University of Jyväskylä

Dissertation: 23rd Jan 2016 Kind of blue: Emotions experienced in relation to nominally sad music (Peltola)

Start date: Jan 23, 2016 12:00 PM

End date: Jan 23, 2016 03:00 PM

Location: Seminaarinmäki, Vanha juhlasali, S212

Henna-Riika PeltolaM.A. Henna-Riikka Peltola defends her doctoral dissertation in Musicology "Kind of blue: Emotions experienced in relation to nominally sad music". Opponent PhD, Senior Lecturer Renee Timmers (University of Sheffield) and custos Professor Tuomas Eerola (University of Jyväskylä). In reserve Professor Erkki Huovinen (University of Jyväskylä). The doctoral dissertation is held in English.

The present work investigates emotions evoked by music listening from various perspectives. The research focused on the listeners’ subjective experiences of listening to self-defined sad music (i.e. music that sounds sad or is otherwise associated with sadness). The work comprises four studies, each investigating different aspects of these emotional experiences. Study I addressed this issue by examining the metaphorical language used for describing such experiences. In Study II, the descriptions were classified into three types of “sadness” that differed depending on the valence and arousal of the overall experience and the contextual aspects. Study III explored the attitudes towards sad music and involved a representative sample of the Finnish population. Study IV investigated the ways in which people share their experiences with other people listening to the same piece of nominally sad music. The main findings of every study contributed to the larger picture of experiences related to sad music. The shared metaphorical language used in communicating experiences to others revealed deeper, socio-culturally shared structures of experiences. The classification of different kinds of “sadness” gave rise to different contextual aspects of conceptualisation that affect the experiences. Concerning the attitudes towards sad music, by using a representative sample of population, the aspects of previous studies were tested on a larger scale. Besides verifying the existence of the phenomenon, identifying the contextual and preferential aspects made the claim of (social) context even stronger. Finally, by examining the ways in which people negotiate the socially shared meanings of these kinds of emotional experiences, this study revealed new aspects of conceptualisation (both musicand emotion) that affected the listeners’ experiences. In sum, the current work paints a more comprehensive picture of the myriad ways in which people experience, conceptualise, and share emotions associated with nominally sad music than the previous studies on music and sadness.

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Henna-Riikka Peltola