Musical Manipulation 1 – Qualitative Correlations Between Harmonic Dissonance and the Emotions

Ross Mclennan and Ross McLennan Part of CW18

Music’s emotional impact is ubiquitous. It is used to scare us on our screens, to soothe us into a state of consumer comfort in shopping centres and excite us into a frenzy of excitement at sports events. Yet this mainstream emotional manipulation, which seems so obvious, is in many ways still shrouded in mystery. This qualitative study analyses the manipulative power of one musical dimension – harmony – by comparing emotional reactions to a number of common and less well-known chords of varying levels of dissonance on music and non-music student participants. The results will be used to create a rudimentary harmonic/emotional framework to aid media composition students to manipulate their intended audiences. It is envisaged this framework will also act as a foundation for future research into musical/emotional manipulation.