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Film Music Influences How Viewers Relate to Movie Characters



Film music has powerful aesthetic effects on the perception and understanding of screen content, but does it also influence viewers' sense of connection with movie characters thereby creating antecedents for an experience of empathy? Participants viewed clips showing characters' neutral or ambiguous reaction to an event, person, or object. Viewers rated character likability and their certainty about characters' thoughts in three conditions: thriller music, melodrama music, and no music. The effect of music conditions differed significantly from the no music condition. Compared to melodramatic music, thriller music significantly lowered likability and certainty about characters' thoughts. During subsequent cued recall of screen content, thriller music increased anger attributions and lowered sadness attributions, while melodramatic music increased love attributions and lowered fear attributions. The study provides evidence that film music can influence character likability and the certainty of knowing the character's thoughts, which are antecedents of empathetic concern and emphatic accuracy. Thus film music may be regarded as modulating antecedents of empathic concern and empathic accuracy.
Film Music Influences How Viewers Relate to Movie Characters
Berthold Hoeckner, Emma W. Wyatt, Jean Decety, and Howard Nusbaum
University of Chicago
Film music has powerful aesthetic effects on the perception and understanding of screen content, but does
it also influence viewers’ sense of connection with movie characters thereby creating antecedents for an
experience of empathy? Participants viewed clips showing characters’ neutral or ambiguous reaction to
an event, person, or object. Viewers rated character likability and their certainty about characters’
thoughts in three conditions: thriller music, melodrama music, and no music. The effect of music
conditions differed significantly from the no music condition. Compared to melodramatic music, thriller
music significantly lowered likability and certainty about characters’ thoughts. During subsequent cued
recall of screen content, thriller music increased anger attributions and lowered sadness attributions,
while melodramatic music increased love attributions and lowered fear attributions. The study provides
evidence that film music can influence character likability and the certainty of knowing the character’s
thoughts, which are antecedents of empathetic concern and emphatic accuracy. Thus film music may be
regarded as modulating antecedents of empathic concern and empathic accuracy.
Keywords: film music, mass media, character perception, empathy
The film composer Bernard Hermann, famous for his collabo-
rations with Alfred Hitchcock, once captured the aesthetic premise
of his craft by remarking that “music on the screen can seek out
and intensify the inner thoughts of the characters. It can invest a
scene with terror, grandeur, gaiety, or misery [. . .] it is the com-
municating link between the screen and the audience, reaching out
and enveloping all into one single experience” (cited in Thomas,
1979). Experimental research on effects of film music is still an
emergent field, but psychologists have put forward helpful theories
about how underscoring relates to visual content and guides its
interpretation. According to the Congruence-Associationist Model
(Cohen, 2005), music may direct the perception of viewers to
visual elements, whose properties are temporally and structurally
congruent (Bolivar, Cohen, & Fentress, 1994). Viewers process
this information through association with prior knowledge which
allows them to construct a “working narrative” of the film. Music
also contributes to the cognitive processing of screen content by
activating schemas that provide an interpretive framework for the
visuals (Boltz, 2001). However, if different types of music can
shape, for example, viewers’ understanding of a character’s ac-
tions, emotions, and intentions (Boltz, 2001; Marshall & Cohen,
1988; Tan, Spackman, & Bezdek, 2007), and influence viewers’
evaluation of that character (Shevy, 2007), we wanted to know
what influence music’s effect on understanding and evaluation
might have on the relationship between viewer and character.
Recent film theory has assumed that most mainstream movies
invite audiences to establish a relationship with screen characters
based on “a reliable access to the character’s state of mind, on
understanding the context of the character’s actions, and having
morally evaluated the character on the basis of this knowledge”
(Smith, 1994). Since such knowledge might become an antecedent
for a viewer’s empathic response to a movie character (Davis,
Hull, Young, & Warren, 1987; Decety & Batson, 2007; Plantinga,
1999), in the present study we were interested how music specif-
ically might contribute knowledge that would become an anteced-
ent for such an empathic response. Empathy has been described as
a composite of two processes: an automatic, nonreflexive, and
unconscious emotional process that supports the “bottom-up” dis-
position to feel like another person; and an intentional, reflexive
and conscious process that regulates this disposition “top-down” in
order to achieve prosocial goals, such as helping the other person
(Decety & Meyer, 2008). A crucial condition for experiencing
empathy is the cognitive ability to monitor self-other awareness
during perspective taking and control the automatic process that
leads to the merging of self and other (Aron, Aron, Tudor, &
Nelson,1991; Cialdini, Brown, Lewis, Luce, & Neuberg, 1997;
Lamm, Batson, & Decety, 2007).
If film music contributes to viewers’ understanding and evalu-
ation of a movie character, we asked first what effect film music
might have on viewers’ fondness for a character. If film music
increased or lowered viewers’ likability judgments of a character,
it would become an unconscious modulator of empathic concern,
which is the willingness to put oneself into the some else’s shoes
(Batson, Early, & Salvarini, 1997). Since music can serve as a
source of information about a character’s mental state, we also
wondered whether underscoring can change viewers’ sense of
empathic accuracy or theory of mind, which is the attribution of
beliefs, intents, thoughts, and feelings (Ickes, 1997). We then
This article was published Online First January 17, 2011.
