Joshua Chapin

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Music



First Advisor

Edward A, Roth, M.M.

Second Advisor

Dr. Stephen M. Tasko

Third Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Fiore


Electrodermal activity, musicians, dissonance, skin conductance, arousal

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The purpose of this study was to investigate the subjective emotional and physiological responses to consonant and dissonant music excerpts in musicians and non-musicians. Participants were assigned to one of two groups, high experience (HE) or low experience (LE) based on their level of music experience and education. Participants from both groups listened to the same set of randomized musical excerpts half of which were consonant and half of which were dissonant. Participants self-reported ratings of perceived pleasantness, as well as Electromyography (EMG) and Electrodermal Activity (EDA) data were collected. Average Skin Conductance Responses (SCR) were averaged over all trials and conditions and compared in a mixed ANOVA analysis. It was expected that dissonant excerpts would elicit greater EDA responses overall and that there would be an even greater EDA response to dissonance in the HE group. Results showed no significant difference in overall EDA responses to consonance and dissonance (F(1,28)=.634, p=.433, r=.15). Musical experience did influence responses to dissonant excerpts showing significantly higher SCRs in the high musical experience group (F(1,28)=7.505, p=.011, r=.46). The results support the hypothesis that musical experience and education does influence perceptual and physiological responses to dissonance.

Included in

Music Commons