Music To Move The Soul: An Analysis on the Affects of Music in Specific Genres on University Students.



Before starting this report on the affects of music on university student’s emotions/moods, I would like to acknowledge some people who have helped me through this project. There are many people who have helped with the success and construction of this report and the information that has been created and analysed for its purpose. Firstly, I would like to acknowledge Kate Bowles for the starting push into the project by providing the foundations for a good and successful research topic. I would also like to thank the teaching team of the BCM course, especially Stephanie Hanson for her expert advice and encouragement throughout the entire duration of the project. Secondly, I would like to take the time to thank all the participants of my survey, for taking the time out of their busy schedules to help generate information to fuel my research topic. I would also like to thank everyone in the BCM course, for the helpful feedback and advice on where to improve. Without the guidance from these individuals this report would have been deemed impossible.


The purpose of this research is to explore the issues surrounding the changing emotions that come through the course of listening and enjoying music. Therefore the foundation for this research was based around the question, do students believe that music in specific genres can affect their emotions, if so why? This report evolved from my curiosity and interest towards music and emotion within specific genres. This interest was sparked from the research conducted by Patrik N. Juslin and Daniel Västfjäll on the ‘Emotional responses to music: The need to consider underlying mechanisms’, forming around their theory that “musical stimuli can systematically influence the perceived emotional content in targeted visual stimuli” (Logeswaran and Bhattacharya, 2008). From this the aim of my report was to provide a foundation for a guideline regarding the affects of music on the emotions/moods of university students, creating a list of the more effective genres to listen to at specific parts of the day. This report aims to uncover, whether Australian University students believe music can affect their emotions, through the course of changing dynamics within their daily activities, such as; studying and going to the gym.

In order to gather this information, surveys were conducted to gain an insight into the average university student. The results found were then compared to research that had already been conducted by professionals to build and evaluate upon the findings surrounding this particular topic. This report demonstrates that analysis on the affects of music on university students is greatly influenced by that of musical genres, each having a different affect upon an individual; in terms of their emotions and so forth into their actions and perceptions, as discovered in secondary sources. The purpose of this research is to identify the relation music has on our emotions/moods, thus being able to create a guideline as to what genres of music are best to be heard at different points in your day, within different activities.


For this research to reach its full potential I had to make sure that the methods chosen would coincide with the aims of my project to produce the outcome I hypothesised. Therefore to collect my results and relate them back to my question I decided the best way to gather a substantial amount of information in a short period of time would be through an online survey.

Unfortunately, the strict guidelines given to us by the University of Wollongong meant that I had to adhere to the regulations set. This meant restricting my results to the students of the University of Wollongong, rather than Australian Universities in general. However, a narrow set of result meant I could cater my findings to one particular group of individuals.

The decision to conduct online surveys was done to accommodate the busy schedules of the typical university student. The online surveys also made it easier to collect and analysis each individual question asked, having a visual component to pinpoint exactly what was said by each individual participant, for this I received 29 responses. I found by conducting an online survey, it was not just effective for myself but effective in the long-term of this particular project. Smart surveys article on ’10 advantages of online surveys’ (2016), state that online surveys are ‘faster, cheaper, more accurate, quick to analyse, easy for participants to use, easy for researchers to use, easy to style and customise, more honest, more selective and more flexible’. Another reason for using surveys was to allow for both qualitative and quantitative analysis. By allowing for both sets of data, I would be able to gather a variety of responses that would give me an opportunity to further extend my theory towards music and its affect on emotions.



Quantitative Analysis

Conclusions drawn from the foundation questions asked through quantitative data, exhibited the assumptions I had already illustrated in my mind. The question were answered as followed:

  • 2) Do you regularly listen to music?
  • 3) What genre of music to you regularly listen to?
  • 5) Do you listen to music while studying?
  • 6) Do you listen to music while working out?
  • 9) Do you think music affects your mood/emotion?

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Figure one outlines the first baseline question asked to establish how many participants actually listened to music. This result did not surprise me at all, as it was an outcome that I was expecting to receive. I would have been deeply surprised if the outcome was anything less than 100% of the participants who took the survey, said that they do not listen to music regularly.

