By Bob Good
Sometimes it helps to remind ourselves why we do what we do.
I mean, we already know that music captures the viewer’s attention, establishes the mood, builds an emotional connection, helps motivate the subconscious and creates a lasting impression. But why and how does it do those things?
1. Music vs Silence
When I’m working in my garden I’ve often noticed that if I hum a tune, birds come closer to me than if I’m silent. They seem to feel safer. It’s also well documented that a store can be beautifully designed, lit and laid out, but will lose some of its selling power if customers are greeted with silence.
Many experiments have been carried out and research done into the psychological perception of music, some involving the sounds of safety, stress and danger. To cut many articles down in to one sentence, situations with music are experienced as less stressful and dangerous than situations with silence or natural sounds. Music makes us feel safe, in these terms representing a relatively predictable pattern of auditory input, and creates the impression that there’s nothing dangerous going on.
2. Music vs Other Sounds
You can’t hum a metronome click.
And if you’re humming a tune, or a jingle, then you’re reminded of an experience, or a programme, or a product. But it’s not all about content recall and creating that lasting impression. Did you know that a person’s heart rate changes when listening to music? And that whether the heart beats faster or slower depends on the tempo of that music?
Brain imaging studies have shown that music works at a very deep level within the brain, stimulating not only those regions responsible for processing sound but also those associated with emotions.
Studies have also shown that music with a faster rhythm, such as rap, increases a person's heart rate, instead of providing a relaxing effect. Yes, music makes us feel safe, but it also draws us in and makes that emotional connection.
In other words, the tempo and rhythm (speed and density) of the content are important factors. But it’s important that that content is music.
Continuously-rhythmic music entrains us (causes our brainwaves and heart rate to synchronize with the rhythm). Interestingly, it’s the emotional connection which music makes that triggers this response; it doesn’t work with an emotionless sound such as a metronome click. The more emotionful the music, the more connection it makes with us. Which brings me on to...
3. Quality Music vs Cheap Music
Take, for example, a piece of violin music. Imagine the emotional connection we have with that piece of music if we are holding the violin in our hands and playing it ourselves. Now imagine we’re merely in the audience watching/listening. Our connection with the music, although still good, is reduced. And we lose a little bit more of the connection with a recording of that performance. But that connection tails off markedly if we listen to the same piece recorded using sampled sounds. And it decreases even more markedly if recorded using midi-generated sounds.
You get my gist, I’m sure. The closer you are to the real thing, the more of an emotional connection you have. That same emotional connection which gets you humming a tune, feeling good about it, remembering where you heard it and going back for more.
Lucky there are libraries with quality music at affordable prices then!
As a composer, Bob has produced over 250 tracks. He prides himself on producing high quality music, always recorded using real instruments. Bob’s recent library placements include: BBC’s Masterchef; Autumn Watch; The One Show; Absolute Genius with Dick and Dom; James Martin Home Comforts; Growing Up In Scotland; Channel 4’s A Place In The Sun; Discovery’s British Treasure; American Gold; MTV Lebanon’s Al Hayba; France 3's Au Fil De La Durance; Canal Vie’s Ex Au Defi; Finnish Film’s Spandex Sapiens and many more. You can listen to some of Bob's tracks right here, on Licensing Music.