Laboratory of comparative musicology and anthropology of music

Transcultural study of relationships between music and emotion

Transcultural study of relationships between music and emotionPurpose

The endeavor of this research project is to study the emotional reactions of people when listening to culturally familiar or foreign music. In doing this, our objective is to update information about the possible universals of emotional categorisation.


Despite the general descriptions of music as a universal language or as the language of feelings, most of the musical research concerning emotion in music focuses on the listeners’ sensitivity to the music of their own culture (Balkwill & Thompson, 1999). In this project, the problem of music and emotion is studied from a different point of view, where the listener is confronted with music from foreign cultures. The main goal is to identify and analyse musical parameters that could act as signals and could be involved in emotional responses regardless of the specific emotional codes of each culture. The analysis of the variability of these musical parameters and of the different ways in which they may be combined, should make possible the identification of universals of emotional categorisation through music.

The contribution of ethnomusicology and neuropsychology to this research project is intended to find new discoveries in the field of emotion, as well as to develop an interdisciplinary methodological apparatus.

  • Fieldwork

  • New Publication

  • Members