Tag Archives: soundtrack

Top 15 songs for Thanksgiving Projects

Wedged between Halloween and Christmas projects,  media creation for Thanksgiving can often feel rushed.  If you’re working on a Thanksgiving presentation or ad campaign, whether setting scenes for the holiday feast, the parade, the church service or the big football game, we have a soundtrack that will lift your project and strike just the right tone.

The following soundtracks will contribute a heartfelt and hopeful mood to your Thanksgiving production.

Also listen to:

Premium Stock Music for Film, TV, Advertising and Interactive. Editor-selected, Easy Search, Fast Results UniqueTracks has a vast library of music loops and grooves plus a large selection of classical production music available for licensing into your production.

Top Classical Music Scores Used As Movie Soundtrack

The great 1970s-era film and TV composer, Jerry Fielding, said something that I have always tried to remember when approaching the music for a film or for any type of soundtrack.

Most of us are aware of and do not like the kind of bad film music that intrudes and italicizes moments that have no need of such emphasis.” ***

Fielding is saying that using background music too obviously, or too literally, can throw off the balance of a scene by over-emphasizing the moment. Because it contributes to and reinforces the emotional atmosphere of the scene at hand, background music has great power to affect an audience’s perception of the film. When done with taste, it elevates the emotional experience of the film. When done poorly, it can add an inflated sentimentality or become overblown and bombastic. In a bad film, I often get the sense that the soundtrack is being used as a crutch. The director doesn’t believe the scene is working and feels it can be saved by adding a lot of extraneous music.

The great majority of film soundtracks comment directly on the scene at hand, For example, in a chase scene, the music usually tries to elevate the audience’s pulse with strong, invigorating music. It echoes the action on screen. However, some of the greatest soundtracks use a much less direct approach. The title sequence to Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull provides a great example of another, subtle, scoring technique.

The movie begins with slow-motion footage of boxer Jake LaMotta (played by Robert De Niro), shadow boxing inside the ring while the movie’s opening credits appear.  The classical background music accompanying this scene is Interlude from the opera Cavalleria Rusticana by the Italian composer Pietro Mascagni. Scorsese chose a piece of pre-existing classical music to form the opening soundtrack to Raging Bull.

Unlike standard underscore, this music doesn’t enlarge or highlight what is happening on screen. Instead, it plays against the scene, creating its own dimension, its own personalized color or texture. The use of Cavalleria Rusticana elevates the scene into a dreamlike, almost religious environment, evoking a sense of the tragedy that we, as audience members, are about to experience while watching the story of Jake LaMotta unfold. This is a much more interesting use of background music. It’s less obvious, more poetic and very powerful.

What is it about classical music that makes it so well-suited to such powerful artistic statements in a film?

The main reason is the music itself. There are no stronger themes than those found throughout the classical repertoire. Add to that the fact that this music is already established in our culture and we, in some cases, have built-in associations with it. Also, the music is hundreds of years old. It has survived the tests of time and we subconsciously experience it as existing on another plane, like a voice from above.

Here is a list of some other movies that use classical music to play against the events transpiring on screen. These scores operate as an overview, revealing the elemental, spiritual core of the movie’s meaning.

Platoon (1986) – The music is Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings – here again, this background music provides the spiritual heart of the film – a saga about the struggle between good and evil faced by soldiers newly-recruited to serve in Vietnam. This same theme is used to produce virtually the same effect in The Elephant Man (1980).

Godfather 1 (1972) – It’s one of the greatest sequences in film history – while attending the baptism of his niece, Michael, the new Godfather, has all his enemies massacred. The scene is scored using J. S. Bach’s music Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor.

Breaking Away (1979) – A coming of age film about a teenage boy so in love with cycling that he adopts all things Italian, including opera, in order to fully emulate his racing heroes.   The film’s most memorable and endearing scene contains no dialogue at all. In it, the main character reaches an incredible speed on his bike by cycling in the backdraft of a large truck. It’s a moment akin to the scene in Rocky 1 when Rocky victoriously leaps up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum. (Gonna Fly Now) except in this scene, the underscore is Mendelssohn’s Allegro, 1st Movement from the Italian Symphony.

2001 Space Odyssey (1968) – Stanley Kubrick’s visually stunning masterpiece uses the composition Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss as its main theme. There is also an incredible sequence using the Blue Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss.

The Killing Fields (1984) – Features a recording of Pavarotti singing Puccini’s Nessun Dorma near the end of the film when the main character (Sam Waterston) has returned to the US after witnessing and surviving the ethnic cleansing in Pol Pot’s Cambodia.

