Nature Video Soundtracks

Monday March 11, 2019 / Behind the Scenes

The beauty of modern technology with regard to soundtracks is that literally any sound can be reproduced right from the studio, whether man-made or natural. From the clashing of medieval swords to the gunfire and helicopters of modern warfare, from the roar of engines to the sounds of nature and animals, we can essentially do it all with a keystroke.

When we (Jamie and Eli) started with the above clip, there was no sound in it, neither music nor the sounds of nature and animals. Eli has reproduced every sound of nature from the flapping of seagull wings to bees buzzing to water bubbling with the technology and software packages available to us. Not every sound database is created equal and some of the more low quality ones can sound a bit cartoon-ish, but Eli scours the known sound database world to find the higher level post-production studios that provide the most realistic sounds of nature.

Once we have the wildlife sounds down, it's time to apply some music to bring the majesty of these nature scenes to life. The video clip we put together is actually 22 short clips that Eli has spliced together to form the string that you see. What's nice is that while they show a variety of animals, they all speak to a similar tempo that can be woven together by a soundtrack of one type.

There are no predator-prey scenes here that would call for the music of tension, meaning drums and deep vibrato strings that can pound out a blood pressure-elevating beat. Instead we have the beauty and majesty of nature depicted which calls for something more soft, light and even happy in places.

We started with the Woodwinds, mainly an oboe, clarinet and bassoon. These provide a nice soft and relaxed mood to the piece, and then we add in some strings. Strings are wonderful at providing a whole range of emotion and in this case when you see the water snake, you can hear the strings of a cello that provide the feeling of 'sneakiness' as it writhes through the water. Then when you see a whale shark it calls for some light tension so we used low strings of the cello and an upright bass that are bowed (not plucked) to add a little drama to the scene, but not too much to be out of place and make the transition back to relaxed and happy feelings difficult.

Woodwinds are often in the background of music but here is a Woodwinds-only version of 'Hedwig's Theme' from Harry Potter. Hedwig is an owl of course and the flight of the woodwinds brings to mind the flapping of Hedwig's wings as he brings his various messages to Harry.

Again through the modern miracle of technology we can select which orchestra we would like to use to provide our sounds and feelings of choice. In this piece we used two different orchestras, the London Symphonic and the EastWest Hollywood orchestras.

The EastWest Hollywood package is nice because it provides every solo instrument with every articulation you can think of -- straight note, flange, rip, bend, staccato, and one can play each individual string louder or softer. The trumpet has 12 different choices of how we can play it, from tremolo to staccato. It's got great action and is good for Epic scenes such as a Harry Potter battle scene score from the great John Williams.

The London Symphonic package is strictly straightforward in how it is played, a very classical format. But it's also much more gentle and laid back than the EastWest Hollywood, so in this case it worked well for our purposes.

Rounding out the instruments we used an upright, acoustic bass, a harp and even a xylophone for some light and playful effects.

On a personal note it's really fun for me (Jamie) to to get back to my roots with orchestral music of this type. For most of my career I was in New York focusing on R&B and Adult Contemporary music at Power Station and other studios. Orchestral music brings me back to my school days at the Royal College of Music in Scotland. I was just 15 years old (I studied at the College from age 11 til 17) when I had the honor of playing with the Scottish Philharmonic Orchestra at a "Night at the Proms" live show. It was Mozart Piano Concerto in C and I remember practicing so hard for it that I wasn't just ready to do it right, I had made sure that I couldn't get it wrong. I could literally do it with my eyes closed and fortunately it went off well on stage. What an amazing opportunity at a young age and I'm sure that moment bolstered my lifelong love of music and composition.

Here is a more recent performance of the Mozart Piano Concerto in C featuring British pianist Paul Lewis.

Thanks for listening to our latest clip, reading the blog and being out there in the world creating amazing content. At SoundSuite we want to not only provide soundtrack music but to care about what YOU are working on and how we can help to make it the best possible piece of content. Contact us directly at any time and we would be happy to have a phone conversation with you. We can recommend some very affordable $6-$10 stock tracks or if you'd like we can talk about a custom piece created just for you.

Thanks and Keep Creating,

Jamie & Eli

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