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Interplay between musical structure and performance in emotional expression of music
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Manuscript (Other academic)
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-91691OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-91691DiVA: diva2:164508
Available from: 2004-04-28 Created: 2004-04-28 Last updated: 2010-01-13Bibliographically 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.
Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 0282-7492 ; 138
Psychology, accents, emotion, expression, musical structure, tonal structure, Psykologi
National Category
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
Available from: 2004-04-28 Created: 2004-04-28Bibliographically approved

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