Music may have charms to soothe the savage beast, but an expertly timed flurry of spiky strings can make me toss a tub of popcorn a yard or two.
And that’s if I stay in my seat.
Soundtracks have powerful effects on our emotions. They can have us raring to ride along with an adventure flick, or heighten the pathos of a three-hanky tearjerker.
Since the motion picture industry uses soundtracks so effectively to manipulate audience moods, I started wondering if we could do the same thing at work.
Some of you whose workdays are already numbed with Muzak might be wincing.
Don’t worry, I’m not talking about the kind of music you hear when you’re waiting on hold for a customer service representative.
I’m talking about using music to manipulate your emotions to make yourself more effective at work.
Some iPod enthusiasts might take out your ear-buds long enough to rave about how much music you’re carrying around in your shirt pocket, but that’s not the point.
Your iPod is probably full of music you like to listen to, but aural pleasure isn’t the essential point of a soundtrack. I think a soundtrack is designed to be a stealth mood altering mechanism, affecting how you feel without calling attention to itself.
Here are some soundtrack elements I think we’d all find useful at work:
A Busy Background Montage – Have you ever had a project that involves a lot of little steps? They might not look like much, but they have to be done and we know they’ll contribute to a larger final product. In a movie, these moments would pass quickly in a montage, with some snappy music carrying us all forward. Try imagining the music in real life.
The Chase Scene – Whether you’re racing a deadline or tracking down facts for a report, think how great it would be to have some pulse-pounding music behind you, something to energize you, keep you racing towards the finish and let everyone around you know that you’re going to be the hero of this tale.
The Dramatic Crescendo – Say you’re walking in to give a presentation, or maybe going in to ask your boss for a raise… Wouldn’t it be nice to have a sound bed of strings lending you aural and moral support, and highlighting just how important these steps are?
The Slow-Mo Fadeout – Garageband has a podcast sound loop called “Yearbook,” that seems made to accompany slow motion, congratulatory high-fiving. Since we don’t have many moments of completion in the world of work, try hearing this kind of music, if only in your head, when you want to acknowledge the end of something.
by Danielle Dresden