Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department


Reader 1

Jennifer Ma

Reader 2

Anne Harley

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The psychological research on music and emotion supports how the two concepts have always been intertwined. The most common line of research in this field is related to the commonly experienced phenomenon that major chords sound happy while minor chords sound sad. This proposed study takes a specific extended major chord (the Vadd11 chord) and tests whether the V chord with a color note, an added 11, has a significantly different emotional impact on listeners as compared to a V chord without an 11. The chord will be played within a I-V-I progression so that the Vadd11 chord is given musical context. Participants are asked to rate the how emotional the progression is and to indicate their preference between the two chords. Both piano and strings timbres will be tested. The chord progression change is hypothesized to cause a significantly increased emotional impact. Multiple confounding variables will be examined within the study (specifically cultural musical background, or what culture’s music participants listened to in their upbringing, and musical sophistication, or how musically adept participants are). Neither of these variables nor the timbre are anticipated to affect the changes in emotional reaction.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.