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Psycho and the orchestration of anxiety

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Abstract:

Since its release in 1960, Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho has entered the consciousness of our culture as have few other films. Its striking imagery, combined with its universally recognized score, has prompted a wealth of scholarly output. New understanding in the areas of emotion and cognition now affords us the opportunity to re-examine this film from a less familiar vantage point. This article places Psycho within the context of American television drama of the 1950s and explores the effect of Bernard Herrmann's music on the emotional responses of the viewer, as well as the possible consequences of this effect on the literal reading of the film.

Keywords: Herrmann; Hitchcock; Psycho; emotional signifiers; mood and cognition; television drama

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/st.3.1.53_1

Affiliations: Bournemouth University.

Publication date: July 1, 2010

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  • The Soundtrack is a multi-disciplinary journal which brings together research in the area of music and sound in relation to film and other moving image media. A complex cultural, technological, industrial and artistic phenomenon, sound-with-moving image is a rich area for analysis, investigation and speculation. We encourage writing that is accessible to audiences from a diversity of intellectual backgrounds and disciplines as well as providing a forum for practitioners. The Soundtrack's aim is to nurture this new and expanding area of academic investigation in dialogue with soundtrack producers of all kinds.
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