The Future of Musical Emotions

Basic Emotion Theory proper (BET) has only recently begun to make an appearance in musical research.  However, much theory and research in music psychology have been driven by a more general assumption that musical emotions should be investigated in terms of discrete ad-hoc1 categories associated with the ways specific neural mechanisms respond to musical stimuli. This has been problematized, however, by studies that show that the physiological changes associated with musical emotions do not always align clearly with those exhibited in association with everyday emotion categories. Such concerns have led some scholars to posit that musical emotion may be somehow different (or perhaps “impoverished”) versions of real emotions. In response to this, other researchers have developed models that do away with the notion of basic emotions altogether, preferring instead to describe emotional reactions to music in terms of complex information processing components that combine in various ways to produce relevant outputs. Still, others have suggested that reducing musical experience to a stimulus-response framework—where emotions are thought to be caused in listeners by pre-given stimuli in the environment—may play down the active and creative role living embodied agents play in the musical experience.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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