When laying the dialogue over background music, let's say it's a party scene. Are you concern with portraying the reality, by keeping the music throughout the dialogue, Or you faded it out as the conversation gets more intense...?

By the way, How do u eq the background music? Which frequency do you cut? I was watching the scene from Kids (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcQhURrV900) They kept the background music quite loud, yet the dialougue is still very clear.

4 Answers 4


Ok, few questions in there.

Like we were talking about with dialogue yesterday, a lot of that is subjective. However, you need to make sure that, above all else, the dialogue is intelligible.

Music plays a lot with emotion. It should swell and dim appropriately. If the dialogue is getting intense and the music starts fading out, you are sending a message to the viewer that what is about to happen is very important. If dialogue is getting more intense and the music starts swelling, you start preparing the viewer for forward motion in the story, or a big turning point, or action. Most of it is just getting it to "feel right".

If you have very loud music, yet want to make your dialogue cut through, you can achieve that with a basic eq. If you have a frequency analyzer, throw it over the dialogue tracks and see where the dialogue is sitting. The intelligibility cues usually sit in the 2k-8k range. Try pulling out a few db from the music that range (not the whole range, but a generous Q). Sweep the eq around a bit and figure out when the dialogue pops through.

Another way to do it is to put an eq over the dialogue. Try that same Q in the mid frequencies, except this time, boost it by 6db or more. This is going to sound terrible. Don't worry about it. Sweep around the 2k - 8k range, with a fairly narrow Q (not notch narrow, but not really wide either). At some point, you will hear the dialogue all of a sudden get much louder. Figure out what frequency that is, then pull a bit of that frequency out of the music. REMEMBER to turn off the eq on the dialogue after you figure out what frequency it is!

Hope this helps a bit!


In addition to Colin's answer, there's a lovely frequency around 400Hz that when removed can help dialogue push through, while maintaining a loud volume.

Is the music diegetic? If so then adding the rooms reverb will instantly push it further back in the mix, which will obviously help matters too.

Sadly there's no right or wrong answer, although that's what makes it fun.


In addition to EQing, what I find tends to happen, is as soon as the dialog starts, the music is dropped. Wait untill the first word is spoken, as it's being said or just after it's said, the music drops. Maybe 4 or 5 db, sometimes more. I hear it happen in commercials all the time, and movies too.

In a scene like your discribing where the dialog gets more intense, I'd start by leaving music up to establish the scene. As soon as the dialog starts I'd drop it down. Then wait for the key moment or piece of dialog where it turns intense, then drop it some more or gragual fade. It really depends on the scene. That's a general sarting method, it really depends on the scene, and how you want the scene to progress.

The clever thing about droping the music at this point is that it's psychological. As soon as a character starts to speak you draw your attention to what they're saying. You don't even notice that the music just got quiter.


One of my favorite party dialogue scenes is from "The Social Network" when Mark and Sean are in a very loud club and are talking about business (

). Here the music of the club is very very loud and the dialogue is very quiet comparatively, almost intelligible. However, without the music the scene would be extremely boring and the audience would not pay any attention to what the characters are saying. I think music is a very important asset, especially in dialogue and can really make or break a scene.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.