There is more to the scream than at first meets the ear. More than a mere high pitched vocalization. Shrieks of pleasure / ecstasy. Howls of grief. Exhalations of stress or anguish or fear. Or even the confused fandom mixture of excitement, adulation and lust.
Everyone knows the facial features of Munch’s famous Scream and Francis Bacon’s Popes, the filmic wide mouthed cries of Psycho‘s Marion and the Battleship Potemkin‘s Odessa Steps nurse. But is the face without the high octave phonation still technically a scream? For instance the wake from a nightmare ‘silent scream’ of terror.
Most cinematic screams leave much to be desired in terms of being convincing, which is presumably why much of Hollywood has used but a single example since the 1950s? Indeed this search for the perfect scream forms a crucial part of Brian De Palma’s 1981 thriller Blow Out [one of Travolta’s best films IMHO]. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a ‘scientific’ formula for such a scream based on duration, pitch, loudness etc but the thing that gives away most screams as being ‘put on’, is the eyes. At least in terms of the terror scream it is very hard to fake genuine fear.
Apparently there is a custom at many U.S. universities just before the beginning of final exams [at the start of ‘dead week’ – a week of silent study] whence students fling open their windows at midnight and en masse holler into the night in a kind of primal therapy workout.
But remember “In space no one can hear you scream”.