An Overview of Emotion as a Parameter in Music, Definitions, and Historical Approaches

  • Duncan WilliamsEmail author
Part of the International Series on Computer Entertainment and Media Technology book series (ISCEMT)


This chapter presents a theoretical overview of emotion in the context of music, particularly emotional analysis, different types of model, and the distinction between perceived and induced emotions. All are necessary to understand in order to examine emotion in the video game soundtracking context. You may be a videogame designer, sound designer, composer, or player; professional or enthusiastic amateur. Regardless, you will be familiar with the powerful role which soundtracking can play in shaping your experience. Music is a well-documented way to communicate feelings and emotional states, regardless of whether one has written, performed, or simply listened to it. When combined with other modalities, i.e., listening and seeing, or in the case of many games, listening, seeing, and responding with gameplay actions, the experience can become even more intense. High quality soundtracking has the potential to enhance player experience in video games (Grimshaw et al. 2008). Combining emotionally congruent sound-tracking with game narrative has the potential to create significantly stronger affective responses than either stimulus alone—the power of multimodal stimuli on affective response has been shown both anecdotally and scientifically (Camurri et al. 2005). Video game soundtracking has an inexorable link with the available technology at the time of development. This meant that there were—at least—some limitations in terms of what might be achievable in the soundtracking efforts for earlier generations of game, whether that be restrictions based on the type of synthesizer available to the composer, or the storage medium in terms of digital sound effects and speech. Game audio requires at least two additional challenges over other sound-for-picture work; firstly, the need to be dynamic (responding to gameplay states) and secondly to be emotionally congruent whilst adapting to non-linear narrative changes (Collins 2008). Early solutions such as looping can be come repetitive, and ultimately break player immersion, but branching strategies (where different cues are multiplexed at narrative breakpoints) can drastically increase the compositional complexity required in the music implementation when creating a soundtrack (Lipscomb and Zehnder 2004).


