Cue utilization in communication of emotion in music performance: relating performance to perception

J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2000 Dec;26(6):1797-813. doi: 10.1037//0096-1523.26.6.1797.


This study describes the utilization of acoustic cues in communication of emotions in music performance. Three professional guitarists were asked to perform 3 short melodies to communicate anger, sadness, happiness, and fear to listeners. The resulting performances were analyzed with respect to 5 acoustic cues and judged by 30 listeners on adjective scales. Multiple regression analysis was applied to the relationships between (a) the performer's intention and the cues and (b) the listeners' judgments and the cues. The analyses of performers and listeners were related using C. J. Hursch, K. R. Hammond, and J. L. Hursch's (1964) lens model equation. The results indicated that (a) performers were successful at communicating emotions to listeners, (b) performers' cue utilization was well matched to listeners' cue utilization, and (c) cue utilization was more consistent across different melodies than across different performers. Because of the redundancy of the cues, 2 performers could communicate equally well despite differences in cue utilization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Auditory Perception
  • Cues*
  • Emotions*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Music / psychology*
  • Nonverbal Communication*