The Importance of Sound in Films: Understanding the Psychological Effects of Music

Music is a universal language and an effective form of escapism. 

Listeners experience the psychological effects of music in different ways. This popular pastime subtly impacts behavior and responses, as many people experience both mental and physical responses from music. 

These behavior effects aren’t limited to casual listening. They’re evident while watching films, too. Film music strategically enhances the viewing experience for people. 

Let’s go over music’s fascinating impacts on the human psyche.

The Psychological Effects of Music

The psychological effects of music differ from person to person. A heavy metal song may be a source of motivation for one person, but a source of stress for another. Regardless of the type of music, it’s guaranteed that it will affect you in some manner.

1. Stress Reduction

One of the behavioral methods to combat stress is to block out whatever is stressing you out. The simple act of putting on your headphones and listening to music helps begin the stress-reduction process.

The type of music that helps reduce stress may vary based on your music tastes. However, there is a particular type of music that is scientifically proven to release stress. Music that is around 60 beats per minute synchronizes with the brainwaves related to relaxation

2. Cognitive Performance

Playing music while performing tasks, either menial or difficult, helps improve cognition. Upbeat, non-distracting music serves as an external stimulation and encourages mobility. This subtle behavioral encouragement positively impacts you while working on a task. 

3. Memory Improvement

Alongside general cognitive performance, music also affects memory. Studying while listening to music helps listeners retain information.

The brain retains the memories and associates it with the music played during a study session. Part of the brain’s memorization process is attachment. Attaching something meaningful to a memory, such as music, helps memory development.

4. Sleep

A soothing, downbeat tune can help you fall asleep faster and more soundly. Partnering with the stress relief effects, music at around 60 beats per minute is calming and relaxing. The relaxing effects help listeners ease their way into a peaceful sleep.

5. Personal Well-being

Music doesn’t just impact mental health; it also affects physical health. Music helps lower blood pressure by improving the efficiency of hypertension treatment. When combined, music therapy and physical medical treatment work harmoniously together to help patients with health issues. 

The Negative Effects of Music

Music can positively affect well-being and mood, but it can also cause adverse effects on people. For example, music can be a huge distraction. Songs that emphasize lyrics or loud instrumentals prevent listeners from paying attention to anything but the song. 

Some songs trigger a fight-or-flight response in listeners. Songs with startling noises or sounds that resurface bad memories may invoke a bad response.

If certain songs harm your emotions, take the time to search for music that suits your standards. Music is preferential and depends on the taste of the listener.

Music can also make listeners uncomfortable on purpose. If you’re watching a film and feel uncomfortable by its music, you may be experiencing the filmmaker’s intended effect.

The Impact of Music in Films

Films famously invoke an emotional response—that’s why we seek them out. Moviegoers watching a horror film will feel a different emotional response than people viewing a romantic comedy.

But why?

Besides their emotional commitment to the story, the film’s music coaxes an emotional response out of the audience.

Here are the main music inclusions that invoke an emotional response.

1. Context

Context and tension are essential additions that help guide the audience toward a feeling. When you’re watching a drama film and the music swells, that’s a psychological hint. Depending on the tone of the music, the hint indicates something significant is about to happen in the story.

Without musical context, you’re left without foreshadowing. This eliminates tension and makes film watching less exciting.

Sometimes, context is obvious. The audience knows they should be scared when a monster is chasing a main character.

However, music amplifies the edge-of-your-seat feeling associated with the visuals. Together, music and visuals guarantee a psychological response.

2. Atmosphere

Throughout a film, you may witness several scenes with different atmospheres. A scene that’s supposed to be tense may use a strange, uncommon chord progression. Your brain immediately understands that something tense is about to happen and reacts by making you feel tense. 

Even with music, filmmakers invoke a specific atmosphere in multiple ways, such as dialogue, visual effects, and body language. However, music is the most subtle way to invoke emotion into an atmosphere.

3. Emotion

By tailoring the perfect atmosphere and creating the right context, you invoke specific emotions. Certain tones, chords, and melodies tap into your brain to help you feel a certain way. A slow, melancholy tune will immediately make you feel sad. Of course, the ultimate goal of a filmmaker is to match the tone and audience emotion. 

If you’re a filmmaker who is eager to find out more about why music is vital in movies, you’re not alone. Crafting the perfect emotional response is an essential step in a film’s storytelling process. 

Embracing the Power of Music

Knowing the psychological effects of music is important for everyone, especially filmmakers. Curating the perfect atmosphere for your audience enhances your storytelling. By implementing these tips and tricks, films have the power to invoke the right emotions without the need to tell the audience how to feel. 

Music is a powerful tool. Whether it’s used in films or used to help your well-being, it helps creates positive change. Check out our articles to find out the latest news within the film industry.


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Tariq Gardezi

Creator of Content.

Tariq Gardezi has 49 posts and counting. See all posts by Tariq Gardezi

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