Strong experiences of music in university students
Research in Sweden has recently defined and explored the concept of strong experiences of music, which had been hitherto ignored by much research in the psychology of music and emotion. From a large-scale study of over 900 adults, Gabrielsson and Lindström Wik (2003) found that strong experiences of music included positive and negative responses to music, and could occur with any genre of music. The current research explores the generalisability of the strong experiences of music studied by Gabrielsson and Lindström Wik with a university student population in England, and compares the efficacy of the methods of analyzing accounts. 64 undergraduate students who had elected to take a music psychology module completed a free written self-report of their strongest most intense experience of music, and then answered a series of structured questions about the experience. The findings support Gabrielsson & Lindström Wik’s main response categories, with many more strong experiences occurring in listening than in performing (despite the high proportion of performers amongst the sample). Responses included fewer instances of perceptual descriptions and a large proportion of transcendental responses. Responses are analysed in terms of listening or performing. For listeners, most strong experiences were found to occur at music festivals or live events, and with popular music. Two types of respondent were uncovered: those for whom strong experiences were relatively frequent and could be repeated almost at will, and those for whom they were extremely rare. For performers, strong experiences were characterized as either relating to performance anxiety or to the sensory pleasure gained by performing in large groups. The current study supports earlier research in highlighting the importance of music in the narrative of people’s lives, and indicates high levels of recall about experiences which may have taken place several years previously. A consideration of the efficacy of content analysis and thematic analysis sheds light on the best ways of analysing free written descriptions of musical experiences. ...
ConferenceESCOM 2009 : 7th Triennial Conference of European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music
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- ESCOM 2009 
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