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Music Perception
All the Pain and Joy of the World in a Single Melody: A Transylvanian Case Study on Musical Emotion
Filippo Bonini Baraldi


THE STUDY OF MUSICAL EMOTIONS IS A CHALLENGE for psychology and neuroscience, but the ethnomusicological account is often excluded from the debate. The present article focuses on types of performances that differ from the model of Western classical music: weddings and funerals in a Gypsy community of Transylvania. Analysis of musical activity and expression of emotions in these contexts showed that aesthetic meanings are transformed when music is embedded in social action: the same tunes are played while people dance at weddings and while they cry at funerals. The major anthropological hypothesis suggested by this study is that music acts in rituals as a means for establishing and reinforcing the emotional experiences of different kinds of relationships. The hypotheses and data are discussed in light of recent psychological research on musical emotion.

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