The most effective way to investigate just how vital music is to the emotions in a film is to conduct an experiment, with multiple subjects watching film clips accompanied by different music and finding out how their emotions differ. Julian F Thayer and Robert W Levenson did just this in “Effects of Music on Psychophysiological Responses to a Stressful Film” (1983). They used a film used for stressful stimulus in psychophysiological research, and made three versions of it to play to subjects: one with no music; one with a score designed to induce stress and fear, and another with
documentary-like music written to decrease listeners’ anxiety levels. They monitored the cardiovascular, electrodermal and somatic responses in the subjects whilst they watched the films, and also received a separate report of the subjects’ personal perceived stress levels.
After testing sixty subjects, they found that the music made considerable difference to the perception of the film and altered the anxiety levels of the subjects greatly. They also discovered that there wasn’t much change in the heart rate of the subjects over the three versions of the film, but the electrodermal responses varied greatly. This means that the conductivity of their skin changed depending on the film, which is an indicator of emotional response. The stress levels of the subjects rose along with the horror-like music, and lowered with the calmer documentary-like score, and the version with no music placed directly in between those two when it came to electrodermal response.
Although this experiment focused solely on the stress and anxiety factors, it is still clear proof that music can make a great deal of ...
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...d cadences against us to make us feel stress or unease.
The initial aim of this paper was to explore and investigate the ways in which music can have an impact on the emotions of film viewers, and how important it is to the film as a whole. Research into the psychological impact of music along with compositional techniques have further detailed the ways that humans react to music and how Composers manage to achieve the intended effect from listeners. Studies have also proven just how effective music can be in changing the interpretation and feel of a scene, and that is the main and most conclusive argument for music being an irreplaceable asset for portraying emotion both in film and beyond. It is a hope that through new technologies entering into the film industry, that both music and film can continue to evolve and possibly connect even further with the audience.
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