dr. Guglielmo Bottin, Prof. Luciano Arcuri (University of Padova, Italy - Faculty of Psychology)


This paper presents the results of an experimental research on the role of music in the appraisal of film scenes. Film and soundtracks are related to two sensory modalities, visual and auditory respectively. For this reason the relationship between film and music provides a domain for the investigation of the psychological effects of background music on evaluation and interpretation of film scenes. Previous research on music and film unveiled that two independent factors, namely pleasure and arousal, seem to lie beneath the appraisal of complex stimuli like musical tracks and film scenes. Initially, pleasure and arousal scores for a number of musical tracks and film scenes were obtained. The excerpts receiving the most consistent ratings between subjects have then been selected to create different combinations of film and music. In our experiment musical accompaniment, which could be congruent or incongruent with the scene, proved itself to have a significant effect on the semantic differential ratings of the film excerpts. The perceived congruency between film and music was related to the distance of the stimuli on the pleasure dimension. In addition, a congruent underscoring was able to bring the majority of participants to one specific interpretation of the scene. While on the contrary, when background music was in a contrasting relation with the film, participants’ preferences were more spread between alternatives.


[ 1 ] Introduction: Music and Film

1.1 Brief history of film soundtracks
1.2 Why study film music

1.3 Technology, society and music listening

1.4 Purpose and structure of the present research

[ 2 ] Psychology and Soundtracks

2.1 Psychological literature on film music
2.2 Notes from advertising and marketing research
2.3 Shaping relations with music: The associationist approach
2.4 The appropriateness of underscoring: The “fit” construct

[ 3 ] Measuring the Evaluation of Musical Stimuli

3.1 The convergent validity of the semantic differential technique.
3.2 Evidence for a bi-dimensional structure
3.3 Measuring responses: Our rating scales

[ 4 ] Appraisal of Stimuli

4.1 Preliminary appraisal of music
4.2 Collecting and editing the auditory material
4.3 Participants and experimental design
4.4 Results
4.5 Appraising film excerpts
4.6 Notes on film material
4.7 Participants and experimental design
4.8 Results

[ 5 ] Combining Film and Music

5.1 Aim of experiment
5.2 Stimuli selection
5.3 The appropriateness of film/music combinations
5.4 Participants and experimental design
5.5 Results

[ 6 ] Music and Film Perception and Interpretation

6.1 Aim of experiment
6.2 Participants and experimental design
6.3 Results
6.4 Effects of underscoring
6.5 Soundtrack and interpretation
6.6 Effects of music appropriateness

[ 7 ] Conclusions

7.1 Semantic appraisal of film and music
7.2 Contrast vs. congruency between film and underscore
7.3 Effects of underscoring on semantic appraisal of film
7.4 Effects of music on the interpretation of the film scenes
7.5 Directions for further research

[ 8 ] References


(c) 2001-2002 Guglielmo Bottin - all rights reserved