Meanings of music in film from a cognitive perspective

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Agnieszka Cieślak


Cognitive psychology, with its focus on mind and its processes, is one of the approaches to study film music. Although music alone is said to be already meaningful, it gains and transfers specific meanings in the film context. This article aims to contribute to understanding of what film music means and how these meanings are processed in the cross-modal perception of a film. A review of the selected empirical research on film music with regard to meaning is followed by a short overview of the Annabel J. Cohen’s Congruence-Association Model (CAM) of media cognition. The model provides a framework for the experiments’ results and encourages future interdisciplinary studies in this area.


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Cieślak, A. (2019). Meanings of music in film from a cognitive perspective. Interdisciplinary Studies in Musicology, (19), 107-116.
Biogram autora

Agnieszka Cieślak, Institute of Musicology, University of Warsaw

PhD student at the Institute of Musicology at Warsaw University. Her Master’s
Thesis about music in the film The Artist was awarded the Zofia Lissa Prize in the academic year
of 2012–2013. Her interests revolve around film music, with particular emphasis on music in the
silent film era. She is preparing a dissertation about a Polish violinist and conductor Nek Mirskey
and his compilation scores for American silent movies. As a Fulbright scholar in the academic year
2016/2017, she conducted research at the University of Pittsburgh.


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