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Impact of melodic organization on perceived structure and emotional expression in music
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2006 (English)In: Musicae scientiae, ISSN 1029-8649, E-ISSN 2045-4147, Vol. 10, no 1, 85-117 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The traditional view of tonality has been criticized for being static in neglecting the impact of other musical features such as melody, rhythm and loudness on tonality. The purpose of this paper was to investigate a dynamic view of melodic organization which may have implications for listeners' perception of both structure and emotional expression. It was hypothesized that unstable/tense notes in the melody promote perception of instability and anger, stable/relaxed notes promote perception of stability and tenderness, notes important for major mode promote perception of happiness whereas notes important for minor mode promote perception of sadness. If these notes are emphasized and activated by means of accent structure they will affect listeners' judgements in rating scales. In order to achieve variation in accent structures, 72 computer-generated versions of the well-known tune Frère Jacques were produced by systematic manipulations of tonal progression, rhythm, melodic contour, and melodic direction. Melodies were assessed by listeners on scales "stable - unstable", "simple - complex", "relaxed - tense", "happy - sad", "tender - angry", and "expressionless - expressive". ANOVA and inspection of maximum contrasts in ratings showed evidence for the dynamic impact (stress) of accent structures on certain notes, according to the predictions. Further evidence was found in stepwise multiple regression analyses, where predictor variables called "Non Triad" and "Triad", representing accents on tense (non triadic) and relaxed (triadic) notes, significantly entered the models usually next after mode, harmony and rhythm.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2006. Vol. 10, no 1, 85-117 p.
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-91690OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-91690DiVA: diva2:164507
Available from: 2004-04-28 Created: 2004-04-28 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. A Dynamic View of Melodic Organization and Performance: Perception of Structure and Emotional Expression in Music
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A Dynamic View of Melodic Organization and Performance: Perception of Structure and Emotional Expression in Music
2004 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Psychology of music has shown renewed interest in how music expresses emotion to listeners. However, there is an obvious lack of research on how interactions between musical factors such as harmony, rhythm, melodic contour, loudness, and articulation may affect perceived emotion. From previous literature on music analysis and music cognition there is evidence that tonality may be activated and affected by rhythm and melody. These ideas generated hypotheses regarding melodic organization and performance, for instance, (a) certain notes in a melodic structure have expressive potentials due to their place in the key/chord, (b) these notes could be activated by accents in the melodic structure and/or in live music performance. In Study I, a simple tune was systematically manipulated with regard to harmonic progression, rhythm and melodic contour. Listener ratings of the resulting versions showed that perceived structure (instability, complexity, tension) and emotion (sadness, anger, expressivity) could be partly interpreted as resulting from accent structures and stress on certain notes. In Study II, musicians were asked to perform some of the above-mentioned versions so as to express happiness, sadness, tenderness and anger. The performers used loudness and articulation to compensate for lack of adequate inherent expression in melodies. They also highlighted certain notes of relevance for the emotional meaning by means of stress in articulation, loudness and timing. In Study III, simple three-note sequences were manipulated with regard to melodic, metric and rhythmic accents as well as (computer-) performed accents (loudness, articulation and timing) on certain target notes. Listening tests showed that accent on a tense note enhanced perceived anger. A note essential for the identity of major mode affected perception of happiness, whereas a note essential for minor mode affected perception of sadness. The results in this thesis have implications for a dynamic view of melodic organization and performance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2004. 51 p.
Series
Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 0282-7492 ; 138
Keyword
Psychology, accents, emotion, expression, musical structure, tonal structure, Psykologi
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-4242 (URN)91-554-5953-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2004-05-24, Sal X, Universitetshuset, Övre slottsgatan, Uppsala, 10:15
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2004-04-28 Created: 2004-04-28Bibliographically approved

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