Acoustic intensity causes perceived changes in arousal levels in music: an experimental investigation.

MARCS Auditory Laboratories, University of Western Sydney, Milperra, New South Wales, Australia.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.53). 04/2011; 6(4):e18591. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0018591
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Listener perceptions of changes in the arousal expressed by classical music have been found to correlate with changes in sound intensity/loudness over time. This study manipulated the intensity profiles of different pieces of music in order to test the causal nature of this relationship. Listeners (N = 38) continuously rated their perceptions of the arousal expressed by each piece. An extract from Dvorak's Slavonic Dance Opus 46 No 1 was used to create a variant in which the direction of change in intensity was inverted, while other features were retained. Even though it was only intensity that was inverted, perceived arousal was also inverted. The original intensity profile was also superimposed on three new pieces of music. The time variation in the perceived arousal of all pieces was similar to their intensity profile. Time series analyses revealed that intensity variation was a major influence on the arousal perception in all pieces, in spite of their stylistic diversity.

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