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Expressing Emotion Through Music

It’s all in the timing: A psychologist measures how musicians communicate emotion

Dan Levitin designed a psychology experiment using a special player piano to analyze and reproduce a performance without expressive elements, and versions in between. When participants ranked their preference of versions it was found they matched the most expressive, in which a musician uses variations in timing, loudness and softness to convey emotion. In the second brief video, part 2, Levitin discusses implications for synthesized music. Hat tip: Open Culture.

Expressing Emotion Through Music

Sandra Kiume

Sandra Kiume is a mental health advocate from Vancouver, Canada, and the founder of @unsuicide. Along with maintaining Channel N, she contributes to World of Psychology.

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APA Reference
Kiume, S. (2011). Expressing Emotion Through Music. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 22, 2019, from


Last updated: 3 Apr 2011
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Apr 2011
Published on All rights reserved.