More on Music
Music! The other half of film. We all know how important music can be. Bring up “Jaws” and whomever you’re talking to will hum the most memorable two-note combination in movie history.
John Willams is the hardcore master of memorable movie melodies, but on my Youtube comments board this week it pretty much came down to a fist fight between him and Hans Zimmer. It makes sense. Zimmer’s a badass and he’s everywhere right now. There were also a lot of votes for the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack, but most of my update audience knows how much I love Edgar Wright, so that may have just been an apple for teacher situation.
So, how do you find music for your show? A lot of no-budget content makes the mistake of going light on the music, but pretty soon your show or movie starts to feel uncomfortably empty, and you don’t look very professional because of it. You can’t just grab your favorite soundtrack and drop it in because that’s tantamount to donning a mask and making a run at the intellectual property bank vault. So you need to find rights-free or public domain music.
The first logical stop is actually the worst choice. Apple’s Garageband has a whole bunch of pre-arranged music that you’re allowed to use for nothing, and a lot of it works great over scenes. But when you upload something to the internet with Garageband music in it you’re going to get the comment equivalent of a prison shower shanking. Two reasons: It’s too recognizable and it’s very synthesized sounding.
The next stop would be the Music Beds tab of Soundtrack Pro, which comes as a part of the Final Cut Pro Studio package. You can actually get away with this a little more. Less people recognize them, they sound less synth-y, and the songs are really good stuff. You’re less likely to get called out on using these, so you can use them sparingly, but there are other options.
The big thing on Youtube right now is to use music from a site called 8bit Collective at 8bc.org. Here, 8-bit music enthusiasts create original early-Nintendo sounding tracks. A lot of them are really good. The music is generally released under a creative commons usage agreement and people are free to use it to score their work if they credit the creator or include a link to the person’s page. Usage rules very, so be sure to check the page. It’s pretty cool.
Another site, Musopen, has a cache of recognizable public domain classical masterpieces recorded by organizations that aren’t selling cds, so the recordings are rights free. The web address that takes you right to the browsing list is musopen.org/music.php. They have a HUGE selection and there are plenty of ways to use these songs. They’re friggin’ classical masterpieces for crying out loud.
The last site I want to mention is Incompetech.com. This guy, Kevin MacLeod, has a really large selection of awesome music that he’s composed and recorded in a variety of genres. There’s even a “Browse by Genre” function on his site. All that he asks is that he be credited and, if the functionality exists, for a link to his site to be made available. The address that will take you right to his royalty free area is incompetech.com/m/c/royalty-free. He also will compose directly for you if you have a budget set aside for things like that.
The way we do it on Platoon of Power Squadron is to know a lot of musicians who make music for us and are good enough to do it out of affection for us, affection for the project, and a piece of eventual DVD sales. The guy who puts in the most hours is Suede, from the previous video. He’s sunk a lot of time, talent, and energy into scoring for PoPS and I can’t ever thank him enough. We just finished scoring episode 4 last night at around midnight. I’m really excited.
We start putting episode 4 up on Youtube next Sunday, December 26th, in approximately 5-minute segments, the last of which goes up on New Years Eve. Hope you have a chance to check it out.
Thanks for reading.