  1. Arizmendi, T.G.: Linking mechanisms: emotional contagion, empathy, and imagery. Psychoanal. Psychol. 28, 405 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bach, D.R., Grandjean, D., Sander, D., Herdener, M., Strik, W.K., Seifritz, E.: The effect of appraisal level on processing of emotional prosody in meaningless speech. NeuroImage. 42, 919–927 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barkat, M., Ohala, J., Pellegrino, F.: Prosody as a distinctive feature for the discrimination of arabic dialects. In: EUROSPEECH ’99, pp. 395–398. (1999)Google Scholar
  4. Berg, J., Wingstedt, J.: Relations between selected musical parameters and expressed emotions: extending the potential of computer entertainment. In: Proceedings of the 2005 ACM SIGCHI International Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology, pp. 164–171. ACM, Valencia, Spain (2005)Google Scholar
  5. Beveridge, S., Knox, D.: Emotion classification of western contemporary music: identifying a representative feature set. In: Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition, Seattle, Washington, 23–27 August 2010Google Scholar
  6. Bråten, S.: On Being Moved: From Mirror Neurons to Empathy, vol. 68. John Benjamins, Philadelphia (2007)Google Scholar
  7. Camurri, A., Volpe, G., De Poli, G., Leman, M.: Communicating expressiveness and affect in multimodal interactive systems. IEEE Multimedia. 12(1), 43–53 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Collins, K.: Game Sound: An Introduction to the History, Theory, and Practice of Video Game Music and Sound Design. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA (2008)Google Scholar
  9. Cross, I.: Music and meaning, ambiguity and evolution. In: Musical Communication, pp. 27–43. Oxford University Press, New York (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Daly, I., Williams, D., Hallowell, J., Hwang, F., Kirke, A., Malik, A., Weaver, J., Miranda, E., Nasuto, S.J.: Music-induced emotions can be predicted from a combination of brain activity and acoustic features. Brain Cogn. 101, 1–11 (2015). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dickinson, K.: Off Key: When Film and Music Won’t Work Together. Oxford University Press, New York (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Eerola, T., Vuoskoski, J.K.: A comparison of the discrete and dimensional models of emotion in music. Psychol. Music. 39, 18–49 (2010). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gabrielsson, A., Juslin, P.N.: Emotional expression in music. In: Davidson, R.J., Scherer, K.R., Goldsmith, H.H. (eds.) Handbook of Affective Sciences Series in Affective Science, pp. 503–534. Oxford University Press, New York (2003)Google Scholar
  14. Gabrielsson, A., Lindström, E.: The influence of musical structure on emotional expression. In: Juslin, P.N., Sloboda, J.A. (eds.) Music and Emotion: Theory and Research Series in Affective Science, pp. 223–248. Oxford University Press, New York (2001)Google Scholar
  15. Grewe, O., Nagel, F., Kopiez, R., Altenmüller, E.: How does music arouse “chills”? Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 1060, 446–449 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grewe, O., Nagel, F., Kopiez, R., Altenmüller, E.: Emotions over time: synchronicity and development of subjective, physiological, and facial affective reactions to music. Emotion. 7, 774–788 (2007). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Grimshaw, M., Lindley, C.A., Nacke, L.: Sound and immersion in the first-person shooter: mixed measurement of the player’s sonic experience. In: Proceedings of Audio Mostly Conference, 1–7. Lulea University of Technology, Piteå (2008)Google Scholar
  18. Herold, C.: Famous Blue Raincoat:-an approach to an integrated analysis of a song (n.d.)Google Scholar
  19. Huron, D.: Humdrum and Kern: Selective Feature Encoding, Beyond MIDI: The Handbook Of Musical Codes. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA (1997)Google Scholar
  20. Huron, D.B.: Sweet Anticipation: Music and the Psychology of Expectation. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA (2006)Google Scholar
  21. Juslin, P.N.: Emotional communication in music performance: a functionalist perspective and some data. Music. Percept. 14, 383–418 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Juslin, P.N., Sloboda, J.A.: Handbook of Music and emotion: Theory, Research, Applications. Oxford University Press, Oxford (2010)Google Scholar
  23. Juslin, P.N., Västfjäll, D.: Emotional responses to music: the need to consider underlying mechanisms. Behav. Brain Sci. 31, 559 (2008). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lipscomb, S.D., Zehnder, S.M.: Immersion in the virtual environment: the effect of a musical score on the video gaming experience. J. Physiol. Anthropol. Appl. Hum. Sci. 23(6), 337–343 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Livingstone, S.R., Muhlberger, R., Brown, A.R., Thompson, W.F.: Changing musical emotion: a computational rule system for modifying score and performance. Comput. Music. J. 34(1), 41–64 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Marin, M.M., Bhattacharya, J.: Music Induced Emotions: Some Current Issues and Cross-Modal Comparisons. Nova Science, New York (2010)Google Scholar
  27. Plans, D., Morelli, D.: Experience-driven procedural music generation for games. IEEE Trans. Comput. Intell. AI Games. 4(3), 192–198 (2012). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Russell, J.A.: A circumplex model of affect. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 39, 1161 (1980)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Russell, J.A.: Core affect and the psychological construction of emotion. Psychol. Rev. 110, 145 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Schachter, S., Singer, J.: Cognitive, social, and physiological determinants of emotional state. Psychol. Rev. 69, 379–399 (1962). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Scherer, K.R.: Acoustic concomitants of emotional dimensions: Judging affect from synthesized tone sequences. In: Proceedings of the Eastern Psychological Association Meeting. Education Resources Information Center, Boson (1972)Google Scholar
  32. Scherer, K.R.: Which emotions can be induced by music? What are the underlying mechanisms? And how can we measure them? J. New Music Res. 33, 239–251 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Strank, W.: The legacy of IMuse: interactive video game music in the 1990s. In: Moormann, P. (ed.) Music and Game, pp. 81–91. Springer VS, Wiesbaden (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Vuoskoski, J.K., Eerola, T.: Can sad music really make you sad? Indirect measures of affective states induced by music and autobiographical memories. Psychol. Aesthet. Creat. Arts. 6, 204 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Warren, C.: LucasArts and the design of successful adventure games: the true secret of Monkey Island. (2003)
  36. Wedin, L.: Dimension analysis of emotional expression in music. Swed. J. Musicol. 51, 119–140 (1969)Google Scholar
  37. Wedin, L.: A multidimensional study of perceptual-emotional qualities in music. Scand. J. Psychol. 13, 241–257 (1972). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Zentner, M., Grandjean, D., Scherer, K.R.: Emotions evoked by the sound of music: characterization, classification, and measurement. Emotion. 8, 494–521 (2008). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Zentner, M.R., Meylan, S., Scherer, K.R.: Exploring musical emotions across five genres of music. In: Sixth International Conference of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition (ICMPC), 5–10 Aug 2000Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Digital Creativity LabsUniversity of YorkYorkUK

Personalised recommendations