Research: information about the genre of music influences its perception

There are already many articles and scientific papers on the emotional response to music. But what about the response not to the music itself, but to information about it – for example, information about the genre?

Australian scientists from Flinders University have found that this information is enough to provoke an emotional response. To do this, they conducted an experiment in which 276 volunteers from Australia and Cuba took part.

The participants were given text snippets of songs indicating which genre the song belongs to and asked to describe what emotions they were experiencing. There were eight genres: Japanese classical music (gagaku), bossa nova, fado, bolero, heavy metal, pop, hip hop and western opera. All texts were translated into English and Spanish and, accordingly, were offered to the participants in the experiment who preferred one or another language.

However, in some cases, the participants in the experiment were deliberately named a different genre of music to which the text belongs. In other cases, the genre was not specified in principle. The texts themselves remained unchanged.

information about the genre of music influences its perception

It turned out that the emotional response of the participants to the lyrics depends on the information about the genre of the melody. Thus, texts that were presented as excerpts from Japanese classics were perceived more gently and calmly, and as if taken from samba were associated with excitement, joy and happiness. Metal and hip-hop were more likely to provoke anger.

According to the results of the study, the scientists concluded that information about the genre can be the basis for certain stereotyped judgments about music, which in turn affect its perception. So, stereotypes that Japanese culture itself is quite calm can also apply to music that is supposedly created in this region, and genres such as hip-hop and metal are associated with rebelliousness and therefore with aggression, which means that all the music of these genres is like that.

Moreover, participants from Australia and Cuba evaluated the melodies differently: for example, for Cubans, hip-hop was more often associated with sadness and aggression, while for Australians it was associated with sadness, betrayal and loneliness.

The fact that emotions about music may not have any connection with the music itself is already surprising. According to Marco Susino, the author of the study, the results show that music is not a universal language after all.