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The response for question 3 was more varied than most of the other questions asked in the quantitative portion of the survey. I asked this question to create the foundation for furthering my theory, questioning if particular genres of music would affect individuals emotions. Thus being able to use the information in a guide to establish what type of music would be more beneficial to your mood at different times of the day. The most popular genre of music listened to was alternative music with 24% of the participants responding with this answer as their most regular genre to engage with. 20% of participants responded with their most listened to genres as being Pop or other genres that weren’t mentioned (i.e. K-Pop and other genres). I was unable to get a hold of all the responses that participants had selected “other” as I did not have the premium account on surveymonkey.

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Leading on from question 3, question 5 looked into furthering the depth of my research by creating an understanding of when people are most likely to listen to music. The main activities during a university student’s life are studying, working out and relaxing with friends or family. Eliminating the activity of relaxing, I wanted to find out how many people listened to music while they were studying and working out, as I believe that many emotions are felt during these particular activities. The response for this question was varied as well, however I thought there would be more people listening to music while studying, just through observation. However, only 62% said they do listen to music while studying whereas 37% stated that they did not listen to music while studying as they found it very distracting, this was made evident in the qualitative portion of the analysis.

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Question 6 follows on from question 5, findings out if the participants listened to music whilst working out. I found the results for this question surprising with only 3.45% of participants not listening to music while working out. I expected a few more participants stating that they didn’t listen to music while working out, for reason such as, working out with friends, this conclusion was made through observation and experience. However the majority of participants (96.55%) stated that they did listen to music while working out, as the fast beats or soulful style of the songs would motivate them more to go harder while at the gym or when working out at home. After receiving this response I realised that a lot of workouts released today are very much based around music to keep you motivated and keep your mood in check for a high intensity workout.

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Question 9 was the most important question in order to collectively analyse and process all the previous questions together and create an understanding towards my theory and research question. I was definitely surprised the most by this question, I truly believed that many of the participants in my survey would either be unsure or on the fence about whether music affects their emotions or moods. Instead my survey found that 79% of my participants believed music could or can affect their emotional stability, and only 10% of my participants were on the fence about whether music could have that much of an impact on them. I do believe that once my findings for this research are concluded, the participants who responded with ‘maybe’ may reevaluate their thoughts and opinions on the topic.

Qualitative Analysis

The qualitative portion of my survey, evaluated more in-depth on the subject matter of my research. These questions allowed for the participants to engage with their thoughts and opinions on whether music affected their emotions in general and during particular activities. The questions asked are as followed:

  • 1) What do you do to change your mood?
  • 4) Why do you listen to the specific genre mentioned above more often?
  • 7) What types of music do you listen to when studying?
  • 8) What types of music do you listen to while working out?
  • 10) Please explain your pervious answer

Each of these questions invited more of a discussion on the part of the participant to explore their reasons behind daily activities in relation to the musical genres they were listening to. When reviewing the answers collected I didn’t notice anything out of the blue; if I had a bigger pool of candidates I may have found an anomaly within some of the responses.

However, within these responses I got answers that were similar to my own. Many participants would listen to up-beat, fast genres of music while working out to keep their motivation and stamina up. Participants would also listen to softer and calmer forms of music while studying to help them concentrate on the task at hand. The genre of music listened to on a regular basis differed among each individual but in the collective for questions 7 and 8 the responses where much the same.

Question 10 also favoured in the same light, although responses differed from being unsure to explanations that looked at how happy, up beat or fun music would result in a happier and more energised mood/emotion, whereas a sad or slower song did the opposite. Many of the responses also saw it as taking music into their own hands, as to provoke a certain mood. One response stated;

“If I am listening to quiet music it is probably because I want to go to sleep or I am studying, if I am listening to rock or pop I am working out or just listening for fun.”

This indicates that it is possible for music to provoke a certain emotional stance or mood, through the beat, melody or harmony.


This research topic has uncovered a fair bit about the affects of music on emotions towards university students; however, the research I conducted is only off theory as the results are still left inconclusive. However, when comparing to other research papers and other takes on the topic of music and emotion, further depth and analysis can be taken to grasp a greater understanding of how music can affect an individual’s emotional wellbeing.

