Film Music in the Lab : Eye Tracking Experiments on Music's Influence on Film Semantics

Ann-Kristin Wallengren, Alexander Strukelj

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper, not in proceedingpeer-review


This paper discusses the possible advantages and disadvantages by using experimental methods in order to understand how music influences our understanding of film narratives. Can experimental and quantitative methods such as eye tracking, questionnaires, galvanic skin response, EEG (electroencephalogram) and fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging – a brain scan) give us insights into the significance of film music that we cannot really arrive at through more traditional methods? The discussion emanates from an eye tracking experiment conducted at Lund University Humanities Lab during spring 2014, which in turn is a continuation of an explorative experiment made at a workshop in 2013. The experiment uses three film clips chosen according to their different use of stylistic parameters Ronin (John Frankenheimer, 1998), Songs from the Second Floor (Roy Andersson, 2000) and Winged Migration (Jacques Perrin, 2001), and three different sound conditions of which one is musical silence. As complementary methods we use questionnaires and “traditional” film analysis in order to be able to perform methodological and theoretical controls as well as comparative discussions. In the experimental situation, mainly two methods are thus combined: the eye movement measurement, i.e. measurement of objective physical values, indicating whether and how visual attention is guided by the music, and secondly questionnaires that in a different and more in-depth way measure the subjective experience and interpretation. Are experimental methods able to provide more definitive answers to questions about how film music means and generates meaning? Can experimental methods be able to show something previously not noted?
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2014
EventMusic and the Moving Image IX, 2014 - New York University Steinhardt
Duration: 2014 May 302014 Jun 1


ConferenceMusic and the Moving Image IX, 2014

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Arts


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