Communication of emotions in vocal expression and music performance: different channels, same code?

Psychol Bull. 2003 Sep;129(5):770-814. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.129.5.770.


Many authors have speculated about a close relationship between vocal expression of emotions and musical expression of emotions. but evidence bearing on this relationship has unfortunately been lacking. This review of 104 studies of vocal expression and 41 studies of music performance reveals similarities between the 2 channels concerning (a) the accuracy with which discrete emotions were communicated to listeners and (b) the emotion-specific patterns of acoustic cues used to communicate each emotion. The patterns are generally consistent with K. R. Scherer's (1986) theoretical predictions. The results can explain why music is perceived as expressive of emotion, and they are consistent with an evolutionary perspective on vocal expression of emotions. Discussion focuses on theoretical accounts and directions for future research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Affect*
  • Communication*
  • Cues
  • Humans
  • Music*
  • Nonverbal Communication
  • Psychological Theory
  • Voice*