Berthold Hoeckner, Department of Music, University of Chicago; Emma
W. Wyatt, Department of Psychology, University of Chicago; Jean Decety
and Howard Nusbaum, Department of Psychology and Center for Social
and Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Chicago.
This study was supported in part by a New Directions Fellowship from
the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and in part by a grant from the John
Templeton Foundation.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Berthold
Hoeckner, Department of Music, University of Chicago, 1010 East 59th
Street, Chicago, IL 60637. E-mail:
Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts © 2011 American Psychological Association
2011, Vol. 5, No. 2, 146–153 1931-3896/11/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/a0021544
asked whether film music, by creating a context of emotional and
narrative certainty or uncertainty, would increase or lower view-
ers’ confidence of knowing what a character is thinking or feeling.
To answer these questions we developed an experimental par-
adigm based on a principal element of cinematic storytelling: the
reaction shot (see Figure 1). Showing a character’s response to an
event, object, or person, the reaction shot allows viewers to rec-
ognize the character’s thoughts and feelings and to use this knowl-
edge to form a relationship with the character (Carroll & Russell,
1997; Gaut, 1999; Plantinga, 1999). The reaction shot thus pres-
ents an aesthetic equivalent to studies in emotion recognition and
in theory of mind. These studies use facial expression as a source
of information about mental states and measure its effect on
observers through emotional contagion and affective congruence
(Ekman, Freisen, & Ancoli, 1980; Langdon, Coltheart, & Ward,
2006). Indeed, early manuals for silent film accompaniment sug-
gested that pianist and organists “should be endowed with psycho-
logical insight” and “should, above all, learn to read facial expres-
sions” (Lang & West, 1920). Since music often serves as a source
of emotion in film (Cohen, 2001), a recent study has shown that
different instrumental rock music can influence the overall mood
of an extended music video with a complex narrative, so that
happy or ominous music led to a positive or negative evaluation of
the overall video, the main character, and the world depicted in a
music-congruent direction—happy music showing the strongest
effect on evaluation equivalent to that of the main character
(Shevy, 2007). Hence we used the cinematic archetype of the
reaction shot to focus viewers’ attention to the character as the
most prominent element of each clip. Moreover, to avoid drawing
attention to the music, none of the clips contained a visual refer-
ence to music or music making, and we used the technique of
nondiegetic underscoring. Finally, since the use of musical sche-
mas in ambiguous scenes can “encourage viewers to generate
inferences about the characters’ motivations, personality, and emo-
tional reactions to different events in lieu of explicitly stating this
information in the story’s dialogue and ongoing action” (Boltz,
2001, p. 447), we combined reaction shots showing an ambiguous
or neutral facial expression with two different types of film music.
We used melodramatic music to project vulnerability and tragic
loss, and thriller music to create a sense of suspense and danger.
We predicted that, compared with clips seen without music, melo-
dramatic music would provide an interpretive context in which
viewers would attribute to the character a distinct feeling of
sadness and thereby increase their inclination to identify with the
character. As the feeling of sadness would increase viewers’ cer-
tainty of knowing the character’s thoughts, the impulse to feel with
the character would also make her or him more likable. By
contrast, we predicted that the thriller music condition would
create a context of ominous uncertainty which would make it more
difficult for viewers to determine the character’s precise state of
mind and lower their inclination to put themselves in the charac-
ter’s shoes. Thus we expected thriller music to decrease both
likability and certainty judgments in ways congruent with the
overall sense of the music. Finally, since film music has been
shown to influence viewers’ memory of a clip (Boltz, Schulkind,
& Kantra, 1991; Boltz, 2004), we also used a reaction-shot cued
recall task to test whether music had an effect on what viewers
Figure 1. The experimental paradigm. Participants saw movie clips ending with a reaction shot of a character
and shown in two music conditions (thriller and melodramatic music) and one no-music condition. After each
clip participants did a likability and theory-of-mind rating. Cued by a still image, participations were asked to
recall details from the clip. Still images courtesy of Janus Films.
remembered about the clip, including their memory of the char-
acter’s feelings.
Thirty-six undergraduates (age range: 18–24 years; 19 women, 17
men) from the University of Chicago participated in the study which
was approved by the University of Chicago Institutional Review
Board. Participants were recruited through the University’s Re-
search Participation website. Four participants (three women and
one man) were excluded from the study, since they had substantial
film expertise or mentioned during debriefing that music served as
the manipulation. All participants received $10 per hour in com-
Stimulus Materials
The audiovisual stimuli consisted of 38 clips, including 10
distracter clips. Clip length ranged from 18 to 42 seconds (mean of
29 seconds). The clips were taken from American and non-
American films (no blockbusters) and edited using a commercial
film editing program. All 28 test clips (see Appendix) were edited
to end in close-up or medium close-up shot of a character, showing
the reaction to what the character saw in the preceding shot or
within the same take. Test clips contained no dialogue but natural
sound effects and ambient noise. Clips were made to fade out to
make them appear more realistic. In all test reaction shots, the
character’s facial expression was neutral or ambiguous. Still im-
ages of the reaction shot used for a recall task were pretested by 10
independent raters for displaying joy, love, surprise, fear, anger,
sadness, or a neutral or ambiguous expression. Raters confirmed
that no emotion was significantly more prominent than the neutral
or ambiguous expression.