Throughout this process my curiosity has grown enormously, making me wonder how this information could be relayed on to other research regarding music. One topic that comes to mind is music during pregnancy, once I had come to the conclusion that different musical styles could change the mood or behaviour of individuals, it got me thinking about pregnancy, and the ongoing notion that classical music is the best musical styling to play to your unborn child.

Partanen, Kujala, Tervaniemi and Huotilainen (2013) state that

‘Newborns seem to recognise familiar environmental sounds and melodies from the prenatal environment, discriminate between the native language of the mother and other languages, and recognise mother’s voice from voices of other females.’

Therefore the possibility that musical stimuli affecting newborns wellbeing could be possible. This could be to cause recognition to certain aspects of their lives or add meaning to cross-cultural values as stated by B. Arabin (2002). She goes on to say that;

‘Thereby different elements might be effective such as the pure effect of music but also the combination of a musical experience expressed by the mother’s voice-the voice that represents a salient stimulus throughout the prenatal period.’

However, though my curiosity and critical judgment on the topic are trying to come to a logical conclusion, without scientific evidence this is all based upon theory.

Nonetheless, to strengthen the foundations of my theoretical viewpoint, if I were to do this project again I would start by reconstructing my question. If I had more time on the project, I would design a more specific question that would be able to gain a more personal account from participants through how musical stimuli has affected their emotion/mood. If I were changing my question to be more specific, I would definitely conduct an interview with individual participants to gain a greater understanding into how much has affected them and in what ways.

It was originally stated that I was going conduct a group interview/focus group along side the information gathered from my survey. However, once receiving the information from my survey and analysing the results, I came to the conclusion that conducting a group interview/focus group would not be necessary. If the question I had asked were constructed in a different format or if my research topic was going in a different direction; I believe a group interview/focus group would have played an effective part in the results I collected.

With this in mind I would also think about redesigning my survey, asking questions with greater depth to gather more information rather than just baseline questions. This would in turn make the data I collect more recognisable to my research question. With an increase of information from participants on my survey I would be able to create a more effective guideline into what genres were more beneficial during certain activities or periods of the day.

Throughout the process of this research task, I have gained a greater understanding on how to respectfully acknowledge and approach the participants of my surveys through the analysis and the construction of the survey. The MIT guide for ‘The Lean Research Framework’, states that

‘Respectful research places the dignity and delight of the human subject at the center of the research experience…offers a clear, intelligible informed consent process, in which research subjects feel truly free to reject participation without fearing negative consequences.’

Taking this into consideration meant that I was to be cautious when constructing the survey, approaching the participants and when writing up the final results. In order to keep a respectful and professional stance between myself and the participants, I had to make sure that each participant had read the consent form, understanding what was to happen during the research process as well as what would be done with the results from it. I also had to ensure that within the final report all the identities of the participants was kept anonymous to ensure no emotional or mental harm was caused.

However, if no changes were made to my research topic or question my findings would still be limited to students who are studying a Communications and Media Degree at the University of Wollongong. If I wanted to create a guideline that was more universal I would have to conduct research on all university students in Australia to gain a more accurate account and understanding.


Although the data I analysed is inconclusive on the theory that music can affect student’s emotional wellbeing; it should be considered that different musical genres could affect your emotions and moods during different activities. The outcome I found was similar to what I had envisioned. Although there were a few surprises along the way within the responses, for the most part students at the University of Wollongong believe that music can have an affect on their emotions.



Arabin. A 2002, ‘Music during pregnancy’, Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology, vol. 20, no. 5, pp. 425-430

Atlas.ti Qualitative Data Analysis, 2002-2016, ‘Qualitative and Quantitative Research’, viewed 28 May 2016 <>

Juslin, PN & Västfjäll, D 2008 ‘Emotional responses to music: The need to consider underlying mechanisms’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, vol. 31, pp. 559-621

Moreno. EH, Leith. K & Wilson. K 2015, ‘The Lean Research Framework: Principles for Human-Centered Field Research’, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, viewed 1 June 2016 <>

Partanen. E, Kujala, T, Tervaniemi, M & Huotilainen, M 2013, ‘Prenatal Music Exposure Induces Long-term Neural Effects’, PLOS, viewed 28 May 2016 <>

Smart Survey 2016,’10 Advantages of Online Surveys’, viewed 28 May 2016 <>


Can Music Effect Our Emotions?



