How to choose a music for a project

Four simple things to consider when choosing music for a project.

Envato Author, OlexandrIgnatov, gives you four simple things to consider when choosing music for a project.

There are thousands of tracks on AudioJungle, and sometimes it can be incredibly overwhelming to choose the right one for your project if you don’t know exactly what you should be looking for.

In most cases, people choose their tracks based on the aural pleasure or energy it provides, or simply how well it fades into the background, not drawing focus.

This article aims to give customers a guide to what they should be looking for when picking a piece of music for their project.

Elements to look for

black music notes on a solid white background

When choosing a piece of music, there are three main elements to consider.

  • Density of the arrangement
  • Variation of dynamics
  • Variation of mood

Density of the arrangement

photodune-8956727-music-m (1)

The perception of density can be affected by numerous elements including the song’s structure, how many notes are playing simultaneously and even which key they’re in. The more instruments that are playing at once, the more dense an arrangement becomes. And the more dense an arrangement the less transparent it becomes, which – for background music – can often be a bad thing.

For instance, can you remember any music from an Apple commercial? Probably not. And that’s probably exactly what Apple wants: background music that’s mostly transparent and light  – just like its products!

If an arrangement is too full with a lot much going on, it risks pulling the audience’s attention away from the project’s intended focus – the visuals, the story, the presentation, the game, the event, whatever.

If the music is providing support to the main focus, it should remain in the background. It’s not the time or place for a musician to indulge in showing off. Instead – in this case at least – it’s a musician’s job to be in the background and allow enough room for other elements to shine.

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. There are instances where really technically played melodies can work for certain projects. But in most cases, if the audience is less interested in the presentation or video and more interested in the song behind it, something’s gone wrong.

Variation in dynamics

Young conductor in a tuxedo

Next, it’s time to consider how much you want the dynamics of the piece to evolve.

Are you wanting to take the audience on a subtle journey or an intense one?

For instance, a quiet beginning, louder verse, two massive choruses, then a quiet section that bubbles into a massive ending is an example of a piece with a wide variation of dynamics.

Such compositions can work well, but only when used in certain projects.

By searching, “Epic Trailer Music” you’ll see countless examples of tracks with a wide variation of dynamics which make sense in the context of a trailer, as – combined with the visuals – that type of content is usually designed to take you on an intense cinematic journey in a short amount of time.

Yet, if you were using this for a simple ad that is less action packed – let’s say for a commercial advertising a new app where it’s a bunch of footage with someone explaining the product over it – that music is going to take significant focus away from the intended core message of the project.

Arrangements where the sections are too rigid force customers to match the rhythm of the visuals with that of the music, and and can often require them to spend more time editing than should be necessary.

Static composition

The yellow, orange and red note on a grey background

Which is why – in some cases – static compositions pay off the most.

These are pieces with almost no changes for 2-3 minutes that give customers room to edit and effortlessly slide them into their projects.

Done right, compositions like this often end up seeming more low key and are almost not noticed by an audience. Instead their brains unconsciously start to ignore the audio and start to focus on the visuals. And yet perceive the video as a full experience because of the music. Which is what a customer is usually trying to achieve when choosing a piece of music to go with a project.

Mood changes


This topic is similar to dynamics but more focused on how the composition develops, and less focused on how the individual layers interact with one another. 

For example, you may want the first 30 seconds to be really uplifting and inspiring, the next 30 seconds suspenseful and the last 30 seconds to reach a crescendo and scare the hell out of an audience. While this would be quite an intense piece, it a clear example of changing moods within an composition.

But, let’s clarify whether you should be expressing one mood or more.

If you were producing a short movie, perhaps, then it would seem logical to choose pieces of music that contain mood changes.

If you have the need to change the mood within your project, you need to pick a composition that speaks to this, or pick a few different compositions that can be applied to sections of the script that require a change in mood.

Music that does this can enhance your ability to elicit an emotional response from your audience. But this all rests on how appropriately you choose your music.


black music notes on a solid white background

2+2=5 is the best way of thinking about how music should work with your project, in that “the whole is more than the sum of its parts”.

We all adore watching breathtaking videos and presentations. And when a video is really great, we don’t think of the final product as video + sound anymore, we think of it as a singular experience.

It doesn’t matter how high quality the separate elements are when isolated, the experience as a whole becomes way bigger than any one of its singular parts.

Whether it’s a boring business presentation, or an epic trailer for a film, mixing your work with the right music will always result in something bigger than what you thought. Combining two creative pieces will always equal something more than 4.

This article was originally published on by OlexandrIgnatov


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