Cafe Scientfique


Dr Nicola Dibben, the University of Sheffield
‘Chills, thrills and other feeling states: Understanding emotional responses to music in film soundtracks.’

For many people music elicits strong emotional experiences, and film soundtracks often exploit that potential, whether it be to heighten an effect of suspense and terror, as in the shower scene of the film Psycho, or of love and romance, as in Brief Encounter. Musicians have developed the ability to evoke emotions through a folk psychology of musical techniques, many of the clichés of which can be heard in film music. But why do these techniques work (and why do they sometimes fail?). The talk will explore the way in which affective response to music is dependent on psycho-biological mechanisms for expectation, illustrated with clips from films, and data drawn from experimental research. The talk illustrates the way in which affective experience of music is shaped both by culture and biology.
Dr Nicola Dibben is a Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Sheffield where her research and teaching focuses on the relationship between music, mind and culture.
She has over 40 publications spanning music cognition and emotion, textual analysis of popular music, gender and identity, and critical and cultural theory. She is editor of the journal Popular Music and has two books forthcoming: Björk (Equinox Press, 2009) and Music and Mind in Everyday Life (Oxford University Press).