Making Your Music More Cinematic: Atmospheres

In this 4 part tutorial series, I will take you through some practical and easy, yet super effective steps to make your themes more interesting, more cinematic and powerful.

In the following articles, we will take musical themes themes and enhance them using a mix of atmospheres and textures, booms, hits and transitions, ostinatos and layering.

These techniques and tips are not meant to teach you how to write new themes, but how to enhance existing themes to make them more interesting, powerful and cinematic. They are elements that enrich the main theme – by changing what’s around it.

Let’s take an image as an example. Look at the two images below.

 
 

The first picture contains only the main motive, the focus point. However, the second picture has context, space and might be a bit more interesting (though sometimes less is more!). The only thing changing between the two pics however, is only the background and surroundings – not the main element itself. Yet the picture feels completely different.

And that’s exactly what we’re going to do musically – starting with atmospheres and textures. To make another analogy to the painting, the atmospheric background is going to be the soft, blue sky that makes up the backdrop of our image.

Here is an example of the subtle but effective transformations of some themes by using these techniques. First is a simple piano theme, where atmospheres and booms are added to make it more cinematic:

 

Piano Theme

 

Before:

After:

Below is another example, where I arranged the same theme for strings and horn. But… it sounds a bit boring and dry, although the theme itself is good enough. So I spent 10 min and used the 4 techniques in this article series to freshen things up. Check out the before and after result:

Before: