although people generally avoid negative emotional experiences in general, they often enjoy sadness portrayed in music and other arts. The present study investigated what kinds of subjective emotional experiences are induced in listeners by sad music, and whether the tendency to enjoy sad music is associated with particular personality traits. One hundred forty-eight participants listened to 16 music excerpts and rated their emotional responses. As expected, sadness was the most salient emotion experienced in response to sad excerpts. However, other more positive and complex emotions such as nostalgia, peacefulness, and wonder were also evident. Furthermore, two personality traits – Openness to Experience and Empathy – were associated with liking for sad music and with the intensity of emotional responses induced by sad music, suggesting that aesthetic appreciation and empathetic engagement play a role in the enjoyment of sad music.
Listeners with a moderate amount of musical training rated the distance between the first and final key of short chorale excerpts under one of four presentation conditions. The distance between keys, or modulation distance, was either zero, one, or two steps in either the clockwise or counterclockwise direction on the cycle of fifths. Presentation conditions were four-voice harmonic sequences excerpted from the complete set of Bach chorales, single voices of the latter sequences, four-voice harmonic sequences simplified to block chords, and single voices of the latter sequences. Consistent with earlier findings (Thompson & Cuddy, 1989), judgments for both four- voice harmonic presentations and single-voice presentations revealed a close correspondence between modulation distance and judged distance. Ratings for harmonic sequences within a given key distance, however, showed influences of direction of modulation and of harmonic progression that were not reflected in ratings for single voices. The findings suggest that harmony and melody follow somewhat different principles in the process of identifying key change.
Two experiments examined sensitivity to key change in short sequences adapted from Bach chorales. In Experiment 1, musically trained listeners identified key changes in single-voice (i.e., soprano, alto, tenor, bass) and in four-voice presentations of the sequences. There were two main findings. First, listeners judged the distance and direction of key change in single voices and in four-voice harmony with approximately equal ease. Second, for four-voice harmony but not for single voices, the direction of key change on the cycle of fifths influenced perceived distance. For an equivalent number of steps on the cycle, greater distance was associated with modulations moving in the counterclockwise, rather than in the clockwise, direction. These findings were replicated in Experiment 2, in which musically untrained listeners rated perceived distance of key change. In addition, the directional asymmetry found for four-voice harmony also was found for individual bass voices. The evidence suggests that harmony and melody operate somewhat independently in the implication of key structure. Difficulties for a strictly hierarchical model of perceived musical pitch structure are discussed and a partially hierarchical model is considered.