When designing a new study regarding how music can portray and elicit emotion, one of the most crucial design decisions involves choosing the best stimuli. Every researcher must find musical samples that are able to capture an emotional state, are appropriate lengths, and have minimal potential for biasing participants. Researchers have often utilized musical excerpts that have previously been used by other scholars, but the appropriate musical choices depend on the specific goals of the study in question and will likely change among various research designs. The intention of this paper is to examine how musical stimuli have been selected in a sample of 306 research articles dating from 1928 through 2018. Analyses are presented regarding the designated emotions, how the stimuli were selected, the durations of the stimuli, whether the stimuli are excerpts from a longer work, and whether the passages have been used in studies about perceived or induced emotion. The results suggest that the literature relies on nine emotional terms, focuses more on perceived emotion than on induced emotion, and contains mostly short musical stimuli. I suggest that some of the inconclusive results from previous reviews may be due to the inconsistent use of emotion terms throughout the music community.

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