Posted on 11 December 2017
Dr. Hauke Egermann and members of the YMPG ran two sessions in which participants’ responses to four musical excerpts were measured using the Music Department’s audience response system. The research, commissioned by Danish technology company Bang and Olufsen, took place in the University of York Music Department on the 14 August.
The research was commissioned to measure emotional responses of 20 participants to music, including that of Eivør Pálsdóttir, a Faroese artist who was booked to perform at the press release of a new product by Bang and Olufsen in September of this year.
Measurements in this study show that the different pieces that were selected to express different emotional characteristics also induced corresponding emotional effects in listeners. Accordingly, participants experienced feelings of peacefulness, happiness, fear, or sadness. Even though the latter two feelings would normally be associated with unpleasant experiences, when experienced in the context of music, there were reported to be rather pleasant. This was supported by the physiological measurements in this study: the music had a calming and relaxing physiological effect on everyone, and the peaceful and happy songs increased the heart rate of the participant. We therefore conclude that listening to music like the selected songs might be understood as a means of experiencing contrasting positive and negative emotions in a safe environment. Taking time off to listen to music has an important function in managing to cope with emotional challenges we experience.
The YMPG was contacted to conduct this research due to the focus on research regarding emotional responses to music, and the ability to measure physiological effects with their audience response system. Find out more about this equipment.
YMPG is going to continue its research affords to understand how and why listeners respond emotionally to music.