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Discovering GEMS in Music: Armonique Digs for Music You Like

Faculty Supervisor:
Dwight Krehbiel
Year of Project Completion:
Amber Anderson & Miriam Weaverdyck


There are many methods to measure which emotions are elicited by music. The recently developed Geneva Emotional Music Scale (GEMS) includes 33 emotion terms, reduced by factor analysis to 9 dimensions. In this study, participants rated music using these 9 dimensions on a scale from “not at all” to “very much.” Armonique is a music search engine that suggests songs based on structural similarities revealed by power-law metrics. Previous studies using a small set of emotion dimensions have demonstrated similar emotional responses to songs judged to be similar by Armonique. Using these resources, we sought to answer the questions: (1) Which musically elicited emotions are predictive of liking? (2) Does Armonique's structural analysis translate into specific emotional responses given by the GEMS dimensions? Thirty participants listened to 6 excerpts (3 similar, 3 dissimilar) chosen by Armonique in relation to an original piece, to which they also listened, and rated their own emotional responses. In previous experiments, only three dimensions were used to measure emotion while this study combined these three measures with the 9 GEMS ratings. The data were then compiled and analyzed to look for correlations between emotions. Liking ratings were positively correlated (.6 ≤ r ≤ .7) with ratings of pleasantness, joyful activation, and inspiration, while there were lower correlations (.3 ≤ r ≤ .5) with tenderness, nostalgia, peacefulness, and power. By contrast, liking was negatively correlated with tension. Similarity to the original piece was greater for similar than for dissimilar songs in ratings of liking, pleasantness, tension, joyful activation, nostalgia, and wonder. Through the use of GEMS, this research suggests several emotional factors that may influence listeners' like or dislike for a particular piece of music and provides a more detailed validation of the performance of the Armonique search engine.

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As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.