Any suggestions for mellow instrumental background music for family videos and/or biographies?
December 14, 2003 10:24 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for good background music for videos that I'm editing together of family stuff, and later for personal biographies that I might do for people. I have only a tiny repertoire, and I can't use the same music for every family video. I'm thinking instrumental with a mellow vibe. Any suggestions?

As an idea of what I consider good, here is the Dream Academy doing "Please please please" from the Ferris Bueller soundtrack, I believe. That's kind of the vibe I am going for, though this particular example has a tinge of melancholy in it.

I once did a very nice short video of myself and my daughter playing with bubbles, set to the Beatles doing "Blackbird", so I don't completely rule out vocal tracks.

Also, I know that Green Day's "Time of your life" (or whatever it's called) is a great life-encapsulating type song for an end to a biography.

Thanks in advance for any ideas.
posted by beth to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Leo Kottke strums to mind. He has plenty of purely instrumental pieces. Everyone loves it.
posted by squirrel at 10:38 PM on December 14, 2003

The works of Air (Moon Safari in particular), David Axelrod and Serge Gainsbourg occur to me immediately.
posted by nthdegx at 10:41 PM on December 14, 2003

if you don't mind jazz violin, anything by stephane grappelli is pretty mellow; there are some more upbeat pieces and some more melancholy ones, but i think you could find something that'd fit well for your purposes.
posted by juv3nal at 11:17 PM on December 14, 2003

Look into Tortoise and all the standard downtempo electronica - Kruder and Dorfmeister, Tosca, Thievery Corporation, Saint Germain, even DJ Shadow... They're all great!

For folkiness, Leo Kottke was a great suggestion. More of the same can be found via John Fahey or Bert Jansch.
posted by Marquis at 11:47 PM on December 14, 2003

Kings of Convenience?

Wussy-norwegian-folky-puff or soothing-soulful-acoustic-norwegian-niceness?

Your call.

Or Fourtet's 'Pause' album. Or Nick Drake. Or Elliot Smith.
posted by backOfYourMind at 3:47 AM on December 15, 2003

Gumph! sorry, apart from Fourtet, those other artists aren't purely instrumental - but they are melancholy, mellow and acoustic, so the feel might be what you're after.
posted by backOfYourMind at 3:49 AM on December 15, 2003

The Penguin Cafe Orchestra has some very nonobtrusive instrumentals. I've used this for silent home movies that I've transferred to video in the past.

If you're looking for something a bit more upbeat, check out Raymond Scott's work. Besides being the musical genius behind some of the old cartoons, he was a pioneer in electronic music.

Also, the NPR radio show This American Life plays some neat music between stories. The have a list of some of the songs and sound clips on their web site.
posted by SteveInMaine at 4:29 AM on December 15, 2003

William ├śrbit's "Pieces In A Modern Style" is a nice little collection of classical pieces redone with 'modern' instruments.
posted by darainwa at 5:06 AM on December 15, 2003

Sianspheric provides great musical landscapes.
posted by jasonspaceman at 5:47 AM on December 15, 2003

May not be upbeat enough, but I like Lanterna:

"Rich in moody guitars and dreamy, thoughtful rhythyms, LANTERNA moves between the tranquil and the phantasmagoric. An ideal soundtrack for a road movie in slow motion."
posted by jalexei at 6:04 AM on December 15, 2003

posted by Stynxno at 6:48 AM on December 15, 2003

AppleFilter: If you're a Macintosh user, another benefit of a .Mac account is access to hundreds and hundreds of instrumental soundtracks from FreePlay Music. The link to them is hiding in the "Members Only" folder inside the "Software" folder on your iDisk. There are clips of each piece in a multitude of durations (starting at 10 seconds and working up to two or three minutes). They tend towards the "commercial sounding" (think "corporate training video" or "local newscast" and you're not far off) but they're free, they're professionally recorded and if you pick and choose carefully, there are some really great clips in there.
posted by JollyWanker at 8:13 AM on December 15, 2003

Jaco Pastorius
posted by Dick Paris at 9:02 AM on December 15, 2003

If you happen to be doing video of children, Iz's version of "Over the Rainbow" (on the Facing Future CD) is great (it's got vocals, but you can lower the volume). Apple used this song in one of their commercials.

For something very upbeat, try the Floral Dance from the Brassed Off soundtrack.

Busted Down Around O'Connelly Corners from the Doobie Brothers album The Captain and Me is 48 seconds long -- slow fadein and fadeout of acoustic guitar is perfect for short stuff.

A little less upbeat but still intriguing is Journey of the Sorcerer from the Eagles' One of These Nights. Great stuff with banjo and full orchestra.

Other sources: Songs of Distant Earth by Mike Oldfield, Soundtrack from The Sorcerer by Tangerine Dream, Bela Fleck, Liona Boyd, LA Guitar Quartet, Opera Sauvage by Vangelis, Enigma's Greatest Hits, Best of Adiemus (the last three might be commercial pap, but they make excellent background music because they are vaguely recognizable without being intrusive).
posted by joaquim at 9:17 AM on December 15, 2003

Response by poster: I actually did use Iz's "Over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World" for one of the earliest videos I made of my daughter. Great song. I fell in love with it after hearing it in an ad for eToys, I think.

Thanks for all the suggestions, people!
posted by beth at 9:44 PM on December 15, 2003

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