International Computer Music Conference 2016 Papers Track

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The Emotional Characteristics of Mallet Percussion Instruments with Different Pitches and Mallet Hardness

The mallet percussion instruments are gaining attention in modern music arrangements, especially in movie soundtracks and synthesized furniture music. Using a combination of these instruments, a reasonable variety of timbres and pitches are possible. Players can further choose mallets of different makes, which in turn significantly alter the timbre of the sound produced. How can these sounds be used to suggest various moods and emotions in musical compositions? This study compares the sounds of the marimba, vibraphone, xylophone, and glockenspiel, with different mallet hardness over various pitch registers, and ten emotional categories: Happy, Heroic, Romantic, Comic, Calm, Mysterious, Shy, Angry, Scary, and Sad. The results show that the emotional category Shy increases with pitch while Sad decreases with pitch. High-valence categories generally have an arching curve with peak in the mid-range. Mysterious and Angry are least affected by pitch. The results also show that the vibraphone is the most emotionally diverse, having a high rank in the high-arousal categories. Mallet hardness matters more in low-arousal categories, in which marimba is ranked significantly higher.

Author(s):

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

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

 

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