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The minor third communicates sadness in speech, mirroring its use in music.
Emotion. 2010 Jun; 10(3):335-48.E

Abstract

There is a long history of attempts to explain why music is perceived as expressing emotion. The relationship between pitches serves as an important cue for conveying emotion in music. The musical interval referred to as the minor third is generally thought to convey sadness. We reveal that the minor third also occurs in the pitch contour of speech conveying sadness. Bisyllabic speech samples conveying four emotions were recorded by 9 actresses. Acoustic analyses revealed that the relationship between the 2 salient pitches of the sad speech samples tended to approximate a minor third. Participants rated the speech samples for perceived emotion, and the use of numerous acoustic parameters as cues for emotional identification was modeled using regression analysis. The minor third was the most reliable cue for identifying sadness. Additional participants rated musical intervals for emotion, and their ratings verified the historical association between the musical minor third and sadness. These findings support the theory that human vocal expressions and music share an acoustic code for communicating sadness.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Department of Psychology, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155, USA. meagan.curtis@tufts.eduNo affiliation info available

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article

Language

eng

PubMed ID

20515223

Citation

Curtis, Meagan E., and Jamshed J. Bharucha. "The Minor Third Communicates Sadness in Speech, Mirroring Its Use in Music." Emotion (Washington, D.C.), vol. 10, no. 3, 2010, pp. 335-48.
Curtis ME, Bharucha JJ. The minor third communicates sadness in speech, mirroring its use in music. Emotion. 2010;10(3):335-48.
Curtis, M. E., & Bharucha, J. J. (2010). The minor third communicates sadness in speech, mirroring its use in music. Emotion (Washington, D.C.), 10(3), 335-48. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0017928
Curtis ME, Bharucha JJ. The Minor Third Communicates Sadness in Speech, Mirroring Its Use in Music. Emotion. 2010;10(3):335-48. PubMed PMID: 20515223.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - The minor third communicates sadness in speech, mirroring its use in music. AU - Curtis,Meagan E, AU - Bharucha,Jamshed J, PY - 2010/6/3/entrez PY - 2010/6/3/pubmed PY - 2010/9/4/medline SP - 335 EP - 48 JF - Emotion (Washington, D.C.) JO - Emotion VL - 10 IS - 3 N2 - There is a long history of attempts to explain why music is perceived as expressing emotion. The relationship between pitches serves as an important cue for conveying emotion in music. The musical interval referred to as the minor third is generally thought to convey sadness. We reveal that the minor third also occurs in the pitch contour of speech conveying sadness. Bisyllabic speech samples conveying four emotions were recorded by 9 actresses. Acoustic analyses revealed that the relationship between the 2 salient pitches of the sad speech samples tended to approximate a minor third. Participants rated the speech samples for perceived emotion, and the use of numerous acoustic parameters as cues for emotional identification was modeled using regression analysis. The minor third was the most reliable cue for identifying sadness. Additional participants rated musical intervals for emotion, and their ratings verified the historical association between the musical minor third and sadness. These findings support the theory that human vocal expressions and music share an acoustic code for communicating sadness. SN - 1931-1516 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/20515223/The_minor_third_communicates_sadness_in_speech_mirroring_its_use_in_music_ L2 - http://content.apa.org/journals/emo/10/3/335 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -