It’s not what you sing, it’s how you sing it: How the emotional valence of vocal timbre influences listeners’ emotional perception of words
AuthorSpreadborough, KL; Anton-Mendez, I
Source TitlePsychology of Music
University of Melbourne Author/sSpreadborough, Kristal
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsSpreadborough, K. L. & Anton-Mendez, I. (2019). It’s not what you sing, it’s how you sing it: How the emotional valence of vocal timbre influences listeners’ emotional perception of words. Psychology of Music, 47 (3), pp.407-419. https://doi.org/10.1177/0305735617753996.
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This Here we present an investigation into whether vocal timbre impacts on emotional perception of sung words, and whether this effect is intersubjective. That is, does vocal timbre influence the processing of emotion in words, and does it do so in a similar way across listeners? If so, this could help overcome the lack of appropriate analytical techniques for vocal timbre analysis in popular music by approaching such analysis from the perspective of vocal timbres emotive content and how this emotive content impacts emotional perception of sung words (lyrics), specifically in popular, lyric-based, vocal songs. The results of a reception test on emotional word perception according to timbre valence show that participants are significantly less accurate in identifying the emotional valence of words when they are sung with a vocal timbre that has an incongruent emotional valence and, for sad words, they are also slower in arriving at a correct identification of the word’s emotional valence when sung with an emotionally incongruent timbre. This supports the hypothesis that timbre conveys emotional meaning and that the experience of vocal timbre may be intersubjective.
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