Documentary Music

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    • #49622

      Can anyone recommend a good source for music for documentaries? Has anyone purchased a specific library they are happy with? (i.e. MusicBox3, Stock20, etc…)

    • #203030

      This site has music tracks but you better check the usage terms to see if you need to pay a license fee or not, commercial use needs a license but personal use doesn’t. Freeplay Music.

    • #203031

      At my work we use a few music vendors – Crucial Music, MusicBox, OmniMusic. Our contracts with them specify about $150/song for Not-For-Sale promo videos that we post onto the web and a free DVD.

      Shockwave-Sound has *some* good buyout music. It’s cheaper and can be used for anything, but the trade off is, of course, more cheesy music…

    • #203032

      Digital Juice has great music for good prices – They just had their old StackTraxx line available – They’re not on the website now but may be available if you give them a call. Their MusicBox1 collection is now on sale for $70!

      There is also Sonic Fire Pro from SmartSound – Very good music at any length you need.

      There are plenty of other choices but StackTraxx and SFP make up 95% of my music needs.

    • #203033

      Music Two Hues, Music Bakery.


    • #203034

      Why not write your own. The situation here in New Zealand was so dire with regard to documentary music, that I decided to cash-in (somewhat belatedly, I’m now aged 75), on those years of music lessons my parents inflicted upon me as a child. My showing in the external music theory examinations had been undistinguished, to say-the-least. But, it is having developed an ‘ear’ for music which is important; Not abstract theory. It honestly, doesn’t take too long to be able to find your way around music sequencing software these days, (I use a Canadian Product ‘Quick-score’ because it does what I want at a sane price, without all the ‘bloat’ and ‘overkill’ of some of the more heavily publicised sequencer programmes). I also use ‘Native Instruments’, (of Berlin), ‘Kontakt 4.0’ software as well.

      I started with ‘Garritan’ instrument-samplings, but have added some from other sources, for a ‘more ‘Hollywood’ sound. Not that you might want the the sound to be more ‘Hollywood’ necessarily, as far too much ‘documentary’ audio, these days is overblown to hell and detracts from the listening/viewing experience.

      In fact, ‘Documentary’ music is more difficult than simply making-up a tune, since it is essentially formless, whereas more conventional music divides up, neatly into passages of four,eight or sixteen bars, usually. Being able to play back live video images in synch. with the developing music, is a big help. I usually pre-plan what it is I am going to do, and how the music must ‘morph’ from one mood to another, (make up a ‘flow-chart’ if need be), go to the video-editor’s timeline and map out a game-plan, which may be in either ‘bars’ or seconds, (better ‘both’), keeping clear in-my head, how many seconds I have to fill with meaningful noise, until the next change of mood.

      None of this is really as hard as it might sound, and being able to ratchet-up ‘tension’ at will really adds to the atmosphere of video. My current project is a short sequence dealing with an 1861 shipwreck on our coastline, as part of a half-hour production. The story is fascinating, a passenger ship on a regular service from Otago Harbour, (near where I live), under the command of a first-mate who came on-watch drunk and when he found himself on the bridge, unsupervised, had ducked down-below for another drink, leaving the ship to its own devices, (something which earned him ‘three months, with hard-labour’).

      For all of that, I have only a minute of visual material, in a four-minute sequence, taken at what remains of the wreck, the ship’s flywheel in-the-surf at one of our local beaches. With such flimsy beginnings, the success, or failure must depend crucially on a sufficiently absorbing audio-track, to make the absence of ‘solid’ visuals pass, almost unnoticed. Animated material fills some of the surplus ‘space’, such as an animation, keeping place with the story, showing the ‘Victory’s’ route as it wandered off-course and foundered. The ‘Victory’, incidentally, being only one of 93 ships wrecked off the coast of the Otago Province alone, up to the mid-1970’s. I have material of other wrecks as well.

      So, the rhythm of the engine is suggested by the orchestra, with timpani and, in places, some ‘brass’ (a blast on the tuba, makes for a realistic ‘horn’, for example). The rendered ‘music’ was then tarted-up with an injection of ‘live-steam’, which had its origins in ‘white-noise’ suitably doctored, and shaped by means of the ‘envelopes’ available in ‘Reaper’ which I also used for the final mix.

      So, basically we now have steam being expelled, under pressure, in concert with the musical engine rhythm (‘beat’ if you like) and keeping in time, as the ‘beat’ accelerates. Over that, towards the end, is superimposed the sound of ‘surf’, recorded ‘live’ just a few days ago on a local beach under calm conditions, plus a horrendous chord from the french-horns, as the ship goes ashore, and breaks her back. Fortunately, the ship had gone ashore on a sandy beach instead of a rocky headland, as is far more common on this coastline,and in only four feet of water, so there was no loss-of-life. The rising sound-component of unexplained ‘surf’ on an otherwise dark night, gives the whole situation a bit of an ‘edge’.

      All this was done (it’s not quite complete, as I am going to redo the ‘music’ component, with a little bit of added reverb.), but even to play the sound-track sitting back with eyes shut, it is far more evocative, than the ‘average’, and I’m no great musician, just a guy who preferred the ‘classics’ to popular music, from an early age.

      If I can do it, anyone can.

      Ian Smith – Dunedin, New Zealand

    • #203035

      <span style=”font-family: Verdana;”><span style=”color: #333333; font-size: 10.5pt;”>If you dig around you can find decent stuff with the “CC/by” free for commercial use attribution. I love this site.</span></span>

    • #203036


      You can try

      there are many music tracks that will fit great in documentary projects…

      I hope you find this helpful

      Best !


    • #203037

      I have also some music you might consider for your videos. Just message me if you like:)!



    • #203038

    • #203039

      I am an employee of a royalty-free music download site. You don’t need to purchase a whole library; tracks are available individually from $4.95. I recommend 2-3 sections, depending on the subject matter and mood:
      Soft background music
      Movie / Drama

      Or you may requiremore of a corporate feel.


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