The Music of Sound

How do sound and music enhance your viewing experience?


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This audio series explores different types of sound and music and how they enhance films and commercials.

Age range: Good for 10-18 year olds.

Estimated Time: Give yourself some time! This audio series takes about 30 minutes to complete.

Key Technology: Teachers can choose to stream this audio clip on a computer with speakers or to let students listen individually on computers with headphones.

Think About

Listening Strategy: As you listen, stay focused on your purpose for listening. Find out how composers create mood or emphasis in films using sound music.

Before you get started, think of what you already know about exciting sounds and music. Keep this in mind as you listen to the series.

As you listen, compare and contrast the ways in which composers can transition audiences from one film scene to another.

As you listen, compare and contrast the ways in which sound designers can influence what the audions thinks about what they see.

As you listen, stop the audio track now and then to sum up what you have learned.


  • How do composers create a dramatic moment for listeners?
  • What type of music is often used to score science documentaries?
  • Where do sound designers get the sounds they use?

Critical Thinking

  • What are some instruments or sounds that you think are especially scary or disconcerting? Why do you think they are scary?
  • Why is it difficult to compose music that doesn’t make listeners feel anything?
  • How can sound influence what you think about what you see in a commercial?

Reflection: Quiz Yourself!

  • What is an emotionally neutral scene in a film and how do composers score it?
  • What kind of music and instruments would be used to score a predatory scene in a documentary?
  • What kinds of sounds help the visual images tell a story?

Learn More

Dig Deeper!

Learn more about scoring films.

Learn more about the process of scoring films.

Learn more about sound design.

For The Educator

Play clips of different scary instrumental music. Ask students to sketch what they are hearing. Have them choose one of their quick sketches to expand upon.

Have students suggest common items that could be used to create sound effects. Have them demonstrate how the sounds could be used to enhance a short video.

Show students a scene from a documentary like the one described in the audio clip. Ask them to create a brief score for the scene if they play an instrument or, if they don’t play an instrument, have students choose a sound clip or excerpt from a piece of music. Have some students create sound effects (footsteps, etc). Have students create different moods using sound music (e.g.: suspenseful, scary, happy).

If you have moviemaking software available such as iMovie, have small groups of students make short videos and then score them using the different audio clips and sound effects available in the program or using music the students have available to them.


This audio series explores different types of sound and music and how they enhance films and commercials. It is an excellent series for arts students and musicians. The audio series is suitable for both group and individual work.

Instructional Strategies

  • This audio series lends itself to large-group or individual listening as well as to both individual and group research.
  • Ask students to list the scariest movies they’ve seen and then to describe the sound effects music in the scariest scenes. If possible, download it from the internet.
  • Familiarize students with the effective sound effects and suspenseful music from films such as Star Wars, Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Psycho. An excellent soundboard is available at soundboard.com



Daniella Garran
Original Writer

David Furst

Editors & Producers

Richard Paul
Audio Producer

Kenny Neal
Manager, Digital Education Resources

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