“Why is choosing the right music for Your Parkour video so important? What are You missing out on if you simply look for the most popular tracks? The Pro-Filmmaker Giles from Visive Productions gives valuable hints about how to pick the ideal music for Your parkour Video.”
This is a topic I have wanted to touch on ever since I was given the opportunity to contribute to this website and I feel it is something that a lot of people don’t give much thought to, while some others who do, may be burying their head in the sand so to conform to social norms.
Before I go into depth about the point I am trying to convey, lets just look at the definition of ‘Music.’
‘Vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion.’
When you think about it, thats gives you a pretty broad spectrum of what music can be and the huge realm of varied ‘music’ thats out there is a testament to this. ‘Music’ can pretty much be anything that involves a level of ‘organised sound.’
Now before you jump in with something like ‘Oh but only Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift sound beautiful so thats what real music is!’ Thats your opinion which is entirely subjective. We all have our own taste of music and thats where this whole topic gets incredibly sticky.
The basis of this blog and the question I want to pose to you is this:
Given that there are hundreds of different genres of music out there, why are the majority of Freerunning videos accompanied by such a small and usually similar range of them?
I feel you could take all the Freerunning videos made in the last 5 years and 75% of the music used would lie grouped together in a relatively small spectrum compared to whats really out there. Ranging from the electronic dubstep/glitch mob style to the happy Indie Rock found in so many travel videos through to varied Rap and Hip Hop so commonly used in athletes showreels. That sounds like a pretty broad range and depending on how eclectic your music taste is, it may be, but where’s the rest?
Now before I go any further I want to clear up a few things.
Firstly, I am completely guilty to falling into this trap and am by no means trying to put myself on a pedestal and call anyone out because ‘my taste is better’ or any crap like that. I meet people all the time who’s taste in music is so broad that I can’t comprehend how they have discovered so many artists.
‘Where’s the music that evokes thought and emotion? Wheres the Blues, the Jazz, the Classical, the Spoken Word, the Latin, the Ska, the Rock and everything else in-between?’
Secondly, I understand that a huge amount these choices are pretty much out of our control due to whats considered popular and fashionable thanks to, essentially what is brainwashing by the mainstream media. The word ‘brainwashing’ sounds like I am being very extreme but at the core of it, thats what it is. Music of a similar style and genre is played over and over throughout the day via numerous types of media until it becomes familiar and you’re suddenly convinced you like it. There’s a reason songs grow on you and its not because you suddenly feel a deep connection to Will.I.am’s love life, it’s because you’ve heard the song 30 times in the last week and know what words are coming next. If you want to read more on this topic here’s a short but informative article that goes a bit deeper into what I have just said. (Unfortunately this article has been put down – but maybe it sparks your interest to do some research on your own.)
Thirdly, music is by far one of the most important parts of video making and by using a song that is popular, or even just from a popular genre, you’re far more likely to get a good reception to the video because theres a level of familiarity to what is being watched. Video makers want their videos to do well so it makes sense to choose songs that will aid this rather than possibly detract some viewers.
But as a video maker, when do these conformed choices start to detract from the level of creativity and even emotion that you may want to put into your video? By using a familiar middle of the road song you’re essentially asking your viewers not to think about the music. You’re asking them to almost ignore what can potentially be one of the key parts of your video.
Obviously we’re talking about Freerunning videos here so movement is the real focus and if you’re just planning on throwing an action reel together, a safer song choice is going to maximise views. But if you’re looking at this from a filmmaking and more creative perceptive, why the hell are we not being more diverse with music?!
As filmmakers, we have an incredible power to influence our viewers. We can use new equipment that viewers and other creatives then desire. We can create new filming and editing styles that catch on and become popular and most commonly, we can use music that can open a viewers ears to an entire realm of sounds and genres they may not have ever known existed. Do you realise how ridiculously incredible that is?
Music is a horrendously powerful force and many people subconsciously base their entire lives around it. How they dress, who their friends are, what they do for hobbies. Even their outlook to life. All because different styles and genres convey such a varied range of emotion and feeling. The last thing I want is for a kid to spend the day being subjected to the mind numbingly crap music played through commercial media to then return home in hopes of chilling out and watching some freerunning videos, to then be subjected to more narcissistic drivel about ‘poppin bottles in the club!’
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a huge amount of commercial music and know far too many of the lyrics to Nicki Minaj’s ‘Superbass.’ I also know that not everyone is guilty to this and feel that things have been improving recently in some of the high production videos. What I want to see more of is when you come to making your next video, rather than thinking, I need a good ‘freerunning style’ song, is you thinking ‘I want a song that reflects my movement and who I am as a person.’
‘I would rather see what kind of a person you are than see that you can do the same roof gap as everyone else.’
My own experiences of this takes us all the way back to 2003/2004 when I used to spend every minute on my computer watching every available Freerunning video I could find, the majority of them being old Urban Freeflow videos. The man behind these at the time was the cowboy hat wearing Ben ‘Bam’ Milner and I can without a doubt say that his music choices in those early videos directly effected my musical tastes, and probably even partially the personality of who I am today.
You see back then, when there weren’t thousands of kids ready to bitch and moan about music in youtube comments, Bam was making those videos for a very small audience, and primarily himself. He was just an athlete, filming training sessions and trying to put his tastes and personality into his edits.
Three of my most memorable and musically influential videos from Bam are below.
I’m pretty certain that before this video I had no clue as to who Rage Against The Machine (2nd song) were and after watching it a few times I got my hands on every album I could!
Blues is something I rarely listen to out of choice but then whenever I do I wonder why I don’t do it more often. BB King was obviously one of the greats and this song compliments the jovial feel of this video so well.
This video was without a doubt the first time I had heard anything like Refused (2nd song) and I just remember being blown away by how fucking cool it sounded accompanied by the visuals of what at the time was very impressive movement.
As I said previously, I’m sure that without seeing videos like these when I was 13 I wouldn’t be into some of the heavier genres of music that I am today. This brings me neatly onto my next point.
Why is everyone so scared of heavier music?
At the end of 2014 I was asked by Storm Freerun to shoot and edit a video to introduce their new sponsored athletes. Given the miserable weather at the time and just generally feeling like doing something a bit different, we decided on a heavier song choice so we could produce a really powerful hard hitting video.
The result was an explosion of youtube comments acting as if Storm had just killed their pet cat all because of the song choice. Appreciation for any skill such as movement, filming or editing was thrown away because viewers couldn’t handle someone else’s taste being different to theirs.
Granted, the song is very aggressive and contains some pretty harsh lyrics, but due to the style of shooting and editing the video and music complement each other well. I still view it as one of my favourite edits of the last year.
We see a huge amount of heavier genres used in other action sports such as Skating, BMX, and Motorcross because they were around at the time that commercial pop and hip hop weren’t a dominant force in the charts. But freerunning is a young sport, it’s found its feet in a time where mainstream music consists of hip hop artists talking about themselves, indie bands singing about fake relationships and electronic music where a huge amount sounds the same.
Where’s the music that evokes thought and emotion? Wheres the Blues, the Jazz, the Classical, the Spoken Word, the Latin, the Ska, the Rock and everything else in-between?
I challenge you, next time you’re making a video, take a risk and put a bit more of yourself in there. I would rather see what kind of a person you are rather than see that you can do the same roof gap as everyone else.