The “Fear Frequency”

In motion pictures, enhancing emotion through sound is a tried and tested, well-researched process. Minor chords for sad moments, quick stabs of strings or brass for exciting parts, uplifting melodies for the resolved problems, and the rising fifth for, well, pretty much everything, right John Williams?

But creating emotion from nothing, in particular making the viewer feel an emotion before anything happens on screen is a much more interesting challenge.

Vic Tandy, an engineer and lecturer at Coventry University, discovered feeling of unease, dizziness, nausea and depression at his laboratory (where he made medical equipment) in the 1980s. His research, published in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research in 1998 entitled “The Ghost in the Machine” explained that standing waves of 18-19Hz, which is below the human hearing range (20Hz-20KHz), were present in his laboratory and many other “haunted” buildings around the country.

In Dave Trumbore’s 2016 article “Spooky Science: The Ghost Frequency”, he writes that 19Hz sounds can resonate with the human eyeball and cause things in the peripheral vision appear larger and scarier than they actually are.

This information will come in handy for horror movies and video games. Imagine playing Dead Space with this effect in the background!

If you have the set up for low frequency and sub bass, try giving it a listen (free on Youtube)
18.98Hz “Ghost Frequency”

Tandy, V. and Lawrence, T.R., 1998. The ghost in the machine. JOURNAL-SOCIETY FOR PSYCHICAL RESEARCH62, pp.360-364.
Trumbore, D, 2016. “Spooky Science: The Ghost Frequency”

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