This project aims to identify student’s belief on whether music can/has an effect on our emotions, relating to specific genres. The goal of this project is to establish whether particular genres have a bigger impact on the emotions of students, whether it is while studying, at the gym or during free time. What I want to achieve through this research is a guide to which type of music would be best to listen to while studying, working out or with relaxing, activities where the most change of emotion can occur.

To gather the information to formulate a guide to music and mood I will be conducting surveys and possibly conduct some interviews to further examine emotional changes to music. My first method to start off the research process will be to create an online survey, using surveymonkey. My second method would be to conduct group interviews with a small number of participants to gage a deeper understanding with students as to whether they believe or feel music has effect their emotions. Both of these methods will be conducted in the confines of of the tutorial class room at the University of Wollongong.  In order to construct a successful survey there are a few tools and techniques that will need to considered. Harvard University: Program on Survey Research helped me when narrowing down the types of questions I should and shouldn’t be asking. The first tip was to not ask leading question, this could hinder any results, as these types of questions could be putting answers in the participants mouths and could be seen as an obstruction to my results as well as been seen a breach of misconduct. This can be avoided through the structure of my survey. Another tip is to use a variety of closed and opened ended questions. With this I will be able to gain quantifiable data, which is “particularly useful when trying to prove the statistical significance of a survey’s results” (Fluid Surveys, 2013). With open-ended questions, I will be able to gain opinions based upon my topic at a deeper level. Open-ended questions allow for further analysis that can lead into interviews as “critical thinking and uncut opinion of the respondent are perfect for gaining information” (Fluid Surveys, 2013). “If you have only a vague idea of what you’re trying to find out, your questions will be vague too and so will your answers” (Neal Whitman, 2012).

Consent For Research

Participants of my research will be volunteering their time and efforts to partake in my surveys and interviews. They will be advised that if they feel uncomfortable or wish to withdraw from the research task, they may do so at any given time with no questions asked. In addition with this each participant will remain anonymous by not disclosing any personal details within the survey or while in the presence of the interview, but instead will be referred to as participant X. Participants will also be told that the progress of the research and the final publication of the task will be published in a pubic wordpress site. If any participants have any questions during, after or before the research has begun, I shall be contacted either through my Twitter handle @BinaishaHaria or through the comments section of my wordpress site.

Survey Questions

Hello, my name is Binaisha Haria and I am an undergraduate at the University of Wollongong conducting research for my Communications and Media Degree. I am conducting this survey to identify the belief of students on the effects music has on our emotions. This survey consists of 10 questions that I will need you to fill out, your answer will remain anonymous and will be analysed on a statistical premise. If you wish to follow my research project you may follow the process on my wordpress blog and ask any question on my Twitter page @BinaishaHaria.

Q1) What do you so to change your mood?

Q2) Do you regularly listen to music?

  • Yes
  • No

Q3) What genre of music do you regularly listen to?

  • Pop
  • R&B
  • Hip-Hop
  • Indie
  • Jazz
  • Blues
  • Classical
  • Alternative
  • Reggae
  • Electronic/Dance
  • Other (please specify)

Q4) Why do you listen to the specific genre mentioned above more often?

Q5) Do you listen to music while studying?

  • Yes
  • No

Q6) Do you listen to music while working out?

  • Yes
  • No

Q7) What type of music do you listen to while studying?

Q8) What type of music do you listen to while working out?

Q9) Do you think music affects your mood/emotion?

Q10) Please explain your pervious answer.

Link to Survey:

Group Interview Questions

With the group interview I wish to only conduct a small amount of interviews, as I am on a tight schedule for completion. However, to ensure I get a good feel to for the discussion and opinions I will receive, I am planning on limiting the questions to only three. This would allow for participants to discuss ideas and personal stories and experiences. Though interview question may not be as direct or detailed, leading in a specific direction. However, the purpose of this would be to spark a discussion with the group.

  • Do you think music affects your mood/emotion?
  • Do you have an emotional connection with music?
  • Does this dictate the way you pick the music you listen to?

