Musical Contagion

Encyclopedia (2023)
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Abstract

Music can contaminate us. Sometimes, listeners perceive music as expressing some emotion (say, sadness), and this elicits the same emotion in them (they feel sad). What is musical contagion? This entry presents the main theories of musical contagion that crystallize around the challenge to the leading theory of emotions as experiences of values. How and why does music contaminate us? Does musical contagion elicit garden variety emotions, such as sadness, joy, and anxiety? Does music contaminate us by simply moving us? Which role does imagination play in our affective responses to music? Is musical arousal elicited by automatic mimicry? What does musical contagion teach us about emotions? Musical contagion addresses fundamental theoretical and practical issues.

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Federico Lauria
University of Lisbon

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