The development of the aesthetic experience of music: Preference, emotions, and beauty

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  • Sirke Nieminen
  • ,
  • Eva Istok, Univ Helsinki, University of Helsinki, Finland & Finnish Ctr Interdisciplinary Mus Res, Inst Behav Sci, Cognit Brain Res Unit
  • ,
  • Elvira Brattico
  • Mari Tervaniemi

From an early age, children are attracted to the aesthetics of music. Employing a cross-sectional design including school-aged children, the present exploratory study aimed to investigate the effects of age, gender, and music education on three important aspects of the aesthetic experience of music: musical preference, musical emotion recognition, and the use of the aesthetic categories for music. To this aim. we developed an experimental procedure suitable to quantify children's musical preferences and their judgment of musical emotions and aesthetics. The musical material consisted of three short piano pieces: a piece in major mode, a piece in minor mode, and a free tonal piece. The responses of 78 children were analyzed, whereby the children were assigned to two age groups: 6-7-year-olds (n = 38) and 8-9-yearolds (n = 40). Children preferred the piece in major mode to the one in minor. Except for 6-7-year-olds without music education, children gave the highest happiness ratings for the major piece. Only 8-9-yearolds found the minor piece sadder than the major piece, and the major piece more beautiful than the piece in minor. The ratings of the free tonal piece were mostly indifferent and probably reflect children's difficulty in judging music that does not yet belong to their short musical history. Taken together, the current data imply that school-aged children are able to make emotional and aesthetic judgments about unfamiliar musical pieces.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMusicae Scientiae
Volume16
Issue3
Pages (from-to)372-391
Number of pages20
ISSN1029-8649
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

    Research areas

  • aesthetic experience, beauty, development, emotions, music, preference, tonality, SECONDARY-SCHOOL STUDENTS, AFFECTIVE RESPONSES, INFANTS PERCEPTION, MIXED EMOTIONS, MINOR MODES, CHILDREN, DISSONANCE, CONSONANCE, TEMPO, AGE

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