Music month - psychology of music

May 10th, 2018  |  by perlatkociaj

Seeing Music and The Psychology of Music

December 2016 saw the first ever music month collaboration between Filmstro and cinema5D. In the world of music a lot of complex and abstract language is used and I think it's fair to say that it leaves many of us confused. Visual content creators are more often than not visual learners and with that in mind Filmstro decided to simplify the language between composers and filmmakers. Filmstro has condensed complex musical terminology to 3 key parameters: Momentum, Depth and Power.


In the video (above) a clip from one of the Bourne films is used as a perfect example of high momentum. Music with a lot of percussion (listen to our royalty-free percussion music), high frequency, alongside a fast percussive beat helps to create the fast pace desired in action scenes as seen in the Bourne series. Not only is this what we hear but it's what we see. Fast paced movements, hand held and close up shots help emphasise the fast-paced action leaving the audience feeling tense. The music and visual composition tie together to create a cohesive structure in the scene.  

The momentum from the Bourne film is then compared with a contrasting clip from 'Man of Steel', which demonstrates low momentum. The music is used as a foundation for the scene because the focus is on the dialogue. The use of long notes compliments the handheld long shot that creates a sense of intimacy into the lives and conversation of the two characters on screen. The two scenes demonstrate how high and low momentum can be used to help tell a story.


When thinking about depth we make the link between texture and register/pitch. Very little depth would make use of high registered instruments, flutes, high strings, Glockenspiel etc. A clip from Harry Potter is a great example of very little depth. A light ethereal rabbit gliding around the room is mimicked by high registered instruments playing delicate, airy and decorative phrases.

On the contrary, a clip from Transformers is an example of a lot of depth. The music being low in depth creates a dark, threatening atmosphere (listen to our royalty-free tense music). Instinctively as humans we know these low sounds are associated with danger. Not only does this scene have low depth but also low momentum. This mirrors the heavy movements of the characters.


Power is the intensity of the music. An intense battle scene from Lord of the rings demonstrates the music at full power and high momentum (listen to our royalty-free aggressive music). The strong sword swings and fast movements, are echoed by the power and momentum of the music. On the contrary a scene that has a slower pace and focuses on a deeper emotional connection between two characters (as in the sample scene from Star Wars: Attack of the clones) may require less power.

Now that we're clued up on what Momentum, Depth and Power mean in terms of music, you can jump right into episode 2 and see how these 3 musical elements can be applied when scoring a film yourself.

If you're looking for a more integrated workflow you can check out the Filmstro Premiere Pro panel. Episode 3 (below) shows Nino Leitner of cinema5D running through a BETA version of the Filmstro panel for Adobe Premiere Pro CC.

Filmstro and cinema5D also ran  a music month competition with over $5000 worth of giveaways sponsored by Rode, Zacuto, FilmConvert, Zhiyun-tech and MisterHorse. You can find the winners list on the official Filmstro Facebook page.

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