5 music editing tips for Premiere Pro

Home Premiere Pro 20/02/2024 5 min read

Music is vital for any video as it helps tell your story, set the tone, and engage your audience. While big Hollywood blockbusters have scores composed alongside their visuals, most online content creators work with stock assets. Finding the perfect song is the first step, as editing your music to fit your video can be time-consuming and challenging. To help you, we put together our top 5 methods for editing music in your videos.

How to edit background music in a video

You can use many different techniques to edit music into your videos, which you choose will depend on your specific video composition. The best songs to use in video editing are tracks with consistent beats and a range of frequencies. 

If you choose a song that is inconsistent in its volume, you’ll have a harder time editing it into your video. Similarly, selecting a track with lyrics can cause issues under dialogue, so knowing how to edit your track is vital for a consistent and engaging sound mix.

Decrease frequencies instead of volume

Music is essential to telling an engaging story but can often be distracting under dialog. When learning how to edit a song in a video, many editors will lower the volume of the music track, but this isn’t the best way to achieve a clean audio mix.

Humans speak between about 1200 and 1800 Hz, while the music comes from a much more comprehensive frequency range. By playing around with the different frequencies, you can carve out a space on your music track for your voice to naturally sit in, allowing all the details to be heard.

  1. Edit your video and add your chosen track below it in the timeline.
  2. Hit C on your keyboard to use the Blade tool and create cuts in the track at the start and end of each section of the dialog.
  3. In the Effects panel, search for Simple Parametric EQ and add it to the sections covered with dialog.
  4. Select the section and go to the Effects Controls panel.
  5. Adjust the Q to 4 and the Boost -18.
  6. Play around with the Center settings to match the speaker’s vocal range –between 1200 and 1800 Hz.
  7. Right-click on the Simple Parametric EQ effect in the Effects Controls panel and choose Save Preset.
  8. Name your preset something easy to find – it will appear in your Effects Control panel, ready to drop onto any other track sections.
  9. Finally, add a small crossfade between the sections so the track adjusts whenever there is no dialog.

Cut to the music

Cutting up your music track is a fantastic way of making it feel like the track has been composed specifically for your project, and there are a few ways you can cut your music tracks to suit your editing style.

Cut on downbeat

Cutting the track allows you to match your edits to the beat of the music. If, for example, you’ve found the perfect track but it doesn’t time up with a ‘moment” in your video, you can use this method to achieve your ideal edit.

  1. Find the downbeat in the track you want to time your edit to.
  2. Using the Blade tool, splice the track on the downbeat.
  3. Delete the start of the track, and drag the end portion to match your edit.
  4. Grab the beginning of the audio track and drag it out to fill the rest of your timeline – your video will now cut in time to moment in the track you’ve chosen.
  5. Add a crossfade to the start of the track so it comes in gradually at the beginning.

Cut before the downbeat

As hard as you try to cut exactly on the downbeat, it may seem slightly out to you when watching it back. Our brains receive audio and visual information at different speeds, so even if it is only a fraction of a second, it will feel ”off” somehow.

To solve this, try moving your edit to cut just before or after the track’s downbeat. Don’t worry – you don’t need to re-edit your whole timeline.

  1. Highlight all the clips or portions of your track you want to move by one frame.
  2. Hold Control/Command and use the left or right arrow keys to move your highlighted portion one frame at a time.

Cut the audio

Sometimes, it is best to cut the music entirely, and this technique has several advantages when it comes to helping you tell your story. Cutting the music suddenly is a fantastic technique for highlighting a point in your video, for emotional impact, for emphasizing a moment, or for making a joke.

  1. Always cut your track on a downbeat so that the abrupt stop feels natural.
  2. Using the Blade tool (C), splice the track where you want to make an edit.
  3. Move the second portion of the track along the timeline to when you want the music to kick in again.

Manually rearrange your track

Sometimes, the only option is manually rearranging your entire track to fit your edits. As with any manual editing process, this can take some time, depending on how extensive your project is. However, this method will help you create a seamless track with your visuals.

For this technique, you need to have a basic understanding of how music is constructed. All songs will follow a beat that repeats over and over again. This might be 4/4 or 3/3, but you should be able to identify the beat pattern by listening carefully. You can also look at your Audio Waveform, as the beat often stands out as a repeating peak in the wave.

You can cut entire sections from a track, duplicate sections, and reorder them as long as you follow the beat pattern. 

  1. Once you have identified your beat pattern, for example, 1, 2, 3, 4, go through your track and cut on the number 1 beats.
  2. Rearrange your track as needed, ensure the beats always follow 1, 2, 3, 4.
  3. Add small crossfades between the sections where the difference in the other instruments is noticeable.

Note: You must carefully consider which parts of your track you remove or rearrange for this technique to work smoothly. If, for example, you have a track where the instrumentation continuously builds, it can be challenging editing the start and end of your track together.

Echo out

You might need to find a track to match if you want to create an abrupt and dramatic ending to your video. However, with the Studio Reverb effect, you can make any track feel like it’s ended naturally.

  1. Find a downbeat in your track where you want the piece to end.
  2. Create a cut in your track just before and just after the downbeat.
  3. Delete the end of the track so you are left with the start and a tiny section with a single downbeat – we’ll call this the echo section.
  4. Right-click the echo section of your audio clip and choose Nest.
  5. Double-click the section to open the nested sequence.
  6. Hold Alt and drag the echo section to the track below to create a duplicate.
  7. Right-click and enable, stretch as long as you want
  8. In the nested sequence, fade out the track.
  9. Go back to the main sequence and increase the length of the section.
  10. Find the Studio Reverb effect in the Effects panel and add it to your echo section.
  11. In the Effects Control panel, click the Edit button.
  12. In the pop-up panel, choose from the Presets menu.
  13. Play around with the settings until you find the echo style you like.

Remix tool

If you don’t have time to play around with your track’s arrangement manually, the Premiere Pro Remix AI tool is the simplest and quickest way to edit your song.

  1. Click and hold on to the Ripple Edit tool in the toolbar and choose Remix tool from the drop-down menu.
  2. Grab the end of your music track and drag it to your desired length.
  3. In the Essential Sound panel, find the Customize drop-down.
  4. Play around with the Segments and Variations setting until you have a remix you’re happy with.

Music is vital to any video project, so it’s essential that you get it right. With these techniques, you can spend your time making your ideal track fit your video, creating an engaging experience for your viewers. If you want to find some of the best songs to use in your videos, check out Motion Arrays’ extensive library of royalty-free songs and scores that you can download today.