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Film Music / Study 16

Is it more effective to use original or known music?

Does using a marketable score detract from the film (for example, scores for movies such as Pretty Woman which include old hits such as "Pretty Woman")? Is this somehow less effective because each audience member brings his or her own past associations to the music?

For instance, if "Pretty Woman" were playing when you broke up with your lover, the song may elicit specific emotions from you regardless of the context. But, if the song is composed specifically for the film, then the music is tied to the film; individual experiences will not affect the emotions evoked by the music. Perhaps known music is more distracting even if members of the audience do not bring their own associations to it.

On the other hand, studies have shown positive correlations between familiarity and liking; perhaps the music will be liked more if it is already familiar.

These questions may be tested by exposing subjects to films that have been judged as similar in theme and genre prior to the study. Possible confounded variables abound in this study as researchers should be using unaltered scores.

Since no film (to the author's knowledge) has been made in two versions, one with a known and one with an original score, researchers may have difficulty teasing out other variables such as acting, direction, and plot. However, they may wish to show many different films in order to compare the different variables.

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