Here’s an excellent post at Cognitive Daily that discusses research on how music played before or after a film character is shown affects our perception of their emotion. Here’s a snippet, but the entire piece is worth reading:
Whether the music was played before or after the clip, at least in the case of happiness, sadness, or fear, it affected viewers’ perception of the actor’s intended emotion. The researchers were careful not to mention music at all during the presentation of the clips, asking the viewers only about the emotions intended by the character. But music clearly had a dramatic impact on the viewers’ perceptions of the scene. The scenes had been pre-screened without music by 31 viewers to verify that the emotion portrayed in the scene was neutral (two other potential scenes were eliminated during this pre-screening process as not being sufficiently neutral).
Additional analysis by the researchers suggests that the music played before the scene had a more powerful effect on perceived emotion than music played afterwards, but both clearly have an important effect.
And when you’re finished reading that, watch this:
and then this…