In the year 2000 Philip Tagg at the University of Liverpool devised a study to assess people's reactions to the changing of background music in a short piece of footage The footage used was the original opening title to the television soap Emmerdale Farm Hatch 1972 The opening comprises of a solitary pan shot from a helicopter overlooking multiple disproportionate green fields bordered with stonewalls The shot continues to pan over a small cluster of grey stoned houses and a churchyard skirted with large trees covered in green leaves From just off in the distance you can see a small car driving towards the houses it passes the village green as the footage does its first edit in the 30 second opening and points towards one of the stoned farmhouses and farmyards The music that plays with the footage is the original Emmerdale Farm theme from 1972 written by Tony Hatch Tagg describes the music as belonging to the same basic European tradition of pastoral music as do Dawn from Grieg's Peer Gynt The piece has a 6 8 time signature and is placed at a slow rate dottedcrochet 72 It s legato e cantabile oboe melody moves in quavers and stay within the span of an octave with the exception of short suspensions which are immediately resolved This is also accompanied by arpeggios played in the style of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata on the piano
The piano part uses a circle of fifths progression which is filled out with a full string orchestra playing held chords When the group of participants in the experiment were asked to write the most likely scenarios the music nearly every one of them gave one of the following associations countryside British melancholy romantic nostalgia The experiment was then redone using a completely contrasting piece of music but played over the same footage used in the first experiment This music consisted of a ten second phrase repeated 3 times Violins hold a quiet high dissonance which is then punctuated by low brass stabs that play chromatically and with irregular note values in a non consistent meter High dissonances have been used numerous amounts to create the effect of severe mental tension The examples given by Tagg of this are In Cold Blood Jones 1968 Eyes Cold from Fear Morricone 1971 and Love is the Devil Sakomoto 1998 There is a similar chromatic bass line used to create an atmosphere of physical violence The track that was used in contrast to the original Emmerdale score was Trevor Duncan s Transcenics 2 This piece has been described by its own producers as ominous and agitated and is the type of piece that is perfect for creating a tension build After observing both versions of film the participants expressed a blend of recognition and bewildered embarrassment The two scores created two completely different stories
The first pastoral idyll draws attention to the large green hills and valleys covered in pretty trees and stone This image is a calming source of relaxation for most due to its vast green landscapes and quiet natural surroundings The participants seemed to also take the lack of humans on the screen as a good thing too describing it as a positive sign of rest and recreation far from the madding crowd and that the car also seemed to be as relaxed as it could be The second experiment had a vastly different reaction the absence of people turned from relaxing and calming to threatening and uncomfortable Most participants seemed to take it as a sign of spreading disease Another comment given was perhaps a plague has struck or maybe there's been radioactive fallout or an invasion by aliens The lone car that looked so innocent in the first version now seemed more intimidating One participant gave an example of who could have been in the car as Jack Nicholoson driving down the valley with a smirk on his face concealing a stack of bodies Others explained how the farmhouse looked nice before but now it looked grim and even the colours seemed to have gotten darker whilst accompanied with the horror music Most people in different cultures are able to interpret the sounds they hear whilst accompanying moving images the participants could see the difference of narrative based solely on the music for both versions of the sequences
The realisation that we seem to share these values and interpretations of cultural phenomena is usually something that would help to reinforce a sense of community and provide a sort of cultural security due to feeling like you belong to a defining population sharing values and meanings in comparison to another culture's set of these However as Tagg spent time observing the reactions of different groups who participated in the activity he discovered that people finding out they shared similar musical abilities was both embarrassing and a relief Tagg believed that a possible reason for the experienced embarrassment could have been related to the fact in our culture here in Britain most people s understanding and knowledge in comprehending different messages from different sorts of music is not the same as the knowledge needed to understand why such musical communication works People understand what it is they are supposed to feel or how to react but don t understand why that is how they are supposed to react therefore it invokes embarrassment due to our tradition of knowledge differentiating completely between understanding mechanisms and responding emotionally The two types of understanding belong to different institutions of learning Music as knowledge knowledge in music mostly taught in specialist music courses and Metamusical knowledge knowledge about music taught within social sciences literature and media studies This notional and institutional division of musical competences lies at the heart of problems relating to musical manipulation Tagg 2000
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