How Does Cinematic Music Add Suspense To Movies And TV Shows?

how does cinematic music add suspense to movies and tv shows

Music has been used to entertain people for centuries and has also been used in movies to add suspense.

The pace and tone of the song, and the instruments used in the song can significantly affect the emotions translated throughout the movie scenes. Music adds an essential element to scenes, whether it’s for action or to scare the viewer. Without these specific choices it leaves scenes with too much talking and can be boring. If you would like to learn about what makes your favorite movies so great, then you should understand how production music for film and TV affects the suspense of the movies and shows. Suspense is added to movies and shows through cinematic songs.

Sudden changes in volume

One technique that is used to add suspense to movies is sudden changes in the volume. Horror movies are the best example that shows how the changes in volume can be effective. For example, the volume of the soundtrack may be lowered and then suddenly increased to go with the action that is being displayed on the screen, which can make the viewer jump in shock. Music can change the mood from a happy scene to a scene where something feels off. The ominous tones highlight that the main character could be in danger, making this exciting for the viewer.

Recurring beats

Recurring beats are also an effective technique to add suspense to shows. For example, a specific song can be used to tell the viewers when a scary character appears or whenever something bad is about to occur. This can make viewers feel on edge whenever they hear the song.

Another technique is using a recurring beat and then suddenly removing it, which can make viewers feel unsettled. It’s scary to watch a scene where there’s music and suddenly you don’t hear anything, adding to the suspense.

Jarring noises

Jarring noises or mysterious sounds can be added to a soundtrack to increase the tension as the events are unfolding, which will make the viewer feel on edge. A good example is the movie, Nightmare on Elm Street, where haunting nursery rhymes are played to make things appear very sinister, even before the fearsome character appears on the scene. Music that is considered sweet and calming for kids can cause grown adults nightmares if used correctly. These noises add ambiance to a horror or suspense film, giving the viewer a big scare.

Type of song used.

In some movies, pleasant songs are used in movies that are filled with unpleasant scenes, which causes dissonance between what the viewer sees and what they hear. Hearing certain songs used in a way to enhance the intensity of a scene can elevate the horror vibe. That is why it’s popular to do slower, reverb versions of different songs. It adds a scary element that people aren’t expecting. This can make the viewers feel uncomfortable.

Use of Drums

Drums provide rhythm, melody, and pace. In addition, drums draw the attention of the audience and can be used to build suspense by using false crescendos. For example, you may be led to believe that something exciting or terrifying is about to happen using drums. This is especially scary when characters are walking around in either a field or building with chill music in the background. Suddenly the mood changes and there are loud drums, signaling that something may be coming for them.


Dynamics refers to the volume of the soundtrack and whether there is a gradual rise or sudden drop in the volume. The gradual rise and sudden outburst are used to achieve the traditional story arch, where we experience a lot of action, followed by a climax. These scenes can be rather intense with loud sounds filling the background. Afterward, there is a falling action, where the pace gradually slows down and we get closer to a resolution, which is achieved by a gradual trailing from the soundtrack or silence. It helps the viewer understand the pace of the scene and where they are in the story.


Suspense can be added to movies and shows using soundtracks and songs through techniques. These include recurring beats, jarring noises, changes in the volume of the soundtracks, and the use of drums. However, the soundtracks and songs should add excitement and suspense to the movies without being intrusive or taking full attention away from what is on the screen. Having varying sounds and music can add excitement to the viewer. They understand what’s going on or if they should be scared just by the music alone. It’s important to add the right sounds and music in the background of suspenseful scenes to avoid confusing the viewer.


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