International Computer Music Conference 2016 Papers Track

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The Effects of Pitch and Dynamics on the Emotional Characteristics of Bowed String Instruments

Previous research has shown that different musical instrument sounds have strong emotional characteristics. This paper investigates how emotional characteristics vary with pitch and dynamics within the bowed string instrument family. We conducted listening tests to compare the effects of pitch and dynamics on the emotional characteristics of the violin, viola, cello, and double bass. Listeners compared the sounds pairwise over ten emotional categories. The results showed that the emotional characteristics Happy, Heroic, Romantic, Comic, and Calm generally increased with pitch, but decreased at the highest pitches. The characteristics Angry and Sad generally decreased with pitch. Scary was strong in the extreme low and high registers, while Shy was relatively unaffected by pitch. In terms of dynamics, the results showed that Heroic, Comic, and Angry were stronger for loud notes, while Romantic, Calm, Shy, and Sad were stronger for soft notes. Surprisingly, Scary was least affected by dynamics. These results provide audio engineers and musicians with possible suggestions for emphasizing various emotional characteristics of the bowed strings in sound recordings and performances.

Author(s):

Samuel J. M. Gilburt    
School of Computing Science
Newcastle University
United Kingdom

Chuck-jee Chau    
Department of Computer Science and Engineering
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Hong Kong

Andrew Horner    
Department of Computer Science and Engineering
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Hong Kong

 

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