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Movie-Making Magic

Manipulating Music

Dun dun dun... Think about it: A movie without music wouldn't be much of a movie, right? Whether we notice it or not, film directors are constantly using music and sound to influence our emotions while we're watching. Today, you'll explore how music is used to enhance the actions that take place on-screen. You might even find yourself manipulating your own soundtrack.


what you’ll need



Ask About Today

Can you tell me how filmmakers choose the music they use in movies? What impact does music have on movies and audiences?

Dinner Discussion

If you could invent one special effect for a movie, what would it be and why would it make movies better?

Skip the Ads

Unfortunately, online videos often start with short advertisements. Remind your campers to click the "Skip" button as soon as they can to move ahead to the video.


30-45 minutes

The music in film—from subtle background music to an inspirational song—is essential for evoking emotions from the audience. (You might even say the music is "instrumental" to a movie. Get it?) Find out how filmmakers and composers make it happen.


Musical Feelings

In this very simple black and white scene, how do the 5 different types of music affect your feelings as you watch?

Remember: Online videos often start with advertisements. (Annoying, we agree!) Click the "Skip" button as soon as you can to move ahead to the video.


Creating Music for Movies

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When you're making music for a movie, how do you even know where to start? In this video, composer Simon Cade walks through the process and explains how small changes in tone and rhythm can shape the feeling of the music.


Tearful Tunes

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Pixar wants to make you cry. Music is part of how they do it. (Get your tissues handy.)


When Music Is a Main Character

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In the animated movie Soul, music is a main character. See how the filmmakers and musicians behind the movie brought it to life in this short video.


The Music of a Galaxy Far Far Away

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John Williams is the acclaimed composer behind the music of Star Wars. Watch as he explains how he thought about composing the music for The Force Awakens.


45-60 minutes

Music is part of the magic of a movie. Try it for yourself.


A "One-Thing" Film

Take a walk with your sibling or another family member today. With permission from your parent or guardian, take your phone with you. As you walk, pick just one thing to film: It might be a leaf, a squirrel, a stray cat, or your walking buddy—just make sure it's moving.

No phone? No worries! On your walk, sketch out three scenes you observe. On the back of each scene, create a soundtrack list for that scene. If your life was a movie, which songs would be on the soundtrack?


Make Your Own Soundtrack

After your walk, choose a song (or a few songs) that capture the mood of your clip. Using a free filmmaking app like iMovie (for Apple) or Film Maker Pro (for Android devices), add this music to the background of your clip.

Try to capture a specific mood: Do you want your audience to feel excited? Nervous? Sentimental? Pairing just the right music can make the same video clip feel very different.

Ask Your Parents: Film Maker Pro (for Android) and iMovie (for Apple) are both free apps for filmmaking, but make sure you check with a parent or guardian before downloading anything.


Create Your Own Beat

Practice your music making abilities and make your own soundtrack. Create your own captivating beat and learn about the sounds that go into a background movie score. Is your beat suspenseful? Does it sound adventurous? Try to capture the emotions of your audience by bringing your ideas to life using this free learning tool from Ableton!


30-45 minutes

Time to get moving to our favorite movie soundtracks.


Musical Movement

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Start at Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube and find the soundtrack to your favorite movie. Maybe it's The Lion King? Ghostbusters? Black Panther? (You might find us dancing to Moana around here... no judgment, please.) Then get moving: Follow along with our favorite P.E. teacher, Coach Joe, while you listen.

Ask Your Parents: Movie soundtracks are usually available for free listening online. If you're having trouble finding your favorite, ask an adult or big sibling for a little help.