I believe that adding opinion into my research will help strength the comparison of secondary sources to gage a broad understanding if music really can effect our emotions.

Risk Planning

While preparing each stage of this research task there is a possibility for things to go wrong. When thinking about what issues I may encounter within this project, I have come to the conclusions that there are some risks that I will have to take extra caution with. To clearly understand and visually my risk planning I created a risk management table  to establish what areas would need more attention.

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Time Management

“Timelines are important in evaluating the feasibility of your project. Inexperienced researchers tend to underestimate the amount of time that the various stages of research will take” (Develop a Research Proposal). With a task this big there are different components that need to be completed at different times in order to complete this project on time. Each stage holds its own time frame; therefore to visually represent the tasks and time frame I have to complete this research project within each stage, I created a Gantt chart. This is a weekly timeline of when I should and will be meeting my goals.

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Research Progression

I have always been curious about music, wondering how it can change your perceptions of the world and of yourself so quickly. I have found that music reflected how I was feeling but also allowed me to change my mood depending on the beat or melody of the music I was listening to. Due to this I have become ever so curious of the implication music can have on the human brain, especially in the psychological effect music can have on the brain. How is it that music can alter your perceptions and emotions?

Having found the topic that most makes me feel curious. I moved onto the next stage to further fuel my curiosity but also create the research task I wish to see. This concept is better known as reflexivity, being in a position of understanding and wanting to know more. Within this frame of mind my first step was to create a plan of action that would further my research project. Having a position on the topic and a personal connection to music and emotion means that my judgment within this topic may be stronger than with any other topic.

Looking at my original question it became apparent I was unable to look into the inner working of the human brain and its altering perceptions music can cause on our emotions and attitude. Which meant my direction had to change to something more specific. Do students believe that music and specific genres can effect their emotions, if so why? This reduce any scientific arguments to be made during my person research, however, secondary sources that contain scientific research will be used to create a more rounded conclusion.

Once I had got to this point, I had to critically judge my secondary sources. This meant careful consideration had to be made when looking at the facts, arguments and statements made by secondary sources. Allowing that I had variation within my sources to know what was factual and what could be false. ‘Our critical judgment of academic, news and informal sources is informed by who we are, and what the information means to us’.

Along side critical judgment comes accountability, knowing that myself as a researcher I am accountable for any statements I made surrounding my research and participants. But, also acknowledging and analyzing the accountability of my secondary sources, being a cited or peer-reviewed source makes the accountability much more reliable. However, within my research I must be able to make critical judgment on the accountability of my sources. To ensure I have accountability within my research I must be able to ensure that my participants are in no means of danger, nor are they being misguided or lied to within the research process. To ensure this I will have to make sure ethical preparation has been conducted before allowing participants in to start the research process.

With all this in mind, my research wouldn’t do so well if I didn’t have respect or integrity. Respect is something that should come naturally when conducting any form of research but can be lost in some cases when participants are left with emotion to a hard or traumatic time. Respect in the case of research refers to “the relationship between researchers and research participants is the ground on which human research is conducted” (National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research, 2007). For this it is imperative that I set some boundaries as to know when to stop and also allow the participants to know that they are allowed to stop the research tasks at anytime. This will allow for no harm to come to the participants and also keep a level of respect. Integrity in this project as any other is critical. As a university student, I must make sure that all the academic resources I have used as well as participants answers have been cited. Without this my research could be seen as untrustworthy.

Communication Plan

In order to utilize each of the aspects that make up a good research task, I need to make sure that the participants in my research have a way to follow on the progress. The progression and final results will be published on my wordpress blog, for participants to view as well a wider audience of the public. This will create a discussion on whether people believe music can have an effect on our emotions, through my research with students as well as secondary research I find and analysis. Throughout the research process if participants need to stay in contact with me or have any questions or issues, they will be able to contact me through my Twitter handle @BinaishaHaria.


