The purpose of this study was to explore whether listeners can use timing patterns to decode the intended emotional expression of musical performances. We gradually removed different acoustic cues (tempo, dynamics, timing, articulation) from piano performances rendered with various intended expressions (anger, sadness, happiness, fear) to see how such manipulations would affect a listener's ability to decode the emotional expression. The results show that (a) removing the timing patterns yielded a significant decrease in listeners' decoding accuracy, (b) timing patterns were by themselves capable of communicating some emotions with accuracy better than chance, and (c) timing patterns were less effective in communicating emotions than were tempo and dynamics. Implications for research on timing in performance are discussed.

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