Experimenting With Sound


In an audio story, does the inclusion of orchestra film music and sound effects enhance the vividness of the images created in the participants’ imaginations?


To answer that question, I created a sound experiment and a survey to test the above research question.   One of my stories2music stories—Aurora’s Secret—has music and  sound effects, so I used that story for the test.

I had my participants to listen to three versions of the story:

  1. The version with only the narration without music or sound effects.
  2. The version with narration and music but no the sound effects.
  3. The version with narration, music and sound effects.

After listening to each version, the participants answered the survey questions.

Here is the link to the web page with the audio clips:  http://www.stories2music.com/gcmw100/gcmw100_survey.html

(You might want to do the test yourself to see how the music and sound effects affect your imagination. I think it will surprise you.)

What I Learned

Even though this was a very small statistical sample size, I learned some interesting things.

When my participants listened to the story without music or sound effects, they described the scenes very specifically on the questionnaires. It was clear that the words did generate similar images in all three participants’ imaginations.   The words did create emotions in some cases.

However, when the music was added, it changed their original imagery.  They described the same scenes differently.   The emotion was deeper; one participant nearly cried.  The music told the participants what to feel.  The music changed their initial images and perception of the story.

The sound effects also changed the original imaginative images.  One participant said the mud falling on the casket sounded heavier than she had originally imagined, and she reasoned that the rain made the dirt muddy and heavier–something she did not imagine originally.  One participant had a stronger sense that the grieving woman was actually leaving in the carriage with that sound effect.   That same participant said that he somehow missed the idea of “fierce rain” in the first version, but the sound effect of the rain brought that to his attention, so his view of the scene changed.

You can read the whole research documentation and see the presentation on my website: http://www.stories2music.com/KM/new_site/research.html

 © 2018 by Kathy Matthes. All Rights Reserved.

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