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Emotional Responses to Bach’s Sarabande from Cello Suite #6:

Faculty Supervisor:
Dwight Krehbiel
Year of Project Completion:
Matthew Kaiser


How are the emotions perceived in music different from those actually experienced by the listener, and how can these perceptions and experiences be best measured in a continuous fashion? In this experiment participants listened to four samples of music and were asked in different sessions to report their experienced emotion and the emotion they perceived in the music using each of two different continuous recording instruments. One LabVIEW-based software instrument employed a two-dimensional space consisting of a circumplex with emotion labels, while the second employed two sliders with labels only at each end. Location along the two principal dimensions of pleasantness and activation was recorded each second as the participant moved a pointer toward the chosen labels. Hierarchical linear modeling showed that prior musical training increased the difference between experienced and perceived pleasantness. Responses recorded with the emotion space showed a significantly greater decrease in pleasantness than those recorded with the sliders when a distant key change occurred in J.S. Bach’s “Sarabande, Suite #6 D Major.” The key change may have been an ambiguous stimulus for emotion that the labels of the emotion space helped define, suggesting that the instrument with a labeled circumplex is more sensitive to music-elicited emotion.

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