Each of the 28 test clips was scored with a unique piece of
instrumental film music, taken from commercially available
soundtracks (see Appendix). The use of preexisting music as
temp-scores for test screenings is standard procedure in the film
industry. Musical cues were selected as either melodramatic or
thriller music, while the distracter clips were paired with nonspe-
cific film music. Two independent raters pretested and confirmed
that melodrama and thriller music differed significantly in four
basic properties: being more consonant or more dissonant, having
a smaller or greater variety of timbre, possessing greater or lesser
regularity of rhythmic onsets, and covering a smaller or greater
dynamic range. To address the issue of whether the music selected
to represent the two genre categories was perceived as different,
we also ran a pretest in which five participants listened to 60 music
clips (30 melodrama and 30 thriller clips) from which the 56 test
clips had been chosen in a randomized order, rating each clip on a
scale of 1–5 (with “1” corresponding to prototypical melodramatic
music and “5” corresponding to prototypical thriller music). In the
introductory prompt, the melodramatic genre was defined as sen-
timental, sad, romantic, tender, and passionate, whereas the thriller
genre was defined as ominous, forceful, exciting, tense, and bold.
An independent samples ttest showed a significant difference
between the two types of music (t(4) ⫽⫺17.596, p.001:
1.640, SE
0.153, M
0.056). Musical excerpts thus fulfilled the character-
istics of the two genres.
Treatment conditions. Three groups of participants were
tested using all 38 stimuli. For two of the groups with eight
participants each, the assignment of music to clips was counter-
balanced so that in one group, clips 1–14 were paired with melo-
dramatic scores and clips 15–28 were paired with thriller scores;
for the second group, the assignment of clips to music was re-
versed. Both groups viewed the same set of 10 distracter clips
(clips 29–38). The third group consisting of 16 participants viewed
all of these clips without music. All clips were presented in random
order for each participant and across treatment groups.
Likability and theory of mind judgment. Each session
began with instructions followed by one unrelated practice ques-
tion for the participant to become acquainted with the sliding bar
scale to set responses. The sliding bar scale displayed seven tick
marks. For the likability question responses ranged from “Very
Unlikable” to “Very Likable.” For the certainty of thoughts ques-
tion, the scale ranged from “Very Uncertain” to “Very Certain.”
Each clip was followed by two questions, each presented on a
separate screen and always in the same order: “How unlikeable or
likable is this character?” and “How certain are you that you know
what the character is thinking?” After setting the sliding bar scale
response, participants controlled the advancement of the trial
events using a button press. This portion of the experiment lasted
approximately 25 minutes. Sound was delivered through computer
speakers located behind the participant with the volume ranging
from 60 to 70 dB for each clip.
Recall task with emotion attribution. After completing the
first phase of the experiment, participants received oral instruc-
tions for a second task involving recall of the original clips cued by
still images taken from the reaction shot of the main character.
Stills were presented in a randomized order for 45 seconds on a
timed loop, with two questions appearing above each picture to be
orally answered in the 45 seconds provided.
What happened in the original clip, providing as much detail
as possible?
What was this character feeling?
Participants were aware that their responses were recorded as
voice memos on an i-pod. After the experiment, participants were
debriefed to find out whether they had recognized any of the clips
and remained innocent to the purpose of the experiment, especially
the role of music.
Data Analysis
The experimental design was primarily intended to compare the
effects of two genres of music (thriller vs. melodrama) on em-
pathic responses to characters depicted in video clips. In order to
increase statistical sensitivity to detect differences, all clips were
used with one genre or the other, to maximize the number of
observations with no participant seeing the same clip in different
conditions. This contrast can only detect a difference between
genre conditions using all the clips, while counterbalancing clip
assignment to music genre across participants. In order to examine
the effect of music versus no music on understanding the clips,
another group of participants experienced all the clips without
music. As a result, this design focused first on the primary question
of effect of music genre, and second on the effect of music relative
to no music, complicates the analysis of results.
Two different analyses were carried out to address the research
questions. The first treats video clip as the unit of observation with
each clip being tested in melodrama, thriller, and video-only
conditions. A mean score for each clip in each condition was
averaged over all the participants who experienced that particular
clip in that condition. The analysis was then carried out across
clips using these means, much as a by-stimulus analysis is carried
out in many psycholinguistic studies (cf. Clark, 1973). A typical
statistical analysis would compare differences in the scores ob-
served for each condition across participants treating participants
as the “unit of observation” randomly sampled from the popula-
tion. For each participant, the scores in a condition are derived
from an average of all the responses to the stimuli in that condition,
thereby stabilizing the estimate of behavior through the law of
large numbers. Significant differences from this analysis suggests
that on average these participants respond differently in the con-
ditions that are compared. By comparison, a by-stimulus analysis
treats stimuli as the unit of analysis rather than participants. Scores
are averaged over participants for each stimulus in each condition.
Since stimuli are not truly randomly sampled but are typically
constructed for specific conditions, it is important to assess that the
differences among conditions that are observed by participants
also hold when stimuli are the basis of the analysis. If this analysis
turns out to be significant, it means that on average the stimuli in
one condition are responded to differently than stimuli in another
condition. This means that the effects are not a consequence of a
small number of unusual stimuli but hold generally over the entire
set within a condition. This analysis directly compares each of the
two music conditions with the no-music condition, taking into
account the fact that the same clip was tested in each of those
conditions and compared against itself, although the participants
that contributed to the mean response for each clip were different
across conditions.
