Tag Archives: anempathetic sound

Film Music 101: Anempathetic sound

Since yesterday I talked about empathetic sound in movies, today I thought it was only fitting to talk about the opposite: anempathetic sound.

As one might guess, anempathetic sound is when the music or sound effects in a movie stand in direct contrast to what is actually happening on the screen. For example, say you’re watching a horror movie and the upcoming victim is going about their day and say they turn on some music and a bright, chipper song is now playing (this would be diegetic music, see the first Film Music 101 post for the definition). Suddenly, the killer/monster strikes! While the victim dies a horrible, gruesome death, the happy song keeps playing on and on, indifferent to the plight of the victim.

Anempathetic sound does not have to occur solely with music however. In Hitchcock’s immortal classic Psycho, the famous shower scene takes place with the sound of running water playing continuously throughout. Even after the character is dead, the sound of water continues to play, also indifferent to the fact that a young woman was just murdered.

Never saw it coming, poor thing….

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See also:

Film Music 101: Foley

Film Music 101: Montage

Film Music 101: Compilation Score

Film Music 101: Leitmotif

Film Music 101: Orchestration and cues

Film Music 101: “Stinger” Chords

Film Music 101: Dubbing

Film Music 101: Diegetic vs. Non-Diegetic Music

Film Music 101: Underscore

Film Music 101: Sidelining

Film Music 101: “Test” Lyrics

Film Music 101: The First Film Score

Film Music 101: Borrowing

Film Music 101: Arranger