Yiqing Ma, Ph.D. student of music theory, has recently published a research article in MUSICÆ SCIENTIÆ (the Journal of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music). Titled “Lyrics and melodies: Do both affect emotions equally? A replication and extension of Ali and Peynircioğlu (2006)”, this article investigates the relationship between emotional response to lyrics in songs, and influences from musical training in listeners’ emotional perceptions.
The abstract states:
What factors affect listeners’ perception of the emotions conveyed by music? Ali and Peynircioğlu conducted a series of experiments in which listeners rated emotional judgments of the melodies and lyrics of songs. Here, we present a pre-registered replication and extension of their study with newly adapted stimuli, including several covariates using the Goldsmiths Musical Sophistication Index (Gold-MSI). Using a within-subjects design, we asked participants (n = 104) to rate the emotions they perceived to be conveyed by unfamiliar happy, sad, calm, and angry songs, with and without lyrics, to model the extent to which each factor contributed to participants’ ratings. The results we obtained in our replication contradicted those of the original study, for several variables. The results of our extension, revealing a significant effect of the emotional engagement subscale of the Gold-MSI, indicate that emotion perception can and should be divorced from aspects of musical training. Taken together, the findings of our replication and extension highlight the value of replicating frequently cited studies in music psychology literature.
Ma’s 2023 article “Lyrics and Melodies” is open access and is available online.