Western Classical Music in the Minor Mode Is Slower (Except in the Romantic Period)

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Title: Western Classical Music in the Minor Mode Is Slower (Except in the Romantic Period)
Creators: Post, Olaf; Huron, David
Keywords: music
minor key
minor mode
speech prosody
Issue Date: 2009-01
Publisher: Empirical Musicology Review
Citation: Empirical Musicology Review, v4 n1 (January 2009), 2-10
Abstract: Two studies are reported that examine the relationship between musical mode and tempo in Western classical music. In the first study, modes were determined for 331 works bearing the tempo markings largo, adagio, allegro, or presto. Slower tempo markings are significantly more likely to be associated with the minor mode in the case of music from the Baroque and Classical periods, whereas the reverse trend is observed in music from the Romantic period. In the second study, an analysis of 21 audio recordings of theme-and-variation keyboard movements (from all three style periods) shows that variations written in the minor mode are performed more slowly than neighboring variations in the major mode. These tempo-related observations are largely consistent with research in speech prosody, which has shown that sad speakers speak relatively slowly.
ISSN: 1559-5749
Other Identifiers: EMR000064a
URI: https://doi.org/10.18061/1811/36601
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