Impact of melodic organization on perceived structure and emotional expression in music
Lindström, E. (2006). Impact of melodic organization on perceived structure and emotional expression in music. Musicae Scientiae, 10(1), 85-117.
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. ...
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