Can Single Musical Notes Evoke Particular Emotions?

Can Single Musical Notes Evoke Particular Emotions?

Can Single Musical Notes Evoke Particular Emotions?

Musicians have long been interested in the value of particular musical factors in creating emotional meaning within music.

Formal studies have also examined this idea as potentially useful for music therapy.

New research aimed to consider if single chords carried emotional meaning, within both naïve and expert listeners.

The aim of the current experiment is to gather empirical data on how single chords convey emotional qualities to listeners.

The participants rated chords for emotion:

The resulting 9-item emotion scale consisted of the dimensions of 1)Valence, 2) Tension, 3) Energy, 4) Nostalgia/longing, 5) Melancholy/sadness, 6)Interest/expectancy, 7) Happiness/joy, and 8) Tenderness. As an extra ‘dimension,’ we measured the participants’ liking/preference for each chord.

While previous research has found that music is able to convey emotion the results of this research found this is also the case for single notes:

single chords indeed convey distinct emotional qualities to both musicians and non-musicians

The research was able to show that chords evoked such emotion as expectation, tension, energy and interest/expectancy.

Interesting these results were found to be stable between musicians and non-musicians:

On the basis of our results, musicians and non-musicians perceived the chords’ emotional qualities quite similarly on a broad level.

Suggesting that the emotion related to particular chords is not learnt.