Sounds Accompanying Different Film Genres

Categories: Film AnalysisResearch

In every genre of film, there are sounds that appear to give the movie life and environment. In every kind of movie, there is always a similar sound and theme goes along with what the movie is supposed to represent. Whether that movie is the dark and grittiness of the horror genre, or the light and airy sounds of the romance movies. Everything has sounds and music that is assigned to its genre. Though there may be some deviants to the formula, there seems to be a similar feeling to it all.

What will be shown today is every genre of movie, or at least the major ones, and how sounds we hear in the movies, and maybe the music that goes along, really places a real feeling on the movie as a whole.

What is sound? More important to the paper, what is sound in film? Sound refers to everything we hear in film. Whether it be words, sound effects, and music.

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Any kind of monologue or dialogue that happens with characters, that is sound that is coming out of their mouths. The gunshots you hear in your action movies, that is sound. The music that plays in the backgrounds of the scenes, that is sound. There are two categories of sound in film. They are known as Diegetic and Non-Diegetic. Diegetic sound is the sound that we see on screen that is happening in the world. So for example, a door slamming, footsteps happening on screen, a dialogue between two people, etc.

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Non-Diegetic sounds refer to all the sounds on screen that we do not see. Such as the musical score, narrator’s commentary, sound effects. One good example is the screams in the shower screen of Psycho. Sound, usually, is used to help set the mood or atmosphere. It can be altered to help create another layer of meaning to things we see on screen. One important aspect of sound in film is how music can affect the film, and what meaning it places. They can elicit an emotional response from the audience, let the audience know when something is about to take place, give clues about the film, it can be used to bring shock to the audience, foreshadow events, and more. (Inpoint) There function of sound is three fold, it is used to simulate reality, create an illusion, and set a mood. When it comes to simulating reality, the job is that by, shooting a fake scene, but adding realistic sounds, you have created a life like scene. Going back to the example earlier of a gun going off. Obviously when a gun is fired at someone in a movie, it is a fake gun. However, coupled with the sound of a real gun, and blanks, what you have done is created what seems to be reality. Making the plain old peashooter, seem like an actual weapon that just killed someone. Creating the illusion. Let us take the example of two people going into a bar. While they are sitting in the bar, there are people around talking and clinking glasses together. Whereas they may not be shown doing so on screen, the sound is still played, giving the illusion that they are still in the bar and that it is an active and live bar. Finally, creating the mood, take any scene, and replace one bit of it with a different sound and you can create a completely new mood and meaning. For example, a man who sits next to a campfire, if you hear the sound of an owl in the distance, you feel that the man is alone in the woods and nothing seems to be out of the ordinary. Let us replace the sound of the owl with that of a howl of a wolf, now you have perceived danger in the woods. Finally, if we replace that with the sounds of gunshots, now you are anxious as to what that was, who it was for, and will it come for the protagonist next.

Sound is dealt with in many different forms. One of the main ones is someone called a Foley artist. The job of the Foley artist is super important. A Foley artist usually fixes any sound that was not recorded very well in the making of the movie. In fact, with the exception of dialogue and music, most sounds you hear in Hollywood movies are Foley sounds. A man named Jack Foley created the process of fixing up the sounds. The Foley artist will sit in what is called a Foley Studio, and create sounds in each scene that it is needed.

Films have not always had sound. Before, most films were silent, and in black and white. The very first film that had sound in it ever, is credited mostly to The Jazz Singer, however, it was the first feature length film to be featured as a talkie. However, the first film to actually have any sound in it was known as Don Juan, a film short produced by Warner Brothers and Vitaphone back in 1927. Now, whereas Don Juan was the first to have sound, Thomas Edison first invented the actual device that was used to record sound in 1877. He called it the Phonograph, the idea was that it could record sound, save it, and be used to listen to that sound later. He later invented the moving picture, in the 1890s, by stringing multiple pictures together; he could create what seemed like a real life person moving on screen. He tried to find a way to combine, hoping he could achieve creating a person on screen, who could walk and talk just like a normal person. However, he struggled with synchronizing the audio just right, and there was the issue that at the time the phonograph was not very loud, so a few people, only heard any sounds it did produce. So using it to create a film for many people to see was almost impossible. However, as stated earlier, the Warner Brothers finally figured out how to combine sound and movies to create a sound film. At the time of Don Juan and The Jazz Singer, many other Hollywood companies began to blow sound films off as nothing more than just a fad at the time. They believed people were more interested in silent films than they were in sound films. Therefore, they stuck with what they knew. However, after the Jazz Singer, the popularity of sound films began to skyrocket.

As stated earlier in the paper, sound can set the mood or atmosphere for a movie. So what I want to focus on is what kind of sound you will generally hear in different genres of movies. Every kind of movie have different sounds and music that will play throughout the movie, as a way to show you what is happening, and remind you what kind of movie you are watching.

The first genre of film I want to focus on is probably the most fleshed out genre when it comes to sound. Horror movies. There are so many different levels of sounds and music used in horror movies to overall create this sense of fear and loneliness. There are two ways that sounds in movies can be scary, and it is from it being sudden, or by having a frightful tone. Not only that, but the speed of sounds we hear travels faster than what our brain depicts of images. It is assumed that in the end, sounds can be perceived to be scarier than images. “Since horror movies rely on music, movie score composers carefully consider how to use familiar sounds in unusual ways; this distortion of reality unsettles us even if what we’re hearing is, in many ways, obscured.” The way that sounds make us jump and fear for our lives and the lives of the characters on screen has been broken down to a science. The instruments used to create these sounds, and the sounds themselves, may not be unusual. However, they are changed to higher or deeper pitches in order to bring us to this instinctive sense of fear. The sounds we hear of distressed animal noises, a woman screaming, and other non-linear sounds we hear are ones that are irregular noises, with massive wavelengths, which usually gives us that instance of fear. They are like mini rushes of adrenaline in our body. Taking a normal sound and putting it into a different context can create a sense of danger. Such as in the movie Friday the 13th, there is the noise, which lets the audience know the Jason the killer is nearby, heightening the sense of danger amongst the audience members.

Updated: Feb 23, 2024
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Sounds Accompanying Different Film Genres. (2024, Feb 23). Retrieved from

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