Tips for Cutting Music

Here are some tips for editing music in your project.

Use the natural beginnings and endings of music clips for your edits

Instead of fading a piece of music in and out of a sequence at random points, try matching specific parts of the music with parts of the video clips in the sequence for a dramatic impact. Then, at the points where you need to start and end this music in your sequence, edit in the beginning and the ending from that track, lining them up to match the rhythm and melody of the part of the track that you’re using.

Using a music track’s natural beginning and end sounds much better than just cutting into the middle of it, and you can usually create a series of edits using different pieces of the same musical track to make it work.

Use subframe syncing to keep music on the beat

Since music has a consistent rhythm, inconsistencies in the rhythm caused by edits to a music track can be painfully obvious. Since one-frame increments are rarely detailed enough to ensure perfect sync of rhythm in a track, use subframe syncing for each segment that you edit to make sure the edit points between two clips from the same song are in rhythm.

Checkerboard the audio segments you’re using to create better cross fading

Instead of using cross fades to transition between two edited clips from the same music track, edit them together across multiple tracks in your sequence:

Figure. Timeline window showing cross fade transitions between stereo clip items in two tracks.

Figure. Timeline window showing stereo clip items staggered across four tracks, with audio level overlays creating cross fades between clips.

Now you can use the audio level overlay to create cross fades that are as long as you need, creating the shape that will make the transition from one clip to the next least noticeable.

When you cut from a picture to music, don’t always cut on the beat

Sometimes, lining up a video edit on a significant beat in the music can have fantastic results. Sometimes, however, it’s overused. Especially in music videos, remember to make some cuts that don’t match the beat of the music. Otherwise, your edits will be predictable, and ultimately tedious, to the viewer.