Proceedings. Keynote


Music and emotional meaning: Perception and production rules

Klaus R. Scherer

University of Geneva


Emotional meaning is multiply defined, with reference to B=FChler's Organon model, as representation, symptom, and appeal. The constitution of representational and symptomatic meaning is partly biologically determined and partly culturally constituted.

I suggest to formalize the lawful mechanisms whereby listeners within and across cultures access these types of emotional meaning inherent in music as perception rules. I further suggest that the appeal function consists in the induction, through music, of a state corresponding to the emotional meaning of the piece in the listener. This process of induction is described in the form of production rules.

It is proposed that the production of emotional experience through music occurs through a number of different routes, based on different mechanisms. I distinguish central routes (i.e., implicating the central nervous system - CNS -- in emotion generation) and peripheral routes (based on direct effects on the somatic and autonomic nervous systems - SNS and ANS - with ensuing proprioceptive feedback to central areas). A number of such rules, in particular the induction through central appraisal and/or empathy as well as the effect of peripheral rhythmic coupling, are identified and illustrated, including a brief review of the pertinent research literature (effects of music on subjective experience, cognitive processes, physiological response patterns, and motor-expressive behavior).



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