Sonification of Emotion I: Film Music
McPherson, Gary E.
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This paper discusses the uses of sound to provide information about emotion. The review of the literature suggests that music is able to communicate and express a wide variety of emotions. The novel aspect of the present study is a reconceptualisation of this literature by considering music as having the capacity to sonify emotions. A study was conducted in which excerpts of non-vocal film music were selected to sonify six putative emotions. Participants were then invited to identify which emotions each excerpt sonified. The results demonstrate a good specificity of emotion sonification, with errors attributable to selection of emotions close in meaning to the target (excited confused with happy, but not with sad, for example). While ‘sonification’ of emotions has been applied in opera and film for some time, the present study allows a new way of conceptualizing the ability of sound to communicate affect through music. Philosophical and psychological implications are considered.