Emotional responses to Hindustani Raga music: The role of musical structure

Frontiers in Psychology. 2015;6 DOI 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00513


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Journal Title: Frontiers in Psychology

ISSN: 1664-1078 (Online)

Publisher: Frontiers Media S.A.

LCC Subject Category: Philosophy. Psychology. Religion: Psychology

Country of publisher: Switzerland

Language of fulltext: English

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Avantika eMathur (National Brain Research Center)
Suhas Hassan Vijayakumar (National Brain Research Center)
Bhismadev eChakrabarti (University of Reading)
Nandini Chatterjee Singh (National Brain Research Center)


Blind peer review

Editorial Board

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Time From Submission to Publication: 14 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

In Indian classical music, ragas constitute specific combinations of tonic intervals potentially capable of evoking distinct emotions. A raga composition is typically presented in two modes, namely, alaap and gat. Alaap is the note by note delineation of a raga bound by a slow tempo, but not bound by a rhythmic cycle. Gat on the other hand is rendered at a faster tempo and follows a rhythmic cycle. Our primary objective was to (1) discriminate the emotions experienced across alaap and gat of ragas, (2) investigate the association of tonic intervals, tempo and rhythmic regularity with emotional response. 122 participants rated their experienced emotion across alaap and gat of twelve ragas. Analysis of the emotional responses revealed that (1) ragas elicit distinct emotions across the two presentation modes, and (2) specific tonic intervals are robust predictors of emotional response. Specifically, our results showed that the ‘minor second’ is a direct predictor of negative valence. (3) Tonality determines the emotion experienced for a raga where as rhythmic regularity and tempo modulate levels of arousal. Our findings provide new insights into the emotional response to Indian ragas and the impact of tempo, rhythmic regularity and tonality on it.