sound and fear

Scientific American ran a story about a month ago regarding the brains reaction to “scary music” when paired with visuals and then without visuals. They looked the way music is used to heighten fear in movies and how the brain reacted when watching the scene, and when closing your eyes during the scene. The result was that those who closed their eyes had greater reactions in the emotional centers of their brains than those who didn’t. It was scarier not to see it.

Chalk one up for the imagination.

This was interesting to me with regards to listening habits of dark ambient and experimental music. I’ve always gotten so much more from a release when I dim the lights and just absorb it. It’s a canvas for the imagination. It’s something, probably the primary thing, I always hoped to achieve with Gruntsplatter and some of my other projects. It’s why I rarely use vocals or samples. I didn’t want anything that made the music too concrete.

Everything I have done has a theme or implied story behind it, but I hope that by leaving it abstract the listener has been able to fill in the blanks with their own ideas of what was going on. I’ve gotten some nice emails over the years that have related some of those visions, or from people who have used Gruntsplatter to augment their create processes while painting or writing. It’s about the best compliment I can think of.

I wonder with the way that ingesting music has evolved just how many of the secret stories hidden in atmospheric music will go untapped. Will people continue to turn out the lights and listen attentively or will it all just blend into the background din of life. Even I don’t do it as often as I used to.

Science has now documented the emotional charge the pure sounds can evoke without the distraction of other outside stimulus. Make a point to experience that with some of your favorite dark releases.

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