Length of Captions for Instrumental Music


New Member
I am working on captioning some YouTube videos and some of them only have instrumental music. For example, if I have a 2-minute video of gentle piano music (with no speech), then I would start it off with a caption of:

[gentle piano music]

My question is how long I should leave that on the screen… does anyone know of any guidelines or recommendations?

I wondered if it should show the caption for the entire 2 minutes - but then I wondered if that might be annoying. What would you prefer?
  1. [gentle piano music] for the entire 2 minutes?
  2. [gentle piano music...] for the first 15 seconds?
  3. Something else?


Active Member
A few moments is enough.

A very long ago we had subtitles in cartoons with songs. All we needed to do was follow the ball which set the beat, melody and so on. If they could find a way to reintroduce that again built to follow whatever tune as it travels across the screen it would provide a sense of what is being played.


New Member
Thank you very much @Mart and @x1heavy! That is super helpful.

The follow up question I have is if I do it for a few moments at the beginning - if I need to also do something to let the viewer know that the music continues with no speech after the caption disappears. I guess my concern is how does the viewer know there is not any background speech happening once the "[gentle piano music]" caption goes off screen.

A couple of ideas might be:
  1. [gentle piano music...]

    (adding ellipsis (…) to indicate it continues)
  2. [gentle piano music]
    music continues without speech throughout video
Or maybe it is enough to just have the caption and the viewer who can assume that no caption means there is no speech?


Active Member
Failure of the cc requires the particular chip itself to fail. It was much more common in the bad old days where you needed to route the antenna signal through another box to get captioning. This was back before digital TV, so if you had too much snow or static thats it for captioning anyway. Digital well, you either had enough or not enough. On or off. On my TV if the video is inadequte it will switch a audio version.

I get my signal from Redfield in some channels its a 2000 foot tower about 80 miles from roughly where I am getting to it give or take 10 miles. If the atmosphere is too wet the signal wont get through well if at all. As a side note at one point in the 60's Redfield tower was the tallest in the then free world outside of the USSR.

What I did think is this. The CC space is the same as that used by Stations to show mini pictures of upcoming shows. That makes the CC go away for a few moments. I dont necessarily rely on CC however. If I had to I can route the audio through a set of amp speakers to boost them loud enough for the studio headsets to put it into my head.

The one time that CC works pretty much flawless is on You tube. I just finished a movie sum of all our fears a nuclear war epic and the captioning kept up nicely. although many of the things made when the film was made are no longer in active service that pretty much dates the film.


Well-Known Member
I saw recently just a musical note icon (don’t recall if it was one or two). That was clear that music without words was playing. That was displayed on screen for a few moments periodically until talking started again.