Tommy Kramer Tip #39 – “Staging” Music

Let’s talk about “staging” music—music that you might want to put under a break to enhance it.

First, ask yourself if you really need music for this break. It’s odd, when you think about it. If I meet you for lunch, I don’t just automatically plop a boom box down on the table and play music under our conversation. Often, jocks just reach for some piece of music with the mistaken notion that it “keeps the momentum” better. It can help momentum, but the wrong choice of music will NOT help the break, and having a music bed can make you lazy, since you’re not as sensitive to whether the break is moving along crisply or not.

Generic music = generic break. Grabbing some random uptempo cut from the Production library is silly, since it may not fit what you’re talking about. Now if you’re talking about baseball, it makes sense to “stage” it with music from “The Natural” or “Field of Dreams”, or an instrumental version of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” But if it’s just some Production music piece chugging along in the background, it may not be actually adding anything.

Here’s the right way to think of it. Use music that’s either…
(1) SUBJECT-specific (Star Wars music to talk about a discovery in space, the Olympics theme to talk about the games, music from a Western movie to talk about a local rodeo, etc.)


(2) MOOD-specific. Movies are full of music designed to “cradle” the emotion of a scene. (I’m not talking about songs included on a movie soundtrack. I mean the “incidental” music that helps create tension, or sets the stage for the action that will follow. And there are many scenes without music, because music would take away from what’s happening onscreen.)

If you use music wisely, your show will sound even more polished and produced. If you use it as a “crutch” habit, your show will sound more “paint by numbers” and stagey and artificial. I think the best advice would be that if you can find music that’s just right, use it. But if you can’t, then don’t use music that break.

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Tommy Kramer
Radio Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2014 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.