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One way music is thought to convey emotion is by mimicking acoustic features of affective human vocalizations (Juslin & Laukka, 2003). Regarding fear, it has been informally noted that music for scary scenes in films frequently exhibits a “scream-like” character. Here, this proposition is formally tested. This paper reports acoustic analyses for four categories of audio stimuli: screams, non-screaming vocalizations, scream-like music, and non-scream-like music. Valence and arousal ratings were also collected. Results support the hypothesis that a key feature of human screams (roughness) is imitated by scream-like music and could potentially signal danger through both music and the voice.
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