We examined effects of pitch and rhythm on the perceived emotional content of short melodies. We initially developed exemplars of melodies that were judged consistently to convey a single emotional category: happy, sad, or scary. We subsequently manipulated the pitch and rhythm parameters to derive three altered versions of each exemplar: a pitch-only version (pitch differences intact but all tones of equal duration), a rhythmonly version (durational differences intact but all tones of equal pitch), and a baseline version (all tones of equal duration and pitch). Listeners rated how well each exemplar and altered version conveyed its corresponding emotion. Effects of pitch and rhythm varied across melodies. In all cases, ratings were influenced more by differences in pitch than by differences in rhythm. Whenever rhythm affected ratings, it interacted with pitch.

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