The Music & Science Lab hosts an active community of postdocs and PhD students who are investigating a broad range of topics from chills and emotional priming, to musical ability and harmony perception. Read more about our current projects below:

The fundamentals of emotional responses to music: Cross-cultural comparison of variations caused by harmonic elements of music using self-reports and psychophysiology

Dr. George Athanasopoulos

July 2018- September 2019

This purpose of this COFUND/Marie Curie Action project is to explore how different cultures appear to place dissimilar weight on aspects of music which may carry emotional content.  The aim is to research the emotional impact of

  1. the harmonic context of music on self-reported levels of affect, taking into consideration the participants’ culture and musical training and engagement, and
  2. the manipulation of specific parameters of real music samples on behavioural and physiological responses to targeted manipulations of tempo, pitch and loudness of traditional folk music originating from the participants’ own background cultures.

Fieldwork research will be conducted on site in the United Kingdom and abroad, taking into consideration the participants’ culture and musical training. Overall, the changes appearing in the perceived (self-reported) emotional states that the participants can identify in the music tracks, as well as in their felt (physiological) state, may shed light into how the manipulation of specific parameters affect emotional content from a cross-cultural perspective, and emphasize the role of participants’ culture in emotion-based music experiments.

Understanding emotion perception through music

Annaliese Micallef Grimaud

January 2018 – January 2021

The main goal of my research is to study the relationship between music and perceived emotions; in particular, identifying which properties in the structural parameters and emotional cues of a musical composition contribute to the conveying of different perceived emotional expressions. A subsidiary aim is to tackle the musical stimuli familiarity bias and ecological validity issues identified in previous studies. The creation of new musical pieces to be used as stimuli will eliminate or decrease the impact of both issues. Furthermore, a computer interface that allows for live manipulation of particular musical parameters has been specifically programmed for the research. This interface is used for analysis-by-synthesis experiments, where participants are in charge of changing the way music sounds in order to make it express a particular emotion, with the aim of understanding better how changes in the structure of a musical composition affect the perception of emotional expressions.

Selected conference presentations:

Micallef Grimaud, Annaliese (2019), EmoteControl: An Application for Live Manipulation of Emotional Cues in Music, 2019 Combined BFE-RMA Research Students’ Conference. Sheffield, England.