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Terrifying film music mimics alarming acoustic feature of human screams


Trevor, Caitlyn; Arnal, Luc H; Frühholz, Sascha (2020). Terrifying film music mimics alarming acoustic feature of human screams. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 147(6):EL540-EL545.

Abstract

One way music is thought to convey emotion is by mimicking acoustic features of affective human vocalizations [Juslin and Laukka (2003). Psychol. Bull. 129(5), 770-814]. Regarding fear, it has been informally noted that music for scary scenes in films frequently exhibits a "scream-like" character. Here, this proposition is formally tested. This paper reports acoustic analyses for four categories of audio stimuli: screams, non-screaming vocalizations, scream-like music, and non-scream-like music. Valence and arousal ratings were also collected. Results support the hypothesis that a key feature of human screams (roughness) is imitated by scream-like music and could potentially signal danger through both music and the voice.

Abstract

One way music is thought to convey emotion is by mimicking acoustic features of affective human vocalizations [Juslin and Laukka (2003). Psychol. Bull. 129(5), 770-814]. Regarding fear, it has been informally noted that music for scary scenes in films frequently exhibits a "scream-like" character. Here, this proposition is formally tested. This paper reports acoustic analyses for four categories of audio stimuli: screams, non-screaming vocalizations, scream-like music, and non-scream-like music. Valence and arousal ratings were also collected. Results support the hypothesis that a key feature of human screams (roughness) is imitated by scream-like music and could potentially signal danger through both music and the voice.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
Physical Sciences > Acoustics and Ultrasonics
Language:English
Date:June 2020
Deposited On:10 Nov 2020 12:24
Last Modified:23 Feb 2024 02:50
Publisher:Acoustical Society of America
ISSN:0001-4966
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1121/10.0001459
PubMed ID:32611175
  • Content: Published Version