The second analysis was carried out by participants rather than
by clip. For each participant in each condition, a mean response
was calculated regardless of clip. Half of the participants provided
responses in the two music conditions and half in the no-music
condition. Thus we could not test across the two genres and
no-music using a simple ANOVA design. To avoid repeated
multiple testing of the same data, we carried out a more conser-
vative between-subjects analysis treating the participants in the
different genre conditions as if they were different observers. This
reduces the likelihood of finding a significant difference among
When analyzed by clip, the two genres of music significantly
affected the judged likability of a character compared to the
no-music condition, F(2, 54) 62.81, p.001. In order to assess
which pairs of conditions (among the three) differed from each
other, planned contrasts (restricted Ftests using error variance
from the omnibus test) were carried out. Planned contrasts showed
(all p.001) that a pictured character was liked the best with
melodrama music (mean rating 62.6, SD 7.3), which was
significantly greater than the no-music condition (mean rating
55.4, SD 6.8), which was significantly greater than in the thriller
music condition (mean rating 43.9, SD 10.1). Thus music
strongly influenced the likability of characters both by increasing
liking with melodrama (compared to no music) and by decreasing
liking with thriller music (compared to no music and to melo-
This pattern of results was also observed when likability re-
sponses were analyzed by subject. The two genres of music and
video-only conditions produced significantly different likability
responses, F(2, 45) 31.59, p.0001. Melodrama music pro-
duced the greatest liking with no music the next greatest liking and
thriller music the least (all differences at p.05 by post hoc
Scheffe´ tests). Both analyses show that melodrama music increases
liking and thriller music decreases liking of a character relative to
no music.
When analyzed by clip, music also had a significant effect on
participants’ certainty about a movie character’s thoughts, F(2,
54) 5.55, p.006. Planned comparisons (significant at p.05)
among the three conditions showed that melodrama significantly
increased certainty about thoughts (mean rating 58.0, SD
14.1) compared to no music (mean rating 53.1, SD 8.3) and
thriller (mean rating 48.6, SD 14.2), but that thriller was not
different from no music. When analyzed by subject, the same
general pattern of results was found, F(2, 45) 3.20, p.05.
Melodrama increased certainty of thoughts compared to thriller
music (Scheffe´ post hoc test, p.05) but was not any greater than
the no-music condition. Thriller and no-music conditions did not
differ from each other. Although thriller music produced estimates
of knowing a character’s thoughts that were numerically lower
than the no music condition, melodrama significantly increased
that certainty.
Recall responses were coded for mention of six basic emotions
(anger, sadness, fear, love, joy, and surprise). Recall was near
ceiling on this task with an average recall rate of 97%. Emotion
scoring was achieved by assigning 1 point for each response that
attributed emotion to the character in question. If only one emotion
was mentioned in the response (simple repetitions were not
counted), the entire point was scored under that emotion category.
If participants mentioned different emotions or described multiple
scenarios that supported different emotions, each emotion men-
tioned received the appropriate proportion of 1.
Music also had a significant effect on the subsequent attribution
of four emotions: Anger, F(2, 14) 30.79, p.01, Sadness, F(2,
14) 9.97, p.01, Fear, F(2, 14) 6.93, p.01, and Love,
F(2, 14) 4.78, p.05. Anger was mentioned significantly more
often (p.05) and sadness significantly less often (p.05) when
participants were recalling scenes accompanied by thriller music
compared to those same scenes accompanied by melodramatic
music or no music. Love was mentioned significantly more often
(p.05) and fear significantly less often (p.05) when the
participant viewed a clip with melodramatic music compared to
thriller music. Emotion attributions in the no-music condition were
not significantly different from the melodrama condition.
Using different genres of film music to underscore the neutral or
ambiguous reaction shots of a character, our experiments demon-
strate for the first time that film musical schemas influence how
much viewers like or dislike a character and how confident view-
ers feel about how well they know a character’s thoughts. We also
found that in subsequently recalling the clips, viewers attributed to
a character’s emotions that were congruent with the context cre-
ated by the musical genre.
These results support long-standing practices in the film indus-
try. Since the silent era, compilers and composers of film music
have used musical schemas to guide audiences in their understand-
ing of the pictures (Erdmann & Becce, 1927; Rape´e, 1924). Today
this practice continues to be refined by companies that distribute
production or library music for a wide range of stereotypical
genres to a host of media clients. While musical underscoring
reinforces or adds information to screen content, it provides guid-
ance for audiences especially when disambiguating neutral or
ambiguous visual content, whose meaning is defined by the affec-
tive meaning of the music (Boltz, 2001; Marshall & Cohen, 1988).
Film composers and instructors of film scoring commonly speak of
this practice as “music doing all the work.”
However, our results also demonstrate that such powerful and
distinct schemas as melodrama and thriller music do not just
follow conventional practices to fulfill cultural expectations by
projecting sadness or suspense onto the neutral or ambiguous
reaction of a character, but also by influencing how viewers relate
to that character. The fact that film music has often been labeled as
mood music (Rape´e, 1924; Lanza, 1994) suggests that musical
moods are not only used to depict the atmosphere of a scene or
portray the feelings of a character, but also make viewers them-
selves experience that atmosphere and feel those feelings. Since
music can both portray and arouse emotions (Ellis & Simmons,
2005; Juslin & Va¨stfja¨ll, 2008; Schubert, 2007), underscoring not
only helps viewers attribute to a character a certain state of mind
they recognize, but what they know about character’s feelings may
also influence how they feel about the character.
