Background Music – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Sound Design Glossary Terms

What is Background Music?

Background music refers to the audio tracks that are played in the background of various forms of media, such as films, television shows, video games, and commercials. It is designed to enhance the overall viewing or listening experience by setting the mood, creating atmosphere, and evoking emotions in the audience. Background music is often subtle and unobtrusive, meant to complement the visuals or dialogue rather than distract from them.

Why is Background Music Important in Sound Design?

Background music plays a crucial role in sound design as it helps to establish the tone and mood of a scene. It can heighten tension, create suspense, evoke nostalgia, or convey a sense of joy or sadness. By carefully selecting and implementing background music, sound designers can enhance the emotional impact of a scene and guide the audience’s interpretation of the visuals.

How is Background Music Used in Different Types of Media?

Background music is used in a wide range of media, including films, television shows, video games, commercials, and online videos. In films, background music is often used to underscore key moments, such as action sequences, romantic scenes, or dramatic confrontations. In television shows, background music helps to establish the tone of a series and create continuity between episodes. In video games, background music can enhance gameplay and immerse players in the virtual world. In commercials, background music is used to create a memorable brand image and evoke specific emotions in viewers.

What are the Different Types of Background Music?

There are several different types of background music that sound designers can choose from, depending on the mood and atmosphere they want to create. Some common types of background music include:

1. Ambient music: Ambient music is characterized by its atmospheric and ethereal qualities, often featuring long, sustained tones and minimalistic melodies. It is commonly used to create a sense of calm, relaxation, or mystery.

2. Orchestral music: Orchestral music is composed for a full orchestra and is often used in epic or dramatic scenes to heighten emotion and tension. It can range from sweeping, cinematic scores to more subtle, classical compositions.

3. Electronic music: Electronic music is created using synthesizers and digital instruments, often featuring repetitive beats and synthesized sounds. It is commonly used in modern and futuristic settings to create a sense of energy, excitement, or technology.

4. Jazz music: Jazz music is characterized by its improvisational nature and complex harmonies. It is often used in sophisticated or urban settings to create a sense of sophistication, elegance, or nostalgia.

How is Background Music Created and Implemented in Sound Design?

Background music is created and implemented in sound design through a variety of techniques. Sound designers may compose original music, license existing tracks, or work with composers to create custom scores. Once the music is selected, it is mixed and edited to fit the timing and pacing of the visuals. Sound designers may also use techniques such as looping, fading, and crossfading to seamlessly blend the music with the dialogue and sound effects.

What are the Effects of Background Music on the Audience?

Background music can have a powerful impact on the audience, influencing their emotions, perceptions, and overall viewing experience. Some of the effects of background music on the audience include:

1. Emotional resonance: Background music can evoke a wide range of emotions in the audience, from joy and excitement to sadness and fear. By choosing the right music for a scene, sound designers can enhance the emotional impact of the visuals and create a deeper connection with the audience.

2. Immersion: Background music can help to immerse the audience in the world of the media, whether it’s a fantastical realm in a video game or a gritty urban landscape in a film. By creating a cohesive audio-visual experience, sound designers can transport viewers to another world and make them feel like they are part of the story.

3. Memory retention: Background music can also enhance the audience’s memory retention of a scene or brand. By associating specific music with certain characters, locations, or emotions, sound designers can create a lasting impression on the audience and make the media more memorable.

In conclusion, background music is a vital component of sound design that can greatly enhance the overall viewing or listening experience. By carefully selecting and implementing the right music, sound designers can set the tone, create atmosphere, and evoke emotions in the audience, ultimately making the media more engaging and memorable.