Discreet presence, or on the contrary thunderous, music is an integral part of films. It guides the viewer in his cinematographic experience, for example by highlighting certain passages. As a statement from the University of Southern California (USC) School of Engineering recalls, “ a light romance can include rich string passages and lush lyrical melodies, while a horror movie on the contrary can feature unsettling, piercing frequencies and oddly jarring notes. ” But while it seems obvious that the music accompanying a bloody murder or a passionate kiss won’t be the same, those nuances aren’t necessarily enough to ascribe a cinematic genre to specific sounds.
A group of researchers from the engineering school led by Professor Shrikanth Narayanan, looked into this question of the link between cinematographic genre and musical background, and wished to evaluate it quantitatively. To do this, they created an artificial intelligence that predicts the cinematographic genre of a film based solely on its soundtrack. Their results, published in the journal PLOS , show success for all six of the best-known genres (drama, romance, action, comedy, sci-fi and horror), especially horror movies and romances.
“With ever increasing access to films and music, it has never been so crucial to quantitatively study how this medium affects us”said Timothy Greer, a doctoral student at this school named USC Viterbi and co-author of the article. “ Understanding how music works in conjunction with other forms of media can help us design better viewing experiences and create moving, impactful art.