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Film Music / Study 15

Does film music have to be less complex than art music?

Because the purpose of music in films is to evoke specific emotional responses and the music is not intended to be heard, analyzed, and enjoyed on its own, as concert music is, does it have to be simpler? Can trained musicians hear the difference between film music and other kinds of music?

What are the characteristics of art music that are often adopted into films (such as Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata)? Does the relationship between complexity of music and liking (the inverse U-relationship described originally by Berlyne, in Smets, 1973) still apply to film scores?

Researchers may begin to approach these questions by conducting laboratory studies. They could have subjects listen to different music clips (some originally composed for film and some composed for the concert hall) and rate the amount of imagery evoked by each of the pieces (they are blind to the nature of each piece). Perhaps film music is more easily evocative in the pictorial sphere.

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