This combination of a “cognitivist” recognition and “emotivist”
arousal (Kivy, 1989) suggests a way of understanding how film
music might contribute to viewers’ sense of empathy, which is
itself a composite of cognitive or intellectual empathy (the extent
to which the observer understands and takes the target person’s
perspective) and affective or emotional empathy (the extent to
which the observer feels the target emotion; Duan, 2000). Since
melodramatic underscoring, in comparison to the no-music condi-
tion, significantly increased viewers’ ability of knowing a charac-
ter’s thoughts and made the character significantly more likable, it
enabled viewers to recognize and to experience the sadness and
suffering created by the music. Since happy and sad music have
shown to be musical emotions that are most easily discernible and
contagious (Lundqvist, Carlsson, Hilmersson, & Juslin, 2009), the
recognition and induction of sadness through melodramatic music
can provide antecedents to the ability to accurately identify anoth-
er’s state of mind and the disposition to put oneself in the other’s
shoes, which contribute to intellectual and emotional empathy
respectively. Developmental studies have shown that in sixth-
graders the momentary affect of sadness about self or other fosters
pro-social behavior (Barnett, Howard, Melton, & Dino, 1982).
Furthermore, among unpleasant emotions observed in a target
person, sadness is the most likely to elicit a vicarious emotional
response from the observer than more unpleasant emotions (Duan,
2000). Therefore it is not surprising that thriller music, relative to
both melodrama music and the no-music conditions, significantly
decreased character likability. This suggests that the sense of
danger and uncertainty created by thriller music made it less
desirable for viewers to put themselves into a character’s shoes to
feel what the character is feeling. However, thriller music signif-
icantly decreased viewers’ sense of knowing the character’s
thoughts only relative to melodrama but not to the no-music
condition. This suggests that the sense of uncertainty projected by
thriller music did not provide information sufficient to disambig-
uate the neutral or ambiguous expression of the character, or
created a similar sense of ambiguity.
Viewers’ confidence levels and likability ratings in response to
clips scored with thriller or melodrama music do not map consis-
tently on the reports of recalled emotions in recall responses. On
one hand, clips scored with thriller music significantly increased
mentions of anger and suppressed mentions of sadness relative to
the melodrama and no-music conditions. On the other hand, recall
narratives of clips scored with melodrama music significantly
increased mentions of love and suppressed mentions of fear rela-
tive to the thriller music condition but not the no-music condition.
Thus the frequency of emotions recalled from clips with thriller
music was in agreement with the general musical schema of
suspense and impending danger. Yet while attributions of anger
explain why viewers found the characters in these clips less
likable, the frequency of love (together with the suppression of
fear) recalled from clips with melodrama music was directly in
accord with the likability ratings.
Our study of the influence of film music on the viewer-character
relationship is a first step in understanding the effect of aesthetic
practices in the cinema from the perspective of social psychology.
We demonstrated that musical schemas used in underscoring mod-
ulate viewers’ theory of mind and emotional contagion in response
to screen characters, thus providing antecedents for empathic ac-
curacy and empathic concern. However, since empathy is a com-
posite process in which cognitive appraisal regulates affective
attachment, further studies should explore to what extent the
recognition of musically represented emotions and the experience
of these emotions are involved in this regulation. Since music has
long been recognized as a powerful means of manipulating social
behavior through mass media (Brown & Volgsten, 2006), it will be
important to find out whether film music’s influence on modulat-
ing “bottom-up” emotional contagion and empathic concern comes
at the expense of diminishing the “top-down” cognitive control
that is equally important for successful emphatic behavior (Decety
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(Appendix follows)
Stimuli Information
(Timings Mark Beginning of Excerpt Used for Shot or Musical
(1) Film: 2046 (Wong Kar Wai, Taiwan, 2004) (52:48) Melo-
drama Music: Elmer Bernstein, Far From Heaven, “More
Pain” (0:00) Thriller Music: Jerry Goldsmith, Total Recall,
“Where am I” (2:50)
(2) Film: 2046 (Wong Kar Wai, Taiwan, 2004) (1:32:44)
Melodrama Music: Elmer Bernstein, Far From Heaven,
“Magda” (0:00) Thriller Music: Jerry Goldsmith, Total Re-
call, “The Mutant” (1:09)
(3) Film: Cinema Paradiso (Guiseppe Tornatore, Italy, 1988,
