THE PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT OF MUSIC IN FILM
Integrative thinking takes place when a number of diverse music performances are synthesized to inform a position and conclusion of the topic at hand. As noted above, the assignment also links music with other discipline of psychology (emotional responses). Consider the recognition of different perspectives, the weighing of evidence, and the examination of varied contexts and assumptions through a discussion of music elements (melody, harmony, rhythm, texture and timbre) when you develop your essay.
We’ve all been to the movies at one time or another but have you thought about how the music enhanced or detracted from your viewing pleasure? Music is often used in movies to add emotional power to a scene, or to tell you how to feel about the story or the characters or how the characters themselves feel. But can a soaring musical score outshine a performance?
For this assignment, you will need to select (2-3) films with different composers and discuss the use of music in two (2) scenes from each film. Start by describing the scene and then consider the following:
- How does music enhance the scene?
- Does the music elaborate or detract from the scene and how so?
- What was the intent of the music used for the scene?
- How does the music in the scene make you feel?
- What emotions did you feel while watching the scene?
- Were you frightened, struck by terror, or sad?
- Did your emotions change during the scene?
- Would other viewers share your reaction or react differently and why?
To start the discussion, copy and paste the following link into your browser:
The Evolution of Music in Film and its Psychological Impact on Audiences by Stuart Fischoff, Ph.D provides a good introduction to film music and list several assumptions made by people both inside and outside the film industry regarding film scores. This is followed by nineteen suggested studies regarding emotion and film scores. Throughout this paper, you will find many quotes and critical thinking questions you can use for your essay.
And if the Google “Emotion in Film Music,” or “The Psychology of Film Music,” you’ll find a wealth of information that will help you take a position on the role music plays in movies and analyze the use of music in the movie.
- It is required to use the musical elements presented in this course to discuss the most unique musical features of each scene. Please include the following:
- Did the music enhance the story that the filmmakers were trying to tell?
- How would you have used music in this movie?
- What do you think is a comparable effect of the music of one particular movie vs. another?
Other important questions to consider:
- Composer (Consider the distinctness and unique contributions of each individual composer).
- What was the composer trying to achieve?
- How does this music make you feel? How do you think others might react to it and why?
- How does music highlight or intensify the action and was it successful?
- Which elements contributed to this success or shortcoming?
- Do you agree with the composers’ choice of musical elements and instrumentation? Would you have used music differently?
- How was timbre used in creating the kind of atmosphere.
- How did the music serve to highlight the drama?
- Analyze the elements (contexts and assumptions)
- Is music used as a form of mis-direct? Knife-wielding man comes to door, Psycho music in background, door is answered and it’s his buddy. “So how do I look for the party?”
Sound is another important aspect of cinematography, which can be used to give a story a certain mood or feeling. Review some examples on YouTube such as: the theme from Jaws, Psycho, or Out of Africa and the way they are used in these films.
- How do these examples compare to earlier historical developments of programmatic music, thematic unity or thematic transformation, leitmotif, etc.
Analyze the use of sound other than music in the movie.
- Did it enhance the story that the filmmakers were trying to tell?
- What sounds, other than music, would you have used to tell the story told by your movie selections?
Sources/Documentations: Your essay must include at least 2 documented sources for each film discussed in your essay. You should also strengthen your arguments with quotes from the evidence and elaborate on each point of view. Be sure to analyze the evidence as you research it. Do you agree or disagree with the author’s position? Look for statements by the composers themselves.
- Provide a one-paragraph statement explaining why you chose the films you plan to select and a thesis statement in which you will discuss how you will identify or define the main issue. Why are you personally drawn to the music in these films? This is due (11th week; 1st day). (15 points)
- Once approved, an outline of your essay using complete sentences and a bibliography of sources is due (14th week; 1st day) during which you will make a case for several of the questions suggested above. (15 points)
- The final paper is due to be submitted in the assignment box in Blackboard by Wednesday of finals week. (70 points)
A 3-4 paged 800-1000 word-processed paper not including title page (title, your name, course number, section, and name, professor’s name, and date submitted) and works cited page. Double-space with one-inch margins using Times New Roman 12-point font. For works cited page and in-text citations use MLA format.
Your critical and integrative thinking assignment will be assessed for critical thinking as part of the university’s assessment program. Be sure to read through the critical thinking documents so you understand the assessment process. A grading rubric is also provided and it’s a good idea to review this when you begin the assignment. Everything you need can be found when you click on the critical and integrative thinking assignment button.
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