Perceived Emotions in Phrygian Mode In Musically Trained Children

TitlePerceived Emotions in Phrygian Mode In Musically Trained Children
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2013
Conference Name3rd International Conference in Music & Emotion
AuthorsTizón, M., Gómez F., & Oramas S.
AbstractIt has been hypothesized by some authors that the Phrygian mode is associated with emotions of negative arousal. Here this hypothesis is further examined with children with musical background. The emotional responses of 32 children (ages 4 to 7) to music written in Phrygian mode were studied. Music presented to children was taken from two distinct corpora where the Phrygian mode is common, flamenco music (South of Spain mainly) and Galician music (North-west of Spain mainly). Children were presented with 12 short unaccompanied melodies randomly selected from the two corpora and rendered in three different tempi. They had to associate each piece to one of the four give emotions under study: happiness, anger, sadness, and serenity. An examination by tempi revealed differences in emotion responses: at slow tempo, sadness dominated; at medium tempo, happiness and sadness were almost tied; at a fast tempo, happiness took over. All these are in agreement with previous findings. However, when corpora were studied separately, unexpected differences arose. In Galician music happiness and sadness were almost equal at slow tempo (35.29% and 33.33%, respectively), and at fast tempo happiness percentage grew up to 42.85%. In flamenco music sadness-happiness percentages were 38.88%-22.22% at slow tempo, 37.5%-25% at medium tempo, 24.56%-31.57% at fast tempo. Here sadness was less affected by tempi than in the case of Galician music. This suggests musical mode is less deciding than expected and music structure may be a significant variable. Questions concerning enculturation and the Phrygian mode are addressed in our work.