Energy, Popularity, and the Circumplex: A Computerized Analysis of Emotion in 143,353 Musical Pieces
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North, A. and Krause, A. and Sheridan, L. and Ritchie, D. 2018. Energy, Popularity, and the Circumplex: A Computerized Analysis of Emotion in 143,353 Musical Pieces. Empirical Studies of the Arts. 36 (2): pp. 127-161. Copyright © 2018 The Author(s). DOI: 10.1177/0276237417704339
The circumplex model of affect claims that emotions can be understood in terms of their relative positions along two dimensions, namely pleasant-unpleasant and active-sleepy; and numerous studies of small samples of music have yielded data consistent with this. The present research tests whether the energy and beats per minute (proxies for the arousal dimension) and popularity as expressed in terms of sale charts (a possible proxy for the pleasantness dimension) could predict scores on six moods in 143,353 musical pieces. Findings concerning energy were clearly consistent with the circumplex model; findings for beats per minute were consistent though more equivocal; and findings concerning popularity yielded only limited support. Numerous relationships between popularity and mood were indicative of the commercial market for specific genres; and evidence demonstrated considerable differences in the mood scores between genres. In addition to the circumplex model and aesthetic responses, the findings have implications for music marketing, therapy, and everyday listening.
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