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An Investigation into How Reverberation Effects the Space of Instrument Emotional Characteristics

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Previous research has shown that musical instruments have distinctive emotional characteristics and that these characteristics can be significantly changed with reverberation. This research examines if the changes in character are relatively uniform or dependent on the instrument. A comparison of eight sustained instrument tones with different amounts and lengths of simple parametric reverberation over eight emotional characteristics was performed. The results showed a remarkable consistency in listener rankings of the instruments for each of the different types of reverberation with strong correlations ranging from 90 to 95%. This indicates that the underlying instrument space for emotional characteristics does not change significantly with reverberation. Each instrument has a particular footprint of emotional characteristics. Tested instruments cluster into two fairly distinctive groups: those where the positive energetic emotional characteristics are strong (e.g., oboe, trumpet, violin), and those where the low-arousal characteristics are strong (e.g., bassoon, clarinet, lute, horn). The saxophone was an outlier, and is somewhat strong for most emotional characteristics.

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JAES Volume 64 Issue 12 pp. 988-1002; December 2016
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