New Version) (2:14:01) Melodrama Music: James Horner,
All the King’s Men, “Anne’s Memories” (0:33) Thriller Mu-
sic: James Horner, All the King’s Men, “Conjuring the Hick
Vote” (2:39)
(4) Film: Facing Windows (Ferzan Ozpetek, Italy, 2003)
(18:40) Melodrama Music: John Williams, Angela’s Ashes,
“My Mother Begging” (0:00) Thriller Music: Jerry Gold-
smith, Medicine Man, “Without a Net” (0:10)
(5) Film: Facing Windows (Ferzan Ozpetek, Italy, 2003)
(1:39:24) Melodrama Music: Elmer Bernstein, Far From
Heaven, “Stones” (0:00) Thriller Music: Jerry Goldsmith,
Medicine Man, “Mocara” (0:00)
(6) Film: Leave Her to Heaven (John M. Stahl, United States,
1945) (1:17:19) Melodrama Music: Bernard Hermann, Gar-
den of Evil “Night” (0:00) Thriller Music: Bernard Hermann,
The Day the Earth Stood Still, “Terror” (0:00)
(7) Film: Vertical Ray of the Sun (Anh Hung Tran, France,
2000) (1:09:20) Melodrama Music: Jerry Goldsmith, The
Omen, “A sad message” (0:00) Thriller Music: Jerry Gold-
smith, The Omen, “Variable Moods” (1:00)
(8) Film: Vertical Ray of the Sun (Anh Hung Tran, France,
2000) (1:39:07) Melodrama Music: Jerry Goldsmith, The
Omen, “A sad message” (0:20) Thriller Music: Jerry Gold-
smith, The 13th Warrior, “The Cave of Death” (1:19)
(9) Film: Vertical Ray of the Sun (Anh Hung Tran, France,
2000) (1:31:30) Melodrama Music: Bernard Hermann, The
Magnificent Ambersons, “Second Letter Scene, Romanza”
(0:00) Thriller Music: Jerry Goldsmith, Medicine Man,
“Without a Net” (0:52)
(10) Film: 71 Fragments (Michael Haneke, Austria, 1994)
(17:03) Melodrama Music: Elmer Bernstein, Far From
Heaven, “Remembrance” (0:19) Thriller Music: Jerry Gold-
smith, The Omen, “Crescendo Dissonant Single Climax 666”
(11) Film: A nos Amours (Maurice Pialat, France, 1983)
(44:33) Melodrama Music: Jerry Goldsmith, Love Field,
“Pretending” (0:00) Thriller Music: Jerry Goldsmith, Total
Recall, “The Johnny Cab” (1:34)
(12) Film: Dolls (Takeshi Kitano, Japan, 2002) (17:39) Melo-
drama Music: Elmer Bernstein, Far From Heaven, “Crying”
(0:22) Thriller Music: Jerry Goldsmith, Along Came a Spider,
“A Cop Killer” (0:00)
(13) Film: Dolls (Takeshi Kitano, Japan, 2002) (54:11) Melo-
drama Music: Elmer Bernstein, Far From Heaven, “Crying”
(0:00) Thriller Music: Jerry Goldsmith, The 13th Warrior,
“The Cave of Death” (2:14)
(14) Film: House of Sand (Andrucha Waddington, Brazil, 2005)
(1:42:01) Melodrama Music: Elmer Bernstein, Far From
Heaven, “Transition” (0:00) Thriller Music: Shirley Walker,
Memoirs of an Invisible Man, “Fear Creeps In” (0:00)
(15) Film: Mirror (Andrei Tarkovsky, Soviet Union, 1975)
(11:11) Melodrama Music: Elmer Bernstein, Da, “Goodbyes”
(0:00) Thriller Music: Elmer Bernstein, My Left Foot, “Strug-
gle and Frustration” (2:12)
(16) Film: Romance (Catherine Breillat, France, 1999) (1:04:
44) Melodrama Music: Jerry Goldsmith, Love Field, “Pre-
tending” (0:50) Thriller Music: Jerry Goldsmith, Love Field,
“Roadside Incident” (1:20)
(17) Film: Sweetie (Jane Campion, Australia, 1989) (1:58)
Melodrama Music: Elmer Bernstein, Far From Heaven,
“Walk Away” (0:00) Thriller Music: Jerry Goldsmith, Along
Came a Spider, “Not My Partner” (0:10)
(18) Film: Genesis (Cheick Oumar Sissoko, France, 1999)
(1:37:33) Melodrama Music: John Williams, Memoirs of a
Geisha, “Chiyo’s Prayer” (0:31) Thriller Music: Jerry Gold-
smith, Total Recall, “Without Air” (0:28)
(19) Film: Tickets (Abbas Kiarostami et al., Italy, 2005) (8:46
and 19:02)) Melodrama Music: Anne Dudley, Blackbook,
“Rachel’s Theme” (0:00) Thriller Music: Jerry Goldsmith,
Hollow Man, “False Image” (1:04)
(Appendix continues)
(20) Film: Tickets (Abbas Kiarostami et al., Italy, 2005)
(41:30 and 35:29) Melodrama Music: John Williams, Step-
mom, “Isabel’s Picture Gallery” (1:02) Thriller Music: Jerry
Goldsmith, Hollow Man, “Broken Window” (0:21)
(21) Film: All or Nothing (Mike Leigh, United Kingdom,
2002) (5:32) Melodrama Music: John Williams, Stepmom,
“Isabel’s Picture Gallery” (1:37) Thriller Music: Jerry Gold-
smith, Hollow Man, “Broken Window” (1:12)
(22) Film: Best of Youth (Marco Tullio Giordana, Italy, 2003)
(1:06:56) Melodrama Music: John Williams, Munich, “Dis-
covering Hans” (0:10) Thriller Music: John Williams, Mu-
nich, “Letter Bombs” (1:27)
(23) Film: Best of Youth (Marco Tullio Giordana, Italy, 2003)
(57:07) Melodrama Music: John Williams, Munich, “Avner
and Daphna” (0:00) Thriller Music: John Williams, Munich,
“Hiding the Family” (0:00)
(24) Film: Rosenstrasse (Margarethe von Trotta, Germany,
2003) (7:19) Melodrama Music: John Williams, Angela’s
Ashes, “I Think of Theresa” (0:00) Thriller Music: Jerry
Goldsmith, The Omen, “I Was There” (0:20)
(25) Film: Saraband (Ingmar Bergman, Sweden, 2003) (23:
25) Melodrama Music: Bernard Hermann, The Magnificent
Ambersons, “Second Nocturne” (0:00) Thriller Music: John
Williams, Memoirs of a Geisha, “The Fire Scene” (0:00)
(26) Film: Lila Says (Ziad Doueiri, France, 2005) (37:49)
Melodrama Music: John Williams, Angela’s Ashes, “My
Mother Begging” (2:58) Thriller Music: Jerry Goldsmith,
