Music in Media Demo

Musical components used in diverse media content

What Does Music Do for Media?

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.

Would you expect to hear this song during this action scene?

What Musical Components can we Study?

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!

There are many musical devices used time and time again in movies. Here, undergraduate CCMI researcher Benjamin Ma explains how the tritone progression is used in film.