When it comes to soundtrack, as in the album fans would buy from a movie, I have been thinking of why this is so popular. It is not that it’s odd to buy a soundtrack album, I just think there’s something else behind it. In a research article by Susann Eschrich, Thomas F Münte and Eckart O Altenmüller, they investigate wether music that induce strong emotions is better remember in a long term perspective. Their findings was that music that evokes strong emotions, or positive emotion is better remembered. This made me reflect on my own memory of music, and as I look back on music from films and which ones I actually remember, it is those who are either connected to a scene that evoked strong emotions or a film that made me feel good. I also do believe that music experienced together with a visual input will leave a greater impact on you. In an article from American Science, Mark Changizi, explores the subject of how music evokes emotion and argues that music and humans, visual input containing humans, will evoke strong emotions. It’s an interesting point if you see it in the context of the first research article presented. One could then argue that music in combination with visual input containing humans would then make you remember music for years to come, the will leave some kind of mark on you. If a movie evokes strong emotions it would then make perfect sense that the soundtrack is a part of that. And explain why it would be so popular to buy a soundtrack album.
In the article by Changizi, he also discusses another research that explored the perception of emotions combined with music. The research which in done by Nidhya Logeswaran and Joydeep Bhattacharya played different clips with people either smiling, with a neutral face expression or sad face together with either sad or happy music. The research showed that the music changes the way you perceive the facial expression towards the emotion of the music. While music alone can induce different kinds of emotion, it is really interesting that the perception of people around you, or any visual input would also slightly change depending on the music. In relation to film, it is a really important aspect to be aware of. Would playing sad music in combination with sad scene then make you perceive the scene as more sad? Not always. BLALBA talks about earned rights. If the movie has done it’s job by making you feel empathetic to a character, playing sad music when they want you to feel sad for that character would work. But if they haven’t earned the rights, this would more end up as an epic fail. More than once have we watched a movie, heard sad orchestral string music play and just been like, wtf is this shit? I am not in the same state as they want me to be. It would feel forced and not believable.
When playing music that matches the feeling in the scene, sad music to sad scene, we’re talking about empathetic music which is a term derived from Michel Chion. The opposite then, would be anempathetic music. This is when music is played that does not match what we see on screen. For instance, a very famous example would be from Reservoir dogs. During a torture scene where a man gets his ear cut of the song ‘Stuck in the middle with you’, which totally clashes with what we see. This creates a disjunction between the emotional response we would have to the song, happy or feeling good, with the brutal torture scene we see on screen which makes us feel uncomfortable and horrified. The combination of these two creates a clash which makes it difficult for us to have the emotional response we expect ourself to have, it creates a misattribution. I would argue then, since this scene evokes very strong feelings for most people, this scene and piece of music would definitely be remembered. It is also very interesting to see it in the perspective of music changing the perception of the scene. If we were to follow Nidhya Logeswaran and Joydeep Bhattacharya’s research, this scene would then be interoperated as more happy since happy music is played, I would argue that this is not the case. Instead I would argue that the scene is even more disturbing and horrifying than if it would be played with “proper” music, what ever that could be. The disjunct between the happy music and the discomfort from the visual input creates a response beyond the “regular” one and deepens the emotional response we have from the scene.