Music as Emotion

July 18, 2021 by No Comments

Music as Emotion

Music and emotion research aims to uncover the psychological underpinnings of human-musical interaction. The topic, which is a subset of music psychology, investigates the nature of emotional responses to music, how listener characteristics influence which emotions are felt, and which elements of a musical composition or performance evoke certain reactions.

Philosophy, musicology, music therapy, music theory and aesthetics, as well as musical composition and performance, are all referenced in the study, and they all have important consequences.

Conveying emotions through music:

Early in life, the ability to sense emotions in music is thought to increase and improve substantially. Cultural effects on the ability to sense emotions in music are also present, and cross-cultural studies have discovered both parallels and variations in emotion perception.

Empirical studies have looked at which emotions may be communicated via music, as well as what structural features in music contribute to the perception of emotional expression. On how humans interpret emotions in music, there are two schools of thought. Music, according to cognitivists, just portrays an emotion but does not allow for the listener’s own experience of feelings.

Music is inextricably linked to human emotional states. The physiological reactions to various musical structures have been discovered to be related. Participants’ unpleasant emotional feelings are triggered by suprasegmental structures like tone space, especially dissonance, according to research. While listening to musical samples, participants’ emotional responses were assessed using physiological measures, including skin conductance and electromyographic signals (EMG). Musical patterns of rhythmic articulation, accentuation, and pace were shown to correlate with psychophysiological measurements relating to music.

Music has an impact on socially relevant memories, particularly memories triggered by nostalgic musical snippets (e.g., music from an important moment in one’s life, such as music played on road trips). When music induces nostalgia, musical structures are more powerfully understood in specific regions of the brain.

The inner frontal gyrus, substantia nigra, cerebellum, and insula have all been found to have a higher association with nostalgic music than other areas of the brain. Many of the musical snippets have specific impacts dependent on people’s prior life experiences, thus this caution should be borne in mind when generalizing findings across individuals.

Eliciting emotions through music

Music has been demonstrated to create emotions in the listener, in addition to conveying emotions to its listener (s) (s). Because the feeling is generated within the listener and hence difficult to assess, this viewpoint is frequently contested. Despite the debate, investigations have revealed visible reactions to evoked emotions, confirming the Emotivists’ belief that music elicits genuine emotional responses.

Response to elicited emotion:

Music’s structural elements not only assist in conveying an emotional message to the listener, but they may also elicit an emotional response from the listener. These sentiments might be entirely new or a continuation of prior emotional experiences. Listeners can absorb the piece’s expression as their own feelings and elicit a unique response based on their own personal experiences, according to an empirical study.

Basic emotions

Participants in the evoking emotions study report feeling a certain emotion in reaction to hearing a musical composition. Researchers looked at if the same components that expressed a specific emotion might also provoke it. The participants were given snippets of rapid tempo, major mode music and slow tempo, minor tone music, which were chosen because these musical forms are believed to express pleasure and melancholy, respectively. Participants assessed their own feelings, with higher levels of happiness after listening to music with happy patterns and higher levels of sorrow after listening to music with sad structures.

Researchers discovered a link between a piece of music’s familiarity and the feelings it evokes. Half of the participants in one study were randomly assigned to one of twelve musical pieces and were asked to assess their feelings after each piece. The other half of the participants listened to the same twelve random snippets five times and began evaluating them on the third repeat. Participants who listened to the extracts five times evaluated their feelings as being more intense than those who listened to them only once, according to the findings. This implies that a listener’s emotional response to a piece of music is enhanced when they are familiar with it.

Emotional memories and actions:

Music may link listeners to other emotional sources as well as elicit new feelings. Music might help bring emotional memories to mind. Because music is such an integral component of social life, appearing at weddings, funerals, and religious events, it evokes emotional experiences that are frequently already attached to it. Music is processed by the brain’s lower sensory levels, rendering it immune to memory distortions later on. As a result, establishing a strong memory link between emotions and music makes it simpler to recall one when the other is triggered.

Listeners may also take action in response to emotional music. Music has been created throughout history to motivate people to take certain actions, such as marching, dancing, singing, or fighting. As a result, all of these experiences have heightened emotions. Many people claim it is difficult to sit still when particular rhythms are played, with some even participating in subconscious behaviors when bodily manifestations should be restrained. Young children’s spontaneous eruptions into action upon hearing music, or joyful expressions displayed during concerts, are examples of this.

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