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The Emotional Characteristics of Bowed String Instruments with Different Pitch and Dynamics

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This paper investigates how emotional characteristics vary with pitch and dynamics within the bowed string instrument family. Listening tests compared the effects of pitch and dynamics on emotional characteristics of the violin, viola, cello, and double bass. Listeners compared the sounds pairwise over ten emotional categories. Results showed that the emotional characteristics Happy, Heroic, Romantic, Comic, and Calm generally increased with pitch, but decreased at the highest pitches. Angry and Sad generally decreased with pitch. Scary was strong in the extreme low and high registers, while Shy and Mysterious were unaffected by pitch. For dynamics, the results showed that Heroic, Comic, and Angry were stronger for loud notes, while Romantic, Calm, Shy, Sad, and the high register for Happy were stronger for soft notes. Scary and Mysterious were unaffected by dynamics. The results also showed significant differences between different bowed string instruments on notes of the same pitch and dynamic level. The results provide audio engineers and musicians with suggestions for emphasizing emotional characteristics of bowed strings in sound recordings and performances.

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JAES Volume 65 Issue 7/8 pp. 573-588; July 2017
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