Philadelphia (1993) – Tom Hanks as Andrew Becket comes to grips with his own impending death from AIDS while describing Giordano’s aria La Mama Morta (sung by the great Maria Callas) to his lawyer. The lawyer (Denzel Washington) finally gets beyond Becket’s homosexuality and sees him as a human – sees his humanity. Heavy stuff, also extremely powerful.

Manhattan (1979) – In the famous opening sequence, Woody Allen portrays the New York cityscape in a stunning black-and-white montage. The underscore is Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

The UniqueTracks Production Music Library contains over 200 hours of classical production music. Try searching our music library for classical background music to support your next production.

*** Jerry Fielding is best known for the following film soundtracks spanning the late 1960s through the 1970s: The Wild Bunch, The Outlaw Josie Wales, Straw Dogs, Semi-Tough, The Gauntlet. He also composed the main themes for two pretty famous TV shows – Hogan’s Heroes and Barnaby Jones.

Premium Stock Music for Film, TV, Advertising and Interactive. Editor-selected, Easy Search, Fast Results UniqueTracks has a vast library of music loops and grooves plus a large selection of classical production music available for licensing into your production.

Royalty Free Music, Sound Effects, and Animated Video Backgrounds

Retro Hollywood Movie Soundtracks – New Stock Music

UniqueTracks has just released new stock music soundtracks written in the style of the grand Hollywood films of the past. This collection was composed by Emmy Award-winning film composer Misha Segal.

Included in this set are grand orchestral fanfares, underscores for suspense thrillers, film noir themes, a good helping of early Dixieland jazz, action adventure, and cowboy western scores, spy movie themes and romantic comedy cues, all performed in a retro orchestral style from Hollywood’s glorious past.

Retro Hollywood Movie Soundtracks is a collection of film scores that captures the Hollywood of bygone eras from pre-war black-and-white movies up to the movies of the 1970s.

Highlight Stock Music Tracks include:

Premium Stock Music for Film, TV, Advertising and Interactive. Editor-selected, Easy Search, Fast Results.  UniqueTracks has a vast library of music loops and grooves plus a large selection of classical production music available for licensing into your production.

How Beethoven helped The King’s Speech

Last year’s Academy Award for Best Picture, The King’s Speech, tells the story of how King George VI (who was never intended for the throne) overcomes a debilitating speech impediment in order to better rule England during the perilous years of the 2nd World War. The movie’s climatic scene, where King George successfully delivers a national radio address on the brink of World War 2 is set to the second movement of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. The piece starts softly and slowly and gradually builds to a dramatic, full orchestral finale. The entire movement is propelled by an unrelenting ostinato rhythm that gains in force taking on an almost frenzied tone by the movement’s end.

The story revolves around the English Royal Family. Classical music lends itself well to the regal atmosphere in the film. This is something classical music underscore does well. It can add a refined, even divine, beauty to a scene. Classical music is quite versatile as soundtrack but I hear it mostly used to underscore serious positive emotions like glory, bravery, eloquence, refinement.

There are exceptions, however. Clockwork Orange is one, where extreme violence occurs against a soundtrack of (mostly) Beethoven’s orchestral music. Here the music creates a type of absurd burlesque, making a sarcastic societal comment on the violence.

Terrence Malik’s new film The Tree of Life relies only on a classical music soundtrack as well. It makes sense, Malik’s storytelling is poetic and non-linear and attempts to bring a special type of beauty to filmmaking. The film zones in from theological and cosmological musings to capture the smallest human gestures.

French Canadian filmmaker André Forcier makes great use of Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King in his film Je Me Souviens. This track was licensed from the UniqueTracks Production Music Library. You can also hear it used in the film’s trailer (below).

Example: Classical stock music licensed from the UniqueTracks Production Music Library

Because the classical music recordings in the UniqueTracks library use authentic symphony orchestras, the tracks have a genuine, unsynthesized sound.  We have Bach’s Brandenburg’s as well as several full Tchaikovsky ballets.

Premium Stock Music for Film, TV, Advertising and Interactive. Editor-selected, Easy Search, Fast Results UniqueTracks has a vast library of music loops and grooves plus a large selection of classical production music available for licensing into your production.

How to Create Background Music For the Horror Film Genre

How to use music soundtrack to underscore Fear, Horror, Evil

The most effective and frightening example of background music I can think of is from Alfred Hitchcock’s movie Psycho.  Famed soundtrack composer, Bernard Herrmann, created a chilling effect using piercing and screeching violins played in their highest registers.  As the film progresses, when you hear that sound cue repeated, you know something really bad is going to happen.

Another famous cue that works in a similar way is the 3-note phrase in the low string orchestra that announces the presence of the killer shark in the first Jaws film.

Soundtrack moments like the one in Psycho are great for portraying outright evil and horror but underscoring the feeling of fear can be done in subtle ways too.

