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The Way We AssociateColor, Music and Emotion A somewhat interesting but not terribly conclusive study By Lauren Patsos and Sierra Norris
Related Information • In 1256 participants, ranging in age from 3 to 7, Cutietta and Haggerty (1987) found that color associations were consistent across generations and music samples. • Rogers discovered the color for each pitch remained the same but in higher octaves the color was perceived as lighter/brighter and lower octaves as richer/darker. • Although projector vs. associator and strong vs. weak synaesthetic experiences are different, it is significant that the forms have the same basic mechanism (Martino & Mark, 2001). • When a synaesthete experiences shapes in response to an auditory stimulus, higher pitches generally produce more angular, sharper images (Martino & Marks, 2001). • Nawrot believes the research suggests development with music and emotion “involves both tuning of the perceptual mechanisms as well as some loss of sensitivity.” • Kallinen’s study concurred with others that happy and sad music are easier to discern than fear and anger. • Kallinen’s results suggest that basic emotions seem to have different dimensions in music, whose identification may be influenced by background such as level of music education, age, and gender.
Subject Characteristics 39 total subjects 30 Females (77%) 9 Males (23%)
Subject Characteristics Non-music major 25 (64%) Music Major 14 (36%)
Subject Characteristics • Primary Instruments
Research Methodology Survey Color Chart Hevner’s Adjective Circle Listening Excerpts
Vivaldi: Spring, mvmt. 1 Yellows most popular, but color choices highly individualized. Both Light and darker shades selected.
Vivaldi: Spring, mvmt. 1 Hevner's Circle Associations Although the responses centered around the intended response, they were scattered broadly over the circle.
Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring All 9 ‘cracker pepper’ black choices were by non-music majors. The Pearson Correlation Coefficient (r=0.33) between music or non-music major and color choice is statistically significant (p=0.02).
Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring Hevner's Circle Associations The Pearson Correlation Coefficient between major and adjective selection is r=0.327. This a statistically significant statistic at p=0.021. The responses were quite consistent with Hevner’s Theory.
Massanet: Méditation (Thaïs) Music majors chose darker colors than non-music majors (delphinium blue vs. blue ocean; apple spice vs. rose powder; imperial yellow vs. pale cowslip 3)
Massanet: Méditation (Thaïs) Hevner's Circle Associations The Pearson Correlation between major and adjectives selected is -0.319, with a statistical significance of p=0.024. The data works well with the theory behind Hevner’s Circle.
Gesualdo: Io partoe non piudissi Both music and non-music majors were all over the place in their color selections.
Gesualdo: Io partoe non piudissi Hevner's Circle Associations With 6 of Hevner’s 8 categories represented, this music does not fit with Hevner’s theory.
Mahler: Symphony 3, Mvmt 3 The non-music majors had 10 different color choices, but among the music majors there were only 6 colors.
Mahler: Symphony 3, Mvmt 3 Hevner's Circle Associations Pearson Correlation Coefficient (r) between major and adjectives selected is 0.279, with a statistical significance (p) of 0.043. This means that the difference between music and non-music majors adjective associations is statistically, but less so than the others.
Conclusions • Color choices were highly individual. • Music majors often chose darker or richer colors than non-music majors. • Hevner’s Circle responses were not as consistent as we suspected. • Music majors’ Hevner selections better matched the categories we had designed each excerpt to represent. • Why was Stravinsky the most statistically significant data? Because we as musicians are so familiar? Or is it the music itself?
Recommendations for further study • Expand the sample size, with equal representations of both major and gender. • Better accommodate unlisted or multiple color responses per excerpt. • Use excerpts that have been successful in previous studies. • Keep both variables of color and emotion – this is relatively uncharted territory!
Thank You! • You’ve been a lovely audience.