One of the trickiest production music styles to master is ‘quirky’ music. Like telling a good joke, creating interesting quirky music requires strong familiarity with what makes your audience tick as well as an expert sense of timing and composition.
As we release the creep-tacular sounds of Drunkin’ Punkin’ in time for Halloween, we decided to pool our collective knowledge of what goes into making the perfect quirky soundtrack and let you in on some song writing trade secrets…
Know the rules
– While quirky music should sound surprising and original, even leftfield, it shouldn’t shock the listener. The key is balancing competing elements.
– Understanding the rules of where to throw in an interesting element is key. Solid rhythms and the use of crescendos can act as signposts that a musical change is coming.
– Just like telling a great joke, quirky music needs a great lead up so when the punch line comes the audience knows the joke is complete.
– Remember: Set up your listeners expectations, then meet them in a creative way.
Needs a great melody
– Unlike many production music tracks that are all about the rhythm, quirky music relies heavily on the melodic line.
– Melodies that border on sing-song are perfect as they bring the irreverence and childlike glee that makes music quirky rather than weird.
– To blend in and out with other music and production sounds a great quirky track begins with a solid base of traditional instrumentation e.g. guitars, keys, percussion
– Uncommon or ‘twisted’ instruments bring something extra to your quirky productions. FirstCom Music Producer, Jason Rudd, suggests kazoos, jaw harp, and slide whistle. Other instruments you can try include xylophone, muted sax, or even a stylophone.
Knowledge of your market/audience
– Whether it’s slapstick comedy, animated children’s shows, or cult documentaries you need to know your market and audience.
– Quirky music relies on context more than most other styles
– Like a misplaced laughter track, quirky music can kill a scene meaning music supervisors are especially cautious
– Quirky music for children’s shows are likely to be bright and jovial, while adult orientated quirks may play on contextual dissonance, such as creating a Reggae-styled Christmas song.
Pick a great title
– Set your audiences expectations up early with album title, cover and description. This will allow you more freedom to play and surprise in your music.
– Rhymes, puns, and alliteration are all excellent ways of structuring a quirky album title, like on Drunkin’ Punkin’ our new collection of staggering Halloween tracks.