Research Proposal: The Emotions of Music

Musicality is inextricably embedded in human culture. In our world, we are influenced by music every day. The ways in which music is perceived and understood are relatively universal. Music evokes emotions and related responses in the listener, who is then able to better understand a musical performance or rendition. As such, the idea of music as an emotional catalyst is a massive field of study that has yielded decades of research and investigation. In order to narrow this significantly, I will investigate a number of the ways in which music affects the human psyche. The primary focus will be the types of responses evoked, such as emotional and interpersonal. I will also address the evocation of emotional responses in the active experience of listening to music as opposed to a passive experience. I will accomplish this by researching the types of emotions elicited, the manner in which these emotions are elicited, the importance of active listening, and the respective failures and successes of certain musical philosophies.

I believe that I will find that the emotions that music can bring out will cover the spectrum from fear to exuberance. More so, I think that I will be able to express the relationship between emotions and music in a way that will create an opening for an intelligent and educated discussion about the shortcomings of traditional musical philosophies. I feel that this ability is key in the changing landscape of scientific research and theories. I aim to construct an informed opinion on the accepted theory of musical expression.


Patel, Aniruddh D. “Musical Rhythm, Linguistic Rhythm, and Human Evolution.” Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal 24.1 (September 2006): pp. 99-104. JSTOR. Web. 28 September 2015.

Steedman, Mark J. “The Perception of Musical Rhythm and Metre.” Perception 6.5 (October 1977): pp.         555-569. Sage Journals. Web. 29 September 2015.

Grahn, Jessica A. and James B. Rowe. “Feeling the Beat: Premoter and Striatal Interactions in Musicians         and Nonmusicians during Beat Perceptions.” The Journal of Neuroscience. 29.23 (June 2009):          pp. 7540-7548. Society for Neuroscience. Web. 29 September 2015.

Leech-Wilkinson, Daniel. “The emotional power of musical performance.” The Emotional Power of Music:            Multidisciplinary perspectives on musical arousal, expression, and social control. : Oxford University Press, 2013-07-11. Oxford Scholarship Online. 2013-09-26. Web. 12 October 2015

Kania, Andrew, “The Philosophy of Music”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2014),   Edward N. Zalta (ed.). Web. 12 October 2015


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