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How Do You Describe Sound?

The Influencers 185 Add to collection

INFLUENCER: Grayson Music Group's Bridget Flynn on why you should embrace the music brief

How Do You Describe Sound?

Great sound is key to a great spot. It is the emotional connector. The glue that binds the idea. To say that sound is 50% of the experience might be an understatement, where the perfect pairing of music and picture can take the story to a whole other level. 

But the wrong combo can be disastrous. 

As production schedules get tighter, expectations increase rapidly, and demands become more challenging, music development is often triaged to the end of the process leaving little time to explore the different ways to use sound as an integral tool designed to evoke real-time emotion. 

So when it finally comes time for the music brief, the pressure is on to get it right.

With so many directions to choose from, how does one begin to articulate the sound needed for their project? 

Begin, where it ends.

Ask the question, “What emotion should the audience be left with?"

Is it a feeling of inspiration that makes someone want to throw on a pair of sneakers, run out the door and crush 10 miles? Is it that overwhelming sense of hope that triggers an unexpected tear? Or is it an uncontrollable rush of joy a person gets from hearing the perfect song? 

No matter the emotion, music and sound is an integral part of achieving the desired visceral response. Being able to articulate that in a brief is key to the success of your quest to find the right sound. 

In the spirit of efficiency, while holding tight to the importance of freedom and exploration throughout the creative process, we’ve developed The Brief Builder.

This tool breaks down the music brief into a series of simple questions to help creatives communicate their ideas for what the music on your project should sound like, without actually having to engage in the somewhat daunting task of describing sound.  

Build the perfect music brief in 3 steps:

Start simple. Outline the practicalities of the situation: What other sonic elements are you dealing with? Dialogue? Voice over? Sound Design? The balancing act of managing all the elements of sound with your messaging immediately start to define the role of music. 

Go high level. Forget trying to use musical jargon. Instead of beginning with what instruments you want to hear, start with the feeling you want the viewer to experience. Use simple adjectives that best describe the emotion you are trying to evoke. 

Now get to the details. Is there a specific musical genre or era? Who is your target viewer? Are there specific instruments which are a must? Others that are a definite no? Does the music need to hit certain moments? References, if used properly can be an effective way to articulate a direction for sound. They are also tricky.  The key is to be clear and specific about what elements of your reference are relevant, and why. Be careful. Throwing a bunch of unattainable pieces of music against your picture can be a trap. “Demo love” is a perfect example of the strength music has to connect on another level with the viewer. The bond is real!

Composers work from a place of emotion and intuition. Guiding the music team with the right information allows them to tap into that place where they intrinsically know what instrument to pick up, what chords to play, and what tempo to hit. Rather than prescribe, inspire. Rather than dread, embrace…. the music brief!


Bridget Flynn is partner and COO of Grayson Music Group 

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Grayson Music, Mon, 11 May 2020 11:21:09 GMT