Influence of pitch height on the perception of submissiveness and threat in musical passages

  • Huron D
  • Kinney D
  • Precoda K
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Bolinger, Ohala, Morton and others have established that vocal pitch height is perceived to be associated with social signals of dominance and submissiveness: higher vocal pitch is associated with submissiveness, whereas lower vocal pitch is associated with social dominance. An experiment was carried out to test this relationship in the perception of non-vocal melodies. Results show a parallel situation in music: higher-pitched melodies sound more submissive (less threatening) than lower-pitched melodies. Submitted

Author-supplied keywords

  • aggression
  • emotion
  • music
  • pitch height
  • prosody
  • threat
  • timidity

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  • David Huron

  • Daryl Kinney

  • Kristin Precoda

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