Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Music



First Advisor

Edward A, Roth, M.M.

Second Advisor

Brian L. Wilson

Third Advisor

Dr. Lisa E. Baker


Musical dissonance, musicians, nonmusicians, emotional response, music therapy

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The purpose of this project was to investigate the influence of music education on individuals’ subjective and physiological responses to consonant and dissonant excerpts. Participants were categorized as having high experience (HE) or low experience (LE) in music education. Participants listened to 40 randomized excerpts of music, half of which were consonant, the other half dissonant. Electrodermal Activity (EDA) and Facial Electromyography (EMG) data were collected for each participant, as well as self-reports of perceived pleasantness for each excerpt. It was expected that HE participants “learned” dissonance through music education, and therefore would respond more strongly to dissonant excerpts. As expected, dissonant excerpts received significantly more negatively-valenced subjective ratings than consonant excerpts across all subjects (F(1,28)=58.4, pF(1, 28)=1.47, p=.236). This study supports that most individuals find dissonance to be more unpleasant than consonance. Further analysis of the physiological data acquired during these trials could potentially add to the body of research examining the impact music education has on physiological responses to dissonance and consonance.

Included in

Music Therapy Commons