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Single chords convey distinct emotional qualities to both naïve and expert listeners.

Lahdelma, I. and Eerola, T. (2016) 'Single chords convey distinct emotional qualities to both naïve and expert listeners.', Psychology of music., 44 (1). pp. 37-54.

Abstract

Previous research on music and emotions has been able to pinpoint many structural features conveying emotions. Empirical research on vertical harmony’s emotional qualities, however, has been rare. The main studies in harmony and emotions usually concern the horizontal aspects of harmony, ignoring emotional qualities of chords as such. An empirical experiment was conducted where participants (N = 269) evaluated pre-chosen chords on a 9-item scale of given emotional dimensions. 14 different chords (major, minor, diminished, augmented triads and dominant, major and minor seventh chords with inversions) were played with two distinct timbres (piano and strings). The results suggest significant differences in emotion perception across chords. These were consistent with notions about musical conventions, while providing novel data on how seventh chords affect emotion perception. The inversions and timbre also contributed to the evaluations. Moreover, certain chords played on the strings scored moderately high on the dimension of ‘nostalgia/longing,’ which is usually held as a musical emotion rising only from extra-musical connotations and conditioning, not intrinsically from the structural features of the music. The role of background variables to the results was largely negligible, suggesting the capacity of vertical harmony to convey distinct emotional qualities to both naïve and expert listeners.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Chord, Emotion perception, Harmony, Timbre, Vertical harmony.
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Status:Peer-reviewed
Publisher Web site:http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0305735614552006
Publisher statement:Lahdelma, I. and Eerola, T. (2016) 'Single chords convey distinct emotional qualities to both naïve and expert listeners.', Psychology of music., 44 (1). pp. 37-54. © The Author(s) 2014. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:17 October 2014
Date of first online publication:15 October 2014
Date first made open access:No date available

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