Why is Scary Music Frightening?


Remember a few months ago someone did a study of music and what types of songs can make you cry?

Adelle’s Rolling In The Deep had all the components that make you cry.

Now comes a study on what makes music scary!

Think of the JAWS theme from 1975.

A new study has found a connection between horror movie music and the screeches of young frightened animals makes it scary!

Researchers believe there are biologically-ingrained reasons why sudden, dissonant sounds and minor chords make us apprehensive.

It’s those irregular minor chords trigger the same instinctual response a mama marmot feels when her babies are threatened.

Let is analyze this. The Jaws theme creates a sinister feeling of suspense with its chilling, crescendoing minor chords. In this original trailer for the film, the minor chords start slicing in at 0:33, then are followed by the big bad chord you hear as the innocent swimmer gets yanked under at 0:35, and the high-pitched chaotic sound of the lifeguard’s whistle.

It’s a textbook example of the kind of dissonant noise researchers examined in this study. The original trailer uses the same technique of sudden, jerky chords when the children get attacked at the beach and when the sailors battle the shark from the boat.

When you hear a horror movie soundtrack–or, say, the sinister music used in a negative political campaign ad—know that it’s playing on your deepest biologically-engrained emotions. You might feel like you’re the mama marmot and those children getting attacked on the beach are your own babies!