Along Came a Spider, “A Cop Killer” (0:00)
(27) Film: The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach, United
States, 2005) (1:15:24) Melodrama Music: Jerry Goldsmith,
Studs Lonigan, “Destitute Man” (1:22) Thriller Music: Jerry
Goldsmith, Total Recall, “Swallow it” (0:00)
(28) Film: Brief Encounter (David Lean, United Kingdom,
1945) (14:44) Melodrama Music: Bernard Hermann, Anna
and the King, “Sorrow” (0:00) Thriller Music: Bernard Her-
mann, Garden of Evil, “Mission” (0:00)
Received July 23, 2009
Revision received July 26, 2010
Accepted July 29, 2010
... I will not belabor the point that music, whether vocal or instrumental, can contribute to immersion and identification by clarifying a character's inner, mental state (M. Smith 1995: 151-2;Hoeckner et al. 2011) and by enhancing our emotional reactions to a narrative (Meineck 2018: 154-79;Brown, Howe, and Belyk 2020). I merely note that those who study the musical elements of oral epic highlight those elements' emotional impact. ...
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... There is unattachable relationship between the songs and the artists of the movies. In this regard, Hoeckner and Decety (2011) in one of their research projects about relationship between music and characters write that "film music can influence character geniality and the certainty of knowing the character's thoughts, which are antecedents of empathetic concern and emphatic accuracy. Thus, film music may be regarded as modulating antecedents of empathic concern and empathic accuracy" (p. ...
The issue of the exploitation of female characters by male ones is a popular subject of filmy contents in different movies.In this regard, the paper examines the film Chapali Height in terms of how an innocent girl is sexually reified by two playboys and how she avenges after realizing the treachery. Bini, a young girl, spiritually and physically loves a boy named Amir and elopes with him, leaving her family behind, but Amir abandons her after sucking the sap of her romantic youth. After that, another mischievous boy, Raj creates a drama of love and exploits her sexually. However, the boys, who are the best friend from the past, already have consensus to romance on her body. The internalization of physical exploitation on her body crosses the limit of her aggression which leads the catastrophic end in the movie. In the study, the entire movie is selected as the text for general discussion where the data will be primarily taken from the erotic snapshots of the movie and the persuading dialogues there. Objectification theory of Fredrickson and Roberts (1997) in relation to body politics is taken as the theoretical base. Besides, this study espouses a qualitative descriptive approach to dig out commodification on woman’s body by man. The finding of this study shows that the extreme physical exploitation to the female ultimately leads the disastrous result. At the end, the commodified woman kills the men by burying them into the ditch.
... Second, concentrating on screenplays, and therefore protagonists' speech, masks movie soundtracks and staging, which also contribute to viewers' reactions and engagement (Hoeckner et al., 2011;Tan, 2018;Steffens, 2020). ...
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... There is unattachable relationship between the songs and the artists of the movies. In this regard, Hoeckner and Decety (2011) in one of their research projects about relationship between music and characters write that "film music can influence character geniality and the certainty of knowing the character's thoughts, which are antecedents of empathetic concern and emphatic accuracy. Thus, film music may be regarded as modulating antecedents of empathic concern and empathic accuracy" (p. ...
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The study focuses on Bohemian Rhapsody (2018, directed by Bryan Singer, later Dexter Fletcher), the biographical drama that reflects on the extraordinary lives and career patterns of the four members of the rock band Queen, predominantly the band’s frontman, Freddie Mercury. Given the fact that this feature film has changed the way we perceive the economic potential of biopics entirely, we offer an overview of some of the reasons why it was so successful in terms of the globalised film industry. The main objective of the study is to outline the biographical drama’s synergistic tendency in relation to the movie industry and the music business. Acknowledging Bohemian Rhapsody’s unprecedented global success, we work with the assumption that certain biographical dramas can, in fact, become globally popular, partly thanks to the fact that they utilise music as a nostalgia-driven narrative tool making portrayals of musicians deeper and more complex. The assumption is addressed via a theoretical reflection on the given topic and through a qualitative content analysis of the biographical drama Bohemian Rhapsody.
