EITHER have underscoring music OR use sound effects
Not both all the time. A problem of balancing.
GETTING THE RIGHT BALANCE
DON'T HAVE MUSIC & FXS AND ATMOS FIGHT EACH OTHER
BEWARE OF MASKING SOUNDS - ONE SOUND OBLITERATES THE OTHER
Be careful when you balance music (music underscoring dialogue) with other FXs. The music and the sound effects have to be carefully balanced against each other. Once you use underscoring music, FXs will either have to go, or have to be used sparingly. The same masking problem applies to atmos and other sound effects in the scene, against the dialogue.
When you listen to all of the layers together, you will probably have to rebalance.
There is a special problem about music and singing.
The sung words (= the lyrics) will almost always fight against the dialogue.
It is very difficult to have underscoring music with lyrics under dialogue.
Only use underscoring music - for the most part.
Sometimes you may want to make a point about a particular song's lyrics being heard under the dialogue.
You can do this with care, but make the most of the music breaks (the parts of the song which are musical instruments, without the singer.)
Student Emily comments:
This is a point that Alan made during a class. I wasn't entirely convinced until I tried it myself.
The following refers to 'The Canterbury Vampires' - radio soap 2001 - episodes 16-20.
In 4.4.1 for example, the script indicates that Charity is on the phone: "Hello? Mrs . Williams? It's Charity. I got your message " but does not disclose her whereabouts until later on: "Where am I? I don't know! Between the crumbling walls and the bonfire?". Therefore, I began her phone conversation with some footsteps in a damp grassy area so that the listeners could at least hear that she was outside, and "pacing, as if she's nervous".
Yet, on top of that, I added the underscoring music "Undercurrent 1" to make the atmosphere more tense and scary.
As a result, the music worked well, but the footsteps become an irritating indescribable effect that the listener focuses on (instead of the dialogue) whilst trying to figure out what it is.
The same happened in 4.2.5, where I was so anxious for the listener to appreciate Charity and Abigail doing something that I added "pouring, stirring" and "clinking" effects to make it sound like they're having coffee.
However, when added to the underscoring music, the soundscape just becomes too cramped and confusing.
Note the Economy rule
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