A comparison of acoustic cues in music and speech for three dimensions of affect

Gabriella Ilie, William Forde Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

218 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


Using a three-dimensional model of affect, we compared the affective consequences of manipulating intensity, rate, and pitch height in music and speech. Participants rated 64 music and 64 speech excerpts on valence (pleasant-unpleasant), energy arousal (awake-tired), and tension arousal (tense-relaxed). For music and speech, loud excerpts were judged as more pleasant, energetic, and tense than soft excerpts. Manipulations of rate had overlapping effects on music and speech. Fast music and speech were judged as having greater energy than slow music and speech. However, whereas fast speech was judged as less pleasant than slow speech, fast music was judged as having greater tension than slow music. Pitch height had opposite consequences for music and speech, with high-pitched speech but lowpitched music associated with higher ratings of valence (more pleasant). Interactive effects on judgments were also observed. We discuss similarities and differences between vocal and musical communication of affect, and the need to distinguish between two types of arousal: energy and tension.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-330
Number of pages12
JournalMusic Perception
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Published as Music Perception, Vol. 23, Issue 4, pp. 319-329. Copyright 2006 by the Regents of the University of California. Copying and permissions notice: Authorization to copy this content beyond fair use (as specified in Sections 107 and 108 of the U. S. Copyright Law) for internal or personal use, or the internal or personal use of specific clients, is granted by the Regents of the University of California for libraries and other users, provided that they are registered with and pay the specified fee via Rightslink® on Caliber (http://caliber.ucpress.net/) or directly with the Copyright Clearance Center, http://www.copyright.com.


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