is usually fast tempo music in minor key. Sad and pensive, slow tempo music and in minor key. Happy and hasty, fast tempo music in major key. These are some examples of music styles which are usually associated with the mood at hand. These kinds of general music types are still being used, for example, in film and game music.

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Author's Bio: 

Matias Puumala - Freelance music composer and sound designer.