Variations in musical presentations and their effects on perceived emotions


Seminar Paper, 2008

19 Pages


Excerpt

Overview

Abstract

1. Introduction

2. Theoretical Aspects of the relationship between music and emotion
2.1 The relationship between interval distribution, mode and tonal strength and perceived emotions
2.2 The relationship between tempo and dynamics and perceived emotions

3. Empirical Studies
3.1 Interval distributions, mode and tonal strength of melodies as predictors of perceived emotion (Costa et al., 2004)
3.1.1 Method and participants
3.1.2 Results
3.2 Effect of tempo and dynamics on the perception of emotion in music
(Kamenetsky et al., 1997)
3.2.1 Participants and method
3.2.2 Results

4. Discussion

5. Literature

Abstract

The current paper investigates the influence that variations in musical presentations have on perceived emotions. Especially variations of tempo, dynamics, interval distributions, mode and tonal strength are taken into consideration. Two empirical studies will be discussed to explore the question. The first study examines the influence of interval distribution, mode and tonal strength on perceived emotions. The findings of this study support the idea that the expression of a particular emotion is associated with a distinct pattern of interval occurrences. Study two investigates the influence of variations of tempo and dynamics on perceived emotions. The findings of study two show that variations in dynamics have an effect on the expressiveness of emotions. Hence, the results of these two studies give an insight on which components of musical presentations influence the perceived emotions of the listener.

1. Introduction

Music plays an important part in our society today. Wherever you go, there is a big chance that you will find yourself listening to music. Whether you’re driving in a car, shopping in a supermarket, going out for dinner, music is most probably a present companion. The popularity of music is mainly due to the influence that music has on the human being. Music affects the emotional, psychological and physical aspects of a person. Therefore, the psychology of music has also become a large field of interest and research in the last years.

My goal in this paper is to determine which aspects or components of music influence directly the perception of emotions of the listener. Therefore, I would like to analyze specifically the effects that variations in musical presentations have on perceived emotions. I will focus on variations on tempo, dynamics, interval distributions, mode and tonal strength.

At the beginning of my paper, an insight into the theoretical aspects of the relationship between music and emotion is presented. Later on the focus will be given to the relationship of perceived emotions and variations on tempo, dynamics, interval distributions, mode and tonal strength. Thus, it will help the reader to get familiar with the topic and the theoretical constructs of the subject. Afterwards, I will present two empirical studies that deal with the effects of variations in musical presentations on perceived emotions. The study from Costa, Fine and Ricci Bitti (2004) gives an insight into the relationship between interval distribution, mode, tonal strength and perceived emotions. The article from Kamenetsky, Hill and Trehub (1997) examines the influence that variations in tempo and dynamics have on perceived emotions. At the end, I will resume and discuss the findings of the two studies in a general discussion.

2. Theoretical Aspects of the relationship between music and emotion

The discussion about the expressive qualities of music has been a matter of discussion by philosophers and music theorists for centuries. The most empirical research has been focusing on two aspects of emotional expression (Gabrielsson & Lindström, 2001): On the one hand, on which emotions can be reliably expressed in music and, on the other hand, which factors in music contribute to the perceived emotional expression. The latter refer to factors in the musical structure like tempo, loudness, pitch, mode, melody, rhythm, harmony and various formal properties.

According to Langer (1957, cited after Gabrielsson & Lindström, 2001), it is unlikely that a composer expresses his present feelings in a composition, even if this is a popular conception. It is rather more plausible that a composer tries to use various structural factors in order to achieve certain intended expressions. Therefore, emotions are created retrospectively and under the knowledge and control of the composer.

But just how does music express simple emotions? There are two main points of view on this question. The first, developed (and much defended) by Peter Kivy (1980, cited after Kamenetsky et al., 1997), is known in philosophical circles as "cognitivism" or "cognitivist" theories of musical expression. The second can be termed "emotivist" or "arousal" theories of musical, and is represented by authors like Levinson (1997, cited after Gabrielsson & Lindström, 2001). Until now, the cognitivist theories of musical expression have found support from empirical research.

Below, I will basically follow the cognitivist’s view from Kivy (1980, cited after Kamenetsky et al., 1997) and Davies (1994, cited after Kamenetsky et al., 1997), concerning the theoretical aspects of musical expression.

According to Kivy (1980, cited after Kamenetsky et al., 1997) and Davies (1994, cited after Kamenetsky et al., 1997), the expressiveness of music is in the music itself, rather than in the emotions of the composer or listener. This means that music can communicate emotional ideas without the necessity of composer, performer or listener experiencing any emotion or the music having to symbolize particular emotions. Furthermore, the natural expressiveness in a musical piece is rooted in surface resemblances between aspects of the music and aspects of the human behavior. This means that analogies between aspects of the music (e.g. melody, rhythm, metre, tempo) and aspects of human action that are indicative of emotion (e.g. movement, gait, carriage) account for much of the natural expressiveness of music.

In the following section, I will describe in detail the relationship between specific musical components and their influence on perceived emotions. These musical components are interval distribution, mode, tonal strength, tempo and dynamics.

2.1 The relationship between interval distribution, mode and tonal strength and perceived emotions

The first, and probably the most famous attempt to ascribe a particular emotional connotation to musical intervals was done by Cooke in 1959 (cited after Costa et al., 2004). He examined the tensions induced by pitch through distinguishing between tonal tension and intervallic tension. Tonal tension was induced by harmonic properties of the scale degrees, and intervallic tension was induced by directionality and distance between two melodic notes. Using a large sample from the Western European repertoire, Cooke isolated the basic expressive functions of the intervals ranging from unison to major seventh. Unfortunately, Cooke's approach was descriptive and lacked any systematic criteria.

Further studies continued to investigate the relations between ratings of evaluative and descriptive dimensions of musical intervals and their objectively measurable characteristics (Kameoka & Kuriyagawa, 1969a, cited after Costa et al., 2004; Levelt, van der Geer & Plomp, 1966, cited after Costa et al., 2004; Plomp & Levelt, 1965, cited after Costa et al., 2004). Still other authors have studies whether a listener can discriminate between different musical intervals on an emotional basis (Maher, 1976, cited after Costa et al., 2004; Maher & Jairazbhoy, 1975, cited after Costa et al., 2004).

The study of Maher in 1980 (cited after Costa et al., 2004) compared harmonic intervals formed at different geometric mean frequencies using 10-item, bipolar adjective rating scales in four categories (evaluative, uncertainty, arousal-potency and psychophysical). The results demonstrated that seconds and minor ninths were identified as distinct from other intervals, especially thirds, fourths, fifths, sixths and octaves, whereas the intervals from the minor third to the major sixth were not distinguished from one another in any of the four categories. In another study, Maher and Berlyne (1982, cited after Costa et al., 2004) focused on melodic instead of harmonic musical intervals. In this case, the listeners’ responses to these melodic intervals seemed to correspond to descriptions of the special characters of the harmonic intervals as found in Maher’s previous study.

[...]

Excerpt out of 19 pages

Details

Title
Variations in musical presentations and their effects on perceived emotions
College
University of Fribourg  (Departement für Psychologie)
Author
Year
2008
Pages
19
Catalog Number
V91122
ISBN (eBook)
9783638042963
ISBN (Book)
9783640099771
File size
599 KB
Language
English
Tags
Variations
Quote paper
Marco Gemmiti (Author), 2008, Variations in musical presentations and their effects on perceived emotions, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/91122

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