Gregory A. Bryant (UCLA) – Animal signals and emotion in music

IRCAM, June 9th, 2016

Speaker: Prof. Gregory A. Bryant (University of California, Los Angeles)

Gregory A. Bryant is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at University of California, Los Angeles. He received his Ph.D. in cognitive psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2004. His research focuses primarily on vocal communication, and how acoustic features of the voice interact with language and communicative intentions. He is also a musician and sound engineer, and his work has been included in sound art exhibitions in the Americas and Europe.

Title: Animal signals and emotion in music

The sound of arousal in animal vocalizations has been evolutionarily conserved across many mammalian species, and is often characterized by particular nonlinear acoustic features. Here I will describe research examining the relationship between these acoustic features and culturally evolved characteristics of contemporary music that have predictable effects on people’ affective responses. I will present studies examining subjective responses of arousal and valence to music with and without nonlinear manipulations (i.e., added noise or abrupt pitch shifts), and show how listeners’ responses vary according to presentation context. Additionally, I will discuss recent psychophysiological data using the same music stimuli, and present some preliminary work examining the emotional effects of nonlinearities in human voices. Taken together, these studies show how a biologically evolved signaling system can play an integral role in the cultural evolution of musical phenomena.