Effects of pitch and timing expectancy on musical emotion
Psychomusicology: Music, Mind and Brain
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Pitch and timing information work hand in hand to create a coherent piece of music; but what happens when this information goes against the norm? Relationships between musical expectancy and emotional responses were investigated in a study conducted with 40 participants: 20 musicians and 20 non-musicians. Participants took part in one of two behavioral paradigms measuring continuous expectancy or emotional responses (arousal and valence) while listening to folk melodies that exhibited either high or low pitch predictability and high or low onset predictability. The causal influence of pitch predictability was investigated in an additional condition where pitch was artificially manipulated and a comparison conducted between original and manipulated forms; the dynamic correlative influence of pitch and timing information and its perception on emotional change during listening was evaluated using cross-sectional time series analysis. The results indicate that pitch and onset predictability are consistent predictors of perceived expectancy and emotional response, with onset carrying more weight than pitch. In addition, musicians and non-musicians do not differ in their responses, possibly due to shared cultural background and knowledge. The results demonstrate in a controlled lab-based setting a precise, quantitative relationship between the predictability of musical structure, expectation and emotional response.