My girlfriend and I finished watching the horror film Mama the other day. Obviously, one of the key devices used to make the viewer 'scared' is via the use of sound and score to make us 'jump' in certain parts.

We've all seen it and experienced it in countless films before where a loud noise or orchestral sting accompanies a scary moment. My girlfriend asked me the question after, as to where did this use of sound/score come from? Is it just now a 'convention' that is used in horror film now, and was there a particular film that first used this to effect and has been copied since? Just why is it so successful and making us feel jumpy, and on edge? Does it just boil down to an evolutionary thing where we are programmed to react to loud/sudden noises, and why are certain instruments and frequencies more effective at making us feel this way than others?

Any thoughts would be very interesting to hear... ;)

1 Answer 1


The BBC did a cool documentary on this a while back which you can find here. They delve into questions of context, and well as cultural triggers.

Edit: This just appeared in my RSS... Specifically talking about game audio, but the science is the same.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.