Music’s ability to make us feel chirpy, sad, excited or just plain bored can be accurately predicted by only a few of its basic elements, an Australian scientist has discovered.

”Among other things, loudness, tempo and pitch have a measurable impact on people’s emotional response to music,” says University of NSW music psychologist, Dr Emery Schubert.



His is the first study of its kind to mathematically quantify the emotional impact of music. Sixty-seven subjects listened to four classical musical compositions while they moved a mouse over a computer screen to indicate the emotion they felt was being expressed musically.



Their mouse movements indicated whether they found the music to be happy or sad and arousing or sleepy, on what Dr Schubert calls a ”two-dimensional emotional space”. These movements were automatically recorded by the computer once each second throughout the musical performance.



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