Music is used in media for countless reasons. Mainly, it seems to be used to indicate narrative cues and provide audiences with context about what they’re seeing on-screen. For example, an antagonist is likely to be introduced with different music than a protagonist in a movie. When musical cues clash with visual cues, expectations can be violated, which can result in humorous scenes.
Music is a rich medium to study because it contains so many different types of auditory features. We study how timbre (the tone of the music), spectrum (the frequencies present in music), rhythm, tonality (what musical notes are present), and much more all play into our media-viewing experiences. We also have stumbled upon some interesting harmonic trends that we’ve seen in film!