Unraveling the Sound of Horror
Wired reported on a new study about animal vocalizations and movie scores co-authored by Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Chair & IoES Professor Dan Blumstein.
Without even knowing it, movie soundtrack makers appear to mimic the sounds of animals in distress.
Biologists analyzed sound patterns in movies of war, horror, action and old-fashioned drama in a study to be published in Biology Letters. They compared the noises to what animal-communication researchers know as “nonlinear vocalizations.”
That technical term spans what bioacousticians describe in terms of “noise and deterministic chaos, sidebands and subharmonics, and abrupt amplitude and frequency transitions,” and most anyone else refers to as screeches of alarm. (In particular, lovers of “Meerkat Manor” and bioacousticians alike appreciate those animals’ unique calls.)
The harshness and unpredictability of these sounds is thought to be a vocal adaptation fine-tuned for quickly capturing a listener’s attention. And if that’s true, then “we might expect them to be also used by film-score composers and audio engineers to manipulate the emotions of those watching a film,” hypothesized University of California, Los Angeles biologist Daniel Blumstein and his Biology Letters co-authors.
To read the full article in Wired by Brandon Keim click here.
Published: Tuesday, November 16, 2010