Ordinary Actions become Extraordinary

Sometimes the background music notifies the audience that what they are seeing has a darker meaning.  The soundtrack for the movie Michael Clayton does this very well.  The on-screen events are quite ordinary – a woman is getting dressed for work – yet she is accompanied by a chilling soundtrack.

The music acts against the scene, contrary to it.  It is telling us that these events are not ordinary and have importance beyond their outright appearance.  In fact, the music is telling us that these normal events are somehow scary.  Something terrible is going to happen.

The Audience Knows a Secret

Sometimes the audience is let in on a secret, maybe a dark secret, that the central characters in the story don’t yet know about.  You watch as events unfold and you see them getting further and further into trouble.  Here again, a dark or suspenseful underscore can work wonders by building the tension against what is happening on screen.

The Inner Struggle

Let’s say, in your story, your main character, a salesman, is boarding an airplane but we in the audience already know he has a terrible fear of flying.  The flight attendants are welcoming families and other travelers on board the plane.  The airplane cabin is filled with rather innocuous, but pleasant background music.  Then we cut to the main character boarding the plane.  Now the music changes to full-on frightening, horror soundtrack.  The music portrays his inner psychology – his feelings of fear.

News Event/World Crisis

If you create documentaries or news programming, then you may need, at times, to show painful footage from current world events.  This is another time where dark underscore works well.  It sets the underlying emotional atmosphere for the accompanying footage.

Part of every media producer’s soundtrack arsenal includes the ability to underscore fright, fear, and events that are difficult or harrowing.  Horror music tracks are like the dark colors, the dark shades in your soundtrack toolkit. Using them paints a chilly or terrifying picture.

Some horror soundtracks from UniqueTracks.com.  These stock music soundtracks also work for any Halloween productions you may be working on.

Premium Stock Music for Film, TV, Advertising and Interactive. Editor-selected, Easy Search, Fast Results UniqueTracks has a vast library of music loops and grooves plus a large selection of classical production music available for licensing into your production.

The best way to find stock music

Finding stock music in the jungleToo often choosing the right track from a stock music library is like hacking your way through an overgrown jungle with no map and no sense of direction. It’s a time-intensive, hit-or-miss process that requires listening to multitudes of the wrong selections.

After a while your brain becomes numb and everything blends together and sounds the same. To further complicate things, you’re often searching for soundtrack right at the project deadline so there is pressure to find tracks fast.

The fastest way to find the right background music for your work is to first identify the underlying feeling – the emotional thrust – of your production. Many project creators only think about what STYLE of music they want (i.e. Rock, Techno). A better way to proceed is to look for background music based on the emotional character of your work. When you know your project’s emotional themes, you will cut an incredible amount of time from your search.


This is what film composers do. After meeting with the director to discuss the film’s meaning and concept, the composer immerses him/herself into the film and begins to investigate its emotional essence.You can do the same thing. Here is a simple exercise to try with your own work.

  1. See yourself in each scene as an eyewitness to what is happening
  2. Become emotionally open to the events that occur.
  3. Freewrite your reactions. (Freewriting is writing that’s done quickly without any self-editing – you just want to get your ideas on paper in a way that you’ll remember)
  4. After the production is over, take your freewriting and look for 1-5 keyword phrases that best describe the emotion(s) of what you’ve experienced. This technique will work just as well for a 15 second Flash animation as an hour-length video documentary. In each case, you want to understand the emotion at the heart of your project so you can choose music that elevates your viewer’s experience.

Here’s an example of the process…

Let’s say you’re giving a 2 hour talk on “Better Time Management” and you want some background music to use in your PowerPoint at the beginning, end, and during the break.

You do the exercise above and here is a sample of your freewriting…


…better time management = organization,

productivity, structure…getting things done

a sense of being in control,- order – stress-free

living, flow, mind like water…


To derive your emotional keywords from this, look at the benefits of features like productivity and organization.

Benefit of productivity – accomplishment

Getting things done – satisfaction, freedom, liberation

Benefit of Organization/Order – peace, harmony, well-being

Now begin searching the stock music libraries listening for background music that highlights feelings of satisfaction, freedom, that gives a sense of peace, harmony, accomplishment. Remember, you’re still not locked into any specific musical style, you’re searching for music that will adequately speak to the emotional content of your work.

On the UniqueTracks Production Music Library website, we have sorted every track in our library by its corresponding emotional keywords. If you need a track to underscore the feeling of “satisfaction” or “peace”, all you have to do is click a link and you’ll be presented with a listing of all the tracks in our music library that correspond to those feelings.

Once you know the feeling you are looking for, finding the right background music track becomes much easier because, through the process of drilling down to the emotional core of your work, you have already filtered out most of the music choices that don’t apply. You have narrowed your search, created a map, and a way to avoid getting lost in the production music jungle.