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music on open sesame

Hi, I was just wondering if I could use music in an open sesame experiment, please.


  • Hi @sarahfg,

    Open Sesame allows you to play sound files. What do you have in mind exactly? Play music in the background or play music on individual trials?

    Once you've familiarized yourself a little with Open Sesame and followed some of the tutorials, have a look at the sampler object ( If you program part of the experiment using code in Python, you can also implement the sampler through code (

    Hope this helps!


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  • Hi Fabrice, Thank you for your quick response.

    We are currently a group of year-two psychology students, and open sesame is completely new to us. We are currently using RStudio for analysis. We haven't come across Python yet.

    We have to do an experiment with two groups, one within-subjects and the other between-subjects. While the participants are reading words (later to be a memory task), we would like to play either dramatic/intense music for one group and calm/soothing music for the other.

    Do you think this is possible?

    Thank you so much for your help.

    Best wishes


  • Hi @sarahfg,

    Thanks for your description. The task you describe seems to be a verbal recall task where you want to present background music during the encoding phase.

    Can you specify whether your task consist in the presentation of a unique list of words while music is playing, or whether, instead, you're planning to present several lists (a list per trial) with the recall test before the presentation of the next list? From your description, I understand that you only want the music presented during the encoding phase, is that correct? If so, things are quite simple, you simply need to make sure that your sound files are in the pool, and then play them using the sampler object (setting the sound duration to 0 ms: this will be interpreted by Open Sesame as a command to start playing the sound and continue executing the program, such that the music will carry on playing while the next events are presented).

    There are many issues you need to have clear in your mind before you start programming your experiment, especially regarding the design (when within, are you going to block trials by condition or are you going to present the trials from the two conditions intermixed?, etc.). This will determine how you should go about programming your experiment. Same with the response method etc. You need to take the time to get familiar with Open Sesame, go through the documentation and tutorials, and learn some basic notions first.

    To answer your initial question: yes, Open Sesame allows you to present sound in the background while presenting a series of words.

    I'll provide a basic example below, just to illustrate how to do it (you'll have adapt it to suit your particular design and needs). My description below will only really make sense once you've gone through the tutorials etc.

    In my example, I'm presenting two trials. Each trial begins with music and a 1 sec fixation cross, followed by the sequential presentation of 5 words (for one second each). After this, the word "recall" appears on the screen. I have not implemented the bit that would record the participants' responses (you0ll have to do that depending on the characteristics you want for hat phase).

    Here's the basic structure of the task:

    You can see here the loop with the variables used by the trial_sequence to present the information from the trials. You'll notice the sampler object at the beginning of the sequence:

    The sampler will use the content of the music_file column in the loop to determine which file is to be played. Your files must be loaded up into the file pool.

    You can either edit your sound files so that they have the duration required for your trial or, as I've done here, use long musical pieces and use Python code to stop the sampler one the presentation of the words is finished:

    You can download my example from this link:

    (the file was a little too large to post it directly here)

    To minimize the size of your experiment's file, I recommend saving your sound files in the .ogg format (saves space relative to .wav).

    Note that this example works if you execute the task through Open Sesame but will not work in OSWeb (i.e., through a browser) because it contains some Python code (see

    I hope the explanations above, the example will help you program your task, together with the documentation and tutorials available on Open Sesame's web site will hep you program your experiment.

    Good luck!


    PS: when replying to posts on the forum, it is recommended to use the correspondent's handle so that the get notified of the arrival of your message. To do so, just type "@" followed by the first letters of your correspondent's handle. For example, if you type "@F", the following menu will pop up:

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  • Hi @Fab

    Thank you SO much for all your amazing advice. You have been extremely helpful. As we are just currently devising our experiment, we are not entirely sure how we will be presenting every variable thus far, so you may hear from me again, sorry ;)

    Once again, thank you so much for taking the time to explain how to use Open Sesame with helpful images and links.

    Best wishes


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