On the Interrelation between Listener Characteristics and the Perception of Emotions in Classical Orchestra Music
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This study deals with the strong relationship between emotions and music, investigating three main research questions: (RQ1) Are there differences in human music perception (e.g., emotions, tempo, instrumentation, and complexity), according to musical education, experience, demographics, and personality traits?; (RQ2) Do certain perceived music characteristics correlate (e.g., tension and sadness), irrespective of a particular listener’s background or personality?; (RQ3) Does human perception of music characteristics, such as emotions and tempo, correlate with descriptors extracted from music audio signals? To investigate our research questions, we conducted two user studies focusing on different groups of subjects. We used web-based surveys to collect information about demographics, listening habits, musical education, personality, and perceptual ratings with respect to perceived emotions, tempo, complexity, and instrumentation for 15 segments of Beethoven’s 3rd symphony, “Eroica”. Our experiments showed that all three research questions can be affirmed, at least partly. We found strong support for RQ2 and RQ3, while RQ1 could be confirmed only for some perceptual aspects and user groups.