Bowles K 2016, Weeks 1-6, BCM210, University of Wollongong, viewed 19 April 2016

Esposito E 2015, Where Do You Find the Best Gantt Chart Spreadsheet Templates?, Smartsheet Blog, weblog post, 20 March, viewed 15 April 2016 <>

FluidSurveys Team 2013, How to Ensure Your Respondents’ Privacy, FluidSurveys University, viewed 15 April 2016 <>

Harrison C 2007, Harvard University Program on Survey Research, viewed 16 April 2016 <>

Office of Research Support 2003-2016, Guide to Writing Consent Forms and Oral Consent Scripts, Duke University, viewed 20 April 2016 <>

Whitman N 2012, How to Write Good Survey Questions,, viewed 15 April 2016 <>

N/A, Planning the Methodology – Timeline, Develop a Research Proposal, viewed 17 April 2016 <>

N/A 2014, Risk Assessment Template, tools4dev, viewed 21 April 2016 <>



To explore the emotional and attitudinal effects of music, in specific genres on students.


Music has played a major role in my life, helping me get through my darkest times by helping me feel my emotions and changing my perception on the world. I have always found that music reflected how I was feeling but also allowed me to change my mood depending on the beat or melody of the music I was listening to. Due to this I have become ever so curious of the implication music can have on the human brain. The psychological effect music can have on the brain is something that has also been on my mind. How is it that music can alter your perceptions and emotions?

As I am very fond of music and have found that it has a significant effect on my behvaiour and my perceptions towards others and in particular situations. I want to be able to go deeper into the human mind and find out why this may happen and if there are particular genres that effect people more than others. In turn, perhaps creating a guide of what is the best music to listen to then you are waking up, ready to start your day or when you need motivation.

The spark of interest for this particular topic, came to me after reading an article written by Mark Changizi (2009) ‘Why Does Music Make Us Feel?’. It was here that I came across a study conducted by Nidhya Logeswaran and Joydeep Bhattacharya from the University of London. In which they explored the effect music had on visual image. Their results found that ‘musical stimuli can systematically influence the perceived emotional content in target visual stimuli’ (Logeswaran and Bhattacharya, 2008). The results had me questioning, if music could affect visual images, could it not effect attitudinal perceptions of different people?

However, after gathering different studies I came across Juslin and Västfjäll’s paper ‘Emotional responses to music: The need to consider underlying mechanisms’. It is here where they argue that music can’t actually induce emotion but is a ‘sensory or cognitive process that does not necessarily say anything about what the listener, himself or herself, is feeling’ (Juslin and Västfjäll, 2008). They state that to truly get an answer to the question if you can have emotional responses towards music, you have to establish how emotion is defined. They also present cases where studies have proven that music can be just as effective as other emotion-elicitation techniques.

Therefore, for my research project, I have decided to look into the effects music has on our emotional responses. Asking questions, such as, can music change our attitudinal perceptions and responses? Can music change our mood and mind set? I want to explore how we react when we hear a particular song at different times of the day, with a particular beat or harmony, and how this in turn can effect our perceptions towards other and other everyday situations. Thus giving us an insight into the psychological developments and changes to the human brain.

In order to collect the relevant information, I intend to assemble my findings by using already published results and conducting my own research by using surveys. With the surveys I want to create a base line to see who listens to music when they are feeling sad or happy and who listens to music to change their mood or feels that music has changed their mood on numerous occasions. I would also establish what type of genre they listen to and ask for particular songs and cross-reference them to research that has already been conducted. With this in order I will perform a data analysis (quantitative data) as to uncover which particular genres are more popular to lift spirits or improve attitudes. To expand on this further I will add exploratory questions to my survey, as to discover a deeper reasoning as to why students may believe that music is helping their emotions and attitudes to change.

I want this research to uncover the workings of the human brain, thus expanding our knowledge of what we already know and what we’ve always wanted to know. I want to value the unexpected and establish an understanding of the power of music on our minds as well as our emotions. I want to be able to put forward a new appreciation for music.


Changizi, M 2009, ‘Why Does Music Make Us Feel?’, Scientific American, weblog post, 15 September, viewed 23 March 2016 <>

Juslin, PN & Västfjäll, D 2008 ‘Emotional responses to music: The need to consider underlying mechanisms’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, vol. 31, pp. 559-621

Logeswaran, N & Bhattacharya, J 2008 ‘Crossmodal transfer of emotion by music’, Neuroscience Letters, vol. 455, pp. 129-133