Repository logo

Exploring the variability of musical-emotional expression over historical time

Accepted version

Change log


Frank, Joshua 
Ross, Barry 
Venter, Carina 


A listening experiment was designed to test whether modern listeners perceive the same affective content in Baroque music as the composer intended to portray. Listeners rated three musical examples from Johann David Heinichen’s 1728 treatise Der General-Bass in der Composition for valence and arousal. Examples were chosen based on descriptions by the composer in which he outlined their intended affective content. Results showed a significant mismatch between original descriptions and listener ratings, indicating a change in the perceived affective content of the music. The historical variability of musical-emotional expression in general, with a focus on the role of structural emotion cues (particularly mode), is discussed, closing with suggestions for future research in the area of historical musical emotion.



Journal Title

Empirical Musicology Review

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title


The Ohio State University Libraries

Publisher DOI

Publisher URL