CIMTR Public Research Lecture: ‘Sweet Sorrow – How Can Music Associated with Sadness Bring Pleasure to Listeners?’

Events — Online Webinar ZOOM
22 May 2023, 17:30

Despite the recent attention to how sad music is able to generate pleasurable, sadness-related experiences, the exact nature of these experiences and the underlying mechanisms are unknown. This talk summarises insights concerning (i) the structure and content of such experiences and (ii) the soundness of key explanations for enjoying sad music. In the first part, three approaches to understanding the structure of music-induced sadness were adopted. Qualitative analysis participants’ responses from a large online survey about music-induced sadness were subjected to thematic content analysis and the emerged themes were subjected to several large-scale surveys were carried out to further identify the reasons, emotions and mechanisms of these experiences. Following this, a series of listening experiments were conducted to investigate what kinds of emotions are experienced in response to nominally sad yet unfamiliar music. Finally, we tested a consolation theory involving specific biochemical substrates (prolactin and oxytocin) to explore some of the physiological underpinnings of these experiences.

Speaker Biography:
Tuomas Eerola is Professor in Music Cognition in Durham University. He studied at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, where he obtained degrees in Musicology (BA, 1997; PhD, 2003). His research interest lies within the field of music cognition and music psychology, particularly perception and induction of emotions in music. He approaches these topics by combining computational modelling with empirical experimentation. He is the first author of a widely used computational toolbox for music analysis (MIDI Toolbox, 2004), and has carried out pioneering research on music and emotions; He was the first to systematically analyse the applicability of the different emotion models to music with large-scale empirical data, which has become the standard reference in the field (Eerola & Vuoskoski, 2011). Overall, Eerola has published more than 120 papers and book chapters on topics including musical similarity, melodic expectations, perception of rhythm and timbre, induction and perception of emotions. He has been awarded research funding from Academy of Finland, ESRC, and AHRC.

CIMTR Public Research Lecture event poster with text.
CIMTR Public Research Lecture: ‘Sweet Sorrow – How Can Music Associated with Sadness Bring Pleasure to Listeners?’

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