Expression of emotion in Eastern and Western music mirrors vocalization.

Journal Article

In Western music, the major mode is typically used to convey excited, happy, bright or martial emotions, whereas the minor mode typically conveys subdued, sad or dark emotions. Recent studies indicate that the differences between these modes parallel differences between the prosodic and spectral characteristics of voiced speech sounds uttered in corresponding emotional states. Here we ask whether tonality and emotion are similarly linked in an Eastern musical tradition. The results show that the tonal relationships used to express positive/excited and negative/subdued emotions in classical South Indian music are much the same as those used in Western music. Moreover, tonal variations in the prosody of English and Tamil speech uttered in different emotional states are parallel to the tonal trends in music. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that the association between musical tonality and emotion is based on universal vocal characteristics of different affective states.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bowling, DL; Sundararajan, J; Han, S; Purves, D

Published Date

  • 2012

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 7 / 3

Start / End Page

  • e31942 -

PubMed ID

  • 22431970

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1932-6203

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1371/journal.pone.0031942

Language

  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States