Believe it or not, the background music is a matter of science and not just instinct to make pretty music to flatter your favorite actor. According to scientific theory and the “Mozart effect”, people who listen to fifteen minutes of good music (Mozart, as the experiment would record) reported higher performance on cognitive tasks. The theory suggests that listening to Mozart (and similarly complex music) may increase arousal in the right hemisphere of the brain.
Clint Mansell’s Requiem for a Dream is an example of a new age musical score that has been used repeatedly in movie trailers and other shows to increase dramatic effect.
New filmmakers and documentarians also rely on royalty free storytelling music to use in their short films. The music may be peppy and quirky for a commercial or perhaps dramatic and sweeping for a trailer or a movie scene.
Music in marketing has become increasingly important as people can more easily associate a new product or company when it is announced along with a musical “anchor”. A little known art of musical branding is when the director must look for the right “musical fit”, that is, the congruity between the song and important cues in the ad. None of what you see is randomized but created specifically for effect and for memory recall.
Sometimes the use of music to increase emotional responses becomes far less subtle and overt. Dramatic TV soap operas are often parodied because the music works as a very loud cue for the audience to “react” according to the suggestion.
The director’s job is to choreograph the action with the music so that the audience doesn’t really notice the music. They feel the emotion and the music helps them process how the character feels and what action they are seeing.
Before you make that short film be sure to download some music to make the climax that much more powerful with your audience.