New research out of UC Berkeley reveals some interesting tidbits about how the human brain reacts to music.
According to a study headed by scientist Stephen Palmer, we are hardwired to associate anything from Mozart to Mumford & Sons with a particular hue from the color spectrum. Whether it's a classical composition or an indie pop ballad, we automatically make music-color connections based on how the various melodies make us feel.
Not surprised by the findings? The study -- which prompted 100 participants from the U.S. and Mexico to match classical songs with a list of 37 colors -- goes on to state that subjects tended to link the same classical compositions with the same colors regardless of their native country, insinuating that humans might share a "common emotional palette" that can cross cultural barriers. Examples of popular music-color matchings were Mozart’s Flute Concerto No. 1 in G major with bright yellow and orange and his (less cheery) Requiem in D Minor with dark, bluish gray.
There are many, many variables that could account for the color-music connections (check out the full study for details), but we're excited to see scientists delving into the synesthesia pursuits of artists like Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee. Let us know which tunes make you see the rainbow in the comments.
The Fifth Element
This 1997 sci-fi favorite has one of the greatest opera/classical music moments on screen of all time. In the associated clip, the alien diva Plavalaguna (voiced by the Albanian soprano Inva Mula and played in the film by French actress Mainwenn Le Besco) sings an aria from the <a href="http://www.metoperafamily.org/metopera/history/stories/synopsis.aspx?id=55" target="_hplink">opera "Lucia di Lammermoor."</a> It's a beautiful scene and the alien diva's strange but striking appearance heightens the opera even more.
In what is arguably one of the greatest war films of all time, Wagner's "The Ride of the Valkyries" plays as the squadron of attack helicopters (projecting "Ride of Valkyries" from their speakers) begin their assault on a Vietnamese village. "Apocalypse Now" isn't the only film to use the epic opera. In D.W. Giffith's controversial 1915 film, "<a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0004972/" target="_hplink">The Birth of a Nation</a>," the opera is used during a climactic scene in the third act.
"Black Swan" is fairly obvious because of its parallel to the opera and ballet, "Swan Lake." In the clip provided, Portman dances to Tchaikovsky's well-known "Swan Lake" as she begins to transform into the black swan.
Silence Of The Lambs
In this terrifying clip, J.S. Bach's "Goldberg Variations" plays as Hannibal Lector (Anthony Hopkins) breaks out of his jail cell. The music provides the perfect juxtaposition between the horrific and gruesome actions taking place on the screen and the antiquated and calming harpsichord score. Wonder if Bach would have approved of that one.
2001: A Space Odyssey
This epic and tremendously famous opening uses Richard Strauss' "Also Sprach Zarathustra," a tone poem that was inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche's "Thus Spoke Zarathustra."
This clip features the first movement (allegro moderato in B minor) of the Symphony No. 8 "Unfinished" by <a href="http://www.classicalarchives.com/composer/3308.html" target="_hplink">Franz Schubert</a>. The piece was started in 1822 but was never completed.
28 Days Later
Although we couldn't find a clip from Danny Boyle's zombie apocalypse film, the song is "Ave Maria" performed by Dame Janet Baker and Philip Ledger. The piece consists of a melody by the French composer Charles Gounod which is superimposed over Bach's "Prelude No. 1 in C major, BWV 846 from Book I of The Well-Tempered Clavier."
The King's Speech
The clip features Beethoven's "Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op.92" composed in 1811 (the seventh of Beethoven's nine symphonies). In this scene, King George VI, played by Colin Firth, prepares for his first wartime speech.
OK, while not exactly a blockbuster, we couldn't resist including Lars von Trier's 2009 psychological horror film. "Antichrist" opens with verses from Handel's aria, "Lascia ch'io piangia," which translates to "Leave me to cry." If you've seen the film, you'll understand why it's a fitting choice, and if you haven't, take our word for it. Von Trier also features classical music prominently in his latest film, "Melancholia," this time with an assist from <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKlKbrxMcE0" target="_hplink">Wagner's "ring" cycle operas</a>. <b>Warning: video contains explicit scenes.</b>
The famous Nightcrawler White House scene that opens "X-Men 2" is also epically set to Mozart's requiem, "Die Irae." We weren't able to find any clips from the film that <i>weren't</i> unfortunately sped up like this one is, but you can check out the song in full in the playlist below.