Expressive Musical Terms (EMTs) are commonly used by composers as verbal descriptions of musical expressiveness and characters that performers are requested to convey. We suggest a classification of 55 of these terms, based on the perception of professional music performers who were asked to: 1) organize the considered EMTs in a two-dimensional plane in such a way that proximity reflects similarity; and 2) rate these EMTs according to valence, arousal, extraversion, and neuroticism, using 7-level Likert scales. Using a minimization procedure, we found that a satisfactory partition requires these EMTs to be organized in four clusters (whose centroids are associated with tenderness, happiness, anger, and sadness) located in the four quarters of the valence-arousal plane of the circumplex model of affect developed by Russell (1980). In terms of the related positive-negative activation parameters, introduced by Watson and Tellegen (1985), we obtained a significant correlation between positive activation and extraversion and between negative activation and neuroticism. This demonstrates that these relations, previously observed in personality studies by Watson & Clark (1992a), extend to the musical field.

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