David Curington (2015)

Portfolio of compositions: Composing using theories of emotion

David wrote a series of pieces that explore potential re-castings of theories of emotion in music as compositional techniques.

His central focus was Leonard Meyer’s thesis “Emotion and Meaning in Music” from 1956 (with more recent updates from music psychology such as David Huron’s “Sweet Anticipation”) which outlines emotional induction arising from deviation from, or denial of, expectations set up during the course of a piece, which of course may arise as a result of a listener’s own cultural bias.

However, alternative mechanisms for emotional effect such as rhythmic entrainment, visual imagery and emotional contagion (outlined in the recent “Handbook of Music and Emotion” ed. Juslin & Sloboda, 2010) were explored as alternatives to the Meyer model, and all of these theories are filtered through his own experiences of emotional reactions while listening to music – and evaluated in light of those reactions.

Each piece written was also subjected to a critical reflection in light of the theories employed and the interaction between theory and compositional application. Each was also given a holistic appraisal which might suggest new directions for research. (Photo credit: Sound and Music / RLeaHair).