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King music

June 27, 2017  •  4 Comments

Music and sound can punch above their weight as components of an audiovisual production. I know this, but have been emphatically reminded of the synergy in recent days.

I was privileged to be invited by Emeritus Professor Des Crawley to deliver a presentation titled "Integrating Image, Text, Sound and Movement" as a component of St George Leagues Club Photographic Society's 2017 PEP (Photography Education Program).

The first time I put together a slideshow of my landscape images, with transitions synchronised to beats in musical accompaniment, I was spellbound. Suddenly my images looked better; had more drama; took me back to the places that had arrested me and prompted me to lift the camera. The whole was greater than the sum of its parts.

It's probably true that the impact of music on my appreciation of my own images is in large measure due to the fact that I'm not a musician—other than being able to hold a tune in song and strumming basic chords on a guitar. Am I all the more impressed with the contribution of music to my audiovisual productions because music is the key element of the production that I'm not competent to craft myself; that I have to rely on others to provide?  Yes, I believe so.

Fortunately, through serendipitous opportunities during the last 10 years of my career before retirement (working as a corporate photographer and videographer), I've been playing with the arrangement of still images, video, musical soundtracks, and environmental soundscapes for a long period. Although the still photograph (specifically the printed and framed single image) represents to me the pinnacle of photographic endeavour, there is no doubt in my mind that showcasing of one's work in audiovisual form is a powerful way of sharing a large body of work that can never be wholly represented in physical prints or pages of books. Of course, the audiovisual mode of presentation trumps the physical image by virtue of the former's ability to celebrate components that can never be translated in ink: music; sound effects; the sounds of the Australian environment.

For years I've collected inspirational quotes and insights from creatives and written them in small notebooks. While travelling back from Sydney to Port Macquarie on the train yesterday, I browsed the pages of Volume 2 of my notebook collection. The quote on page 129 struck me with its relevance to my recent presentation at St George Leagues Club and prompted me to write this blog post. I know that my presentation was well received. I must give a nod to the music for its powerful contribution.

King soundKing soundQuote by Walter Murch. It's true!

It seems unfair, to me, that visual artists get more of the credit for their contribution to a piece than the composers who provide the magical, aural glue that binds the whole together—the music. 

If you're interested to read the entire article by Walter Murch, click here: "Stretching Sound to Help the Mind See".

So, where do you get legal access to good, royalty free music for your audiovisual productions? Here comes an unsolicited and unpaid plug for a resource that I have used for seven years.

I use Smartsound. You pay for a licence for an album or a track and you can slice and dice and rearrange the music to suit your purposes using Smartsound's online editor (QuickTracks) or its more powerful desktop editor called SonicFire Pro.

  • Have an audiovisual production that goes for 135 seconds and want a piece of music that sounds like it was written exactly for a 135 second production, with a beginning, a middle, and an elegant (non-truncated) ending? 
  • Changed your mind and added a bit to your production so that it's now a 156-second piece...and want a piece of music that fits the new duration?
  • Love a musical track but wish the woodwind section was louder and the brass and percussion elements were attenuated?
  • Want to make a 5-second audio stinger to introduce a particular slide in your conference presentation?

Smartsound can help your achieve all of the above and more. I love it. As a person who spent a 35-year career in IT and visual communication, I can attest that Smartsound's music and editing software is the most exciting software I have ever used to satisfy a creative need. Why? Read again paragraph 4 above. With image, video, and sound editing software, I feel that if I can envision it I can produce it. But I can't do that with music.  I'm not a composer; never will be. Thankfully, though, Smartsound gives me a way of adding quality, tailored music to my productions without fear of the long arm of the copyright cyberpolice tapping me on the virtual shoulder.



Thank you for your feedback, Denise, Des, and Garry.

Denise, it's a pleasure to help other enthusiastic, photographic tragics!

Des, you will find that Smartsound can accommodate your objective. If you work out the tempo (beats per minute) of the original music you used during filming, you can have Smartsound regenerate one of its tracks at the required tempo. There's even a function in Smartsound that allows you to mouse-tap to the beat of your original music. Smartsound analyses that and tells you what the tempo is in beats per minute (bpm).

For future studio work, you can create a tailored Smartsound track that you like and play it in the studio while the model dances. Then, when editing your video, you can replace the 'live recorded' music with the digital version. Of course, you can also play with the volume levels throughout the track and add other 'hits' at appropriate places if you wish.

Have fun!

Garry, I look forward to viewing your first AV. Good on you for having a go. As your comment touches upon, and my manifesto reminds me..."Grow [creatively] or die [creatively]". Have fun! I know it's your #1 rule in photography (and #2 and #3).
Garry Brettell(non-registered)
Thank you for your continuing enthusiasm to help others in their photographic pursuit of knowledge and growth.I am in the process of putting together my first AV to be viewed outside the family, this is because i have been inspired by your AV presentations , and one has to step outside their comfort zone to grow. Thanks for the presentation to my previous Club. Garry
des crawley(non-registered)
Thank you for these insights as a follow up to our conversation/demo on Monday morning. It is software I need to explore. One feature I am keen to check out is whether I can import music from my own library to use on a range of dance sequences in my library where music was used but of poor audio quality given my studio set up.
Denise McDermott
Hi Rob You give interesting insights in your blog posts and I enjoy reading them, even though I am not yet at your level of expertise. Good on you for presenting to all those interested photographers. Denise :)
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