Understanding Emotion in Raag: An Empirical Study of Listener Responses

  • Parag Chordia
  • Alex Rae
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 4969)


A survey of emotion in North Indian classical music was undertaken to determine the type and consistency of emotional responses to raag. Participants listened to five one-minute raag excerpts and recorded their emotional responses after each. They were asked to describe the emotions each excerpt evoked and then to adjust six different sliders indicating the degree to which they felt the following: happy, sad, peaceful, tense, romantic, longing. A total of 280 responses were received. We find that both free-response and quantitative judgments of emotions are significantly different for each raag and quite consistent across listeners. We hypothesized that the primary predictors of emotion in these excerpts would be pitch-class distribution, pitch-class dyad entropy, overall sensory dissonance, and note density. Multiple regression analysis was used to determine the most important factors, their relative importance, and their total predictive value (R 2). The features in combination explained between 11% (peaceful) and 33% (happy) of response variance. For all models, a subset of the features were significant, with the interplay between “minor” and “major” scale degrees playing an important role. Although the explanatory power of the current models is limited, the results thus far strongly suggest that raags do consistently elicit specific emotions that are linked to musical properties. The responses did not differ significantly for enculturated and non-enculturated listeners, suggesting that musical rather than cultural factors are dominant.


Emotional Response Free Response Scale Degree Spectral Centroid Pitch Detection 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Parag Chordia
    • 1
  • Alex Rae
    • 1
  1. 1.Georgia Institute of Technology, Music Technology GroupAtlantaUSA

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