THIS issue of Empirical Musicology Review comprises studies using three different but commonly used research paradigms in empirical music research: the psychological experiment, correlation and regression analyses of individual differences, and corpus studies.
The article by Clement Cannone uses a clever experimental design to investigate how the information that a piece of music is improvised vs. composed affects listeners' aesthetic evaluations. The trick of this study is that the music is always identical (a piece of freely improvised music) and only the accompanying information changed between the two different groups of participants. Cannone's results show that our perception can massively differ depending on how we think that a piece of music was created. The accompanying commentary by Anglada-Tort appreciates the interesting and novel insights from Cannone's study, but also suggests improvements regarding the experimental paradigm that can guide future studies in this area.
Musical appreciation is not only driven by accompanying information; it also depends strongly on individual differences. While there is ample evidence that age, gender, education and cultural upbringing predict musical preferences to a good degree, the article by Warrenburg and Huron shows that even more transient personal characteristics –such as personal fitness– can have an effect on musical preferences.
The studies by Kovacevich and Huron, Trevor and Huron, as well as Cutting all use different approaches of corpus analysis to identify regularities and common features of a defined collection of pieces. In their content analysis, Kovacevich and Huron describe the common features of publicly available videos that trigger the Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR); a sensory-physiological response that is akin to frisson experiences that are frequently evoked by musical stimuli.
In their article on the acoustic features of humorous pieces in classical music Trevor and Huron investigate the similarities between human laughter and staccato passages and find mixed evidence for the idea that composers emulate laughter when composing certain kinds of humorous passages. The corresponding commentaries by Lee and Mühlhans provide a closer look at the experimental design of the target paper and also discuss the generalizability of the results.
Finally, the paper by Cutting presents the first comprehensive analysis of blue notes in blues singing that uses audio analysis software and cluster analysis. Cutting determines approximate frequency locations for blue notes around the scale degree of the half diminished seventh chord (i.e. 1, ♭3, ♭5, and ♭7) and the neutral third. The commentaries by Pfleiderer and Hähnel raise some critical points regarding the methodology as well as the size and selection of the corpus of blues recordings. However, they also both recognize and praise the significant achievements of Cutting's study.