The neuroscientific examination of music processing in audiovisual contexts offers a valuable framework to assess how auditory information influences the emotional processing of visual information. Using fMRI during naturalistic film viewing, we investigated the neural mechanisms underlying music’s effect on valence inferences during mental state attribution. Participants (n=38) watched a short-film accompanied by systemically controlled music, varying in tonal consonance/dissonance level. Increasing levels of dissonance induced more negatively-valenced inferences. Whole-brain analysis revealed significant signal changes in the primary visual cortex (V1) whilst participants watched the film with dissonant music. Psychophysiological interaction analysis (PPI) showed strong coupling between the auditory ventral stream (right middle posterior temporal gyrus; rmPTG) and V1 in response to dissonance. Effective connectivity analysis demonstrated that musical dissonance modulated visual processing via top-down feedback inputs from the rmPTG to V1. These V1 signal changes indicate the influence of high-level contextual representations associated with tonal dissonance on early visual cortices, serving to facilitate the emotional interpretation of visual information. The findings substantiate the critical role of audio-visual integration in shaping higher-order functions such as social cognition. Significance statement The present study shows that musical dissonance affects the interaction between the auditory ventral pathway and the primary visual cortex (V1), extending V1’s role beyond visual perception. These findings suggest that the auditory ventral stream plays a role in assigning meaning to non-verbal sound cues, such as dissonant music conveying negative emotions, providing an interpretative framework that serves to organize the audio-visual experience. Data sharing. All relevant data are available from the figshare database DOI: 10.6084/m9.figshare.21345240
Addressing audiences’ enthrallment with film soundtracks that complicate existing notions of cinema immersion, this article offers the original concept of phenomenological fragmentation. To do so, the article considers soundtracks as mnemonic devices and affective textual components that shape audiences’ identities. Additionally, whilst multiplex viewing theatres and technologies endeavour to disembody audio media production and shroud crowds in darkness, the article explores alternative cinematic environments that support phenomenological fragmentation. This is then applied to concert movies as a particular form of event-based experiential cinema where screenings are accompanied with an orchestra that play the soundtrack live. The article then focuses on Jurassic Park ‘Live in Concert’ as a case study of this. Thirteen concert attendees were interviewed, evidencing myriad instances of phenomenological immersion and fragmentation that are shaped by autobiographical histories with the film and the novel exhibition context. Resultantly, the research provides the much-needed empirical audience data to film music studies and expands the study of experiential cinema.
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Since the beginning of human civilization, music has been used as a device to control social behavior, where it has operated as much to promote solidarity within groups as hostility between competing groups. Music is an emotive manipulator that influences attitude, motivation and behavior at many levels and in many contexts. This volume is the first to address the social ramifications of music's behaviorally manipulative effects, its morally questionable uses and control mechanisms, and its economic and artistic regulation through commercialization, thus highlighting not only music's diverse uses at the social level but also the ever-fragile relationship between aesthetics and morality.
We investigated the effects of musical soundtracks on attitudes to figures in a short animated film. In a preliminary study and in the main experiment, subjects saw the film accompanied by one of two soundtracks or with no soundtrack, or they heard one of the two soundtracks alone. In the main experiment, Semantic Differential judgments on Activity and Potency dimensions, obtained for the music, predicted effects of the soundtracks on corresponding ratings of the film as compared to ratings in a no soundtrack condition. As well, ratings on the Activity dimension of the film characters themselves were altered by the soundtracks. It is hypothesized that congruent auditory and visual structure directs the encoding of particular visual features of the film. In addition, associations generated by the music provide a context for the interpretation of the action in the film. As a result, stimulus features and concepts that are initially encoded as disjunctive conjoin in perception and memory.
Current investigators of words, sentences, and other language materials almost never provide statistical evidence that their findings generalize beyond the specific sample of language materials they have chosen. Nevertheless, these same investigators do not hesitate to conclude that their findings are true for language in general. In so doing, it is argued, they are committing the language-as-fixed-effect fallacy, which can lead to serious error. The problem is illustrated for one well-known series of studies in semantic memory. With the appropriate statistics these studies are shown to provide no reliable evidence for most of the main conclusions drawn from them. A review of other experiments in semantic memory shows that many of them are likewise suspect. It is demonstrated how this fallacy can be avoided by doing the right statistics, selecting the appropriate design, and sampling by systematic procedures, or, alternatively, by proceeding according to the so-called method of single cases.
This research investigated the influence of the mood of two examples of instrumental rock music (ominous and happy) on audience evaluation of two video elements that differed in positive/negative valence and dominance (a positive, dominant character and a negative, secondary world) within a single video. Two broad questions were addressed: Does music mood affect evaluation of the elements according to semantic congruence, and how does music mood impact the relationship between evaluation of individual film elements and the overall evaluation of a film as a whole. In an experiment, 106 undergraduates were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: a video with happy rock music, the same video with ominous rock music, or the video with no music. Results showed that happy music increased positive evaluation of the world (negative, secondary element) and strengthened its correlation with overall video evaluation to a level equivalent to that attributed to the main character (positive, dominant element). It also showed that the presence of music strengthened the correlation between the positive and negative elements, suggesting that music systematically influenced both elements in a music-congruent direction to a limited extent. These results are discussed in terms of the Congruence-Associationist Model (CAM) (Cohen, 2001), cognitive schemas (Boltz, 2004), evaluative ambiguity, and cognitive effort.