THIS issue of Empirical Musicology Review comprises four main articles that use very different research approaches, and cover a wide range of musical styles. Susino and Schubert show how wide-spread negative stereotypes for specific popular music styles can influence the listener's aesthetic experience. They make use of a clever experimental design that allows them to dissociate the effects of lyrics and musical style. The corresponding commentary by Anglada-Tort supports the approach by Susino and Schubert, but also shows how this type of research can be generalised to align closely with the well-established recognition heuristic from Tversky and Kahneman's biases and heuristics framework in decision making.

The article by Hähnel and Martensen is a very exciting illustration of the effects that the arrival of new technologies can have on aesthetic practices and preferences. The authors track the vibrato in both non-commercial and commercial recordings by Thomas Edison's company, and relate them to Edison's own opinions on vibrato. The commentary by editor Daniel Shanahan situates this work within the larger context of the history of performance practice and the diffusion of innovations.

In his article, John Napier presents a corpus study on Hindustani Ālāp that compares structural characteristics of concert and studio performances of two different genres (khayal and dhrupad). His analysis shows that the extent and position of the structural characteristics varies between the two genres, and can thus be employed for genre descriptions and definitions. However, the degree of consistency and flexibility in the music was very similar across both genres and hence might be a more general feature of Hindustani Ālāp.

Temperley presents a corpus study on second-position syncopation in European and American music and hypothesizes that the syncopations found in ragtime music could have been influenced by British musical features, and that such features were rare in German, Italian, and French music. The corresponding commentary by Condit-Schultz suggests alterations of the definitions of syncopations, and proposes several interesting avenues for future research.

Finally, the commentary by Spitzer offers a critique of a paper by Lahdelma and Eerola (2015) suggesting that the feeling of nostalgia often associated with the major seventh chord might be dependent on general stylistic and specific harmonic contexts, as he explains with several examples.


  • Lahdelma, I., and Eerola, T. (2015). Theoretical Proposals on How Vertical Harmony May Convey Nostalgia and Longing in Music. Empirical Musicology Review, 10, 245-263.