The Effect of Titles on the Music Listening Experience

“Music is an interaction between sound and listener,” avers Cook (10), yet such an interaction is rarely unmediated. Attend any classical concert and you will likely be handed a book of program notes, a purported guide to the abstract sound experience called ‘music’. Yet, research shows that the guidance which program notes provide is not always beneficial to the listener’s experience. This study questions whether, in lieu of program notes, an elaborative title can provide enough interpretative information to enhance the listening experience.

Forty-eight adults were asked to listen to selected music excerpts and report their aesthetic experience. The titles for each excerpt were manipulated to be either nondescript, formal-analytical, or elaborative on the composer’s intended interpretation of the piece. Although results showed no effect of title on the aesthetic experience of music, this lack of effect may be due to the participants’ previous exposure to and interest in classical music, or to their inherent listening strategies.

In order to contextualize the study, this article will begin with a brief overview of previous literature on guided music listening. Similar research in the field of visual arts will also be consulted as to the effect of titles on the aesthetic experience. Following the literature review will be a brief description of the experiment procedure and a selective report of the results, including analysis. Finally, the article will conclude with some points of discussion.


Literature Review

Programmatic meaning

Music is experienced as more than just sounds, but as imagery, movement, force, emotions, and characters (Zbikowski 65). Such extrinsic associations sometimes inspire composers to create a programmed meaning for the music. The aptly named ‘program music’ was often accompanied with notes explaining the intended interpretation of the piece; notable works include Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony and Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique. The stories in such program music are typically compelling and recognizable above chance, even for children (Trainor and Trehub 464). However, the objectivity of programmatic meaning for music is dubious at best; even when given the programmatic meaning, listeners may not choose to associate the music with it (Antović, Stamenković, and Figar 247).


Program notes

Many contemporary composers utilize program notes, not necessarily to interpret their work as in the case of programmatic compositions, but also to guide the listener through novel music (Blom, Bennett, and Stevenson 7). However, research on the use of program notes yields conflicting findings. A study by Margulis found that participants enjoy music best when prefaced with no program notes (295). The program notes used in this study, however, were only descriptions of the music and did not provide any historical or critical information. In a successive study (Margulis, Kisida, and Greene), 506 children were brought to a live concert and given one of two program notes: one of background information about the music and performers, and one of information about the concert venue. Children were later asked to report on their understanding of the music and their enjoyment of the concert. Although the music-related program notes improved comprehension and retention of the information, there was little effect of program notes on enjoyment (601). Therefore, although composers and musicians mean well when they construct program notes, the provided information may not positively affect the audience’s enjoyment.

Further complicating the efficacy of program notes are subjectivities — e.g., the listener’s musical expertise and preferences — which moderate the listening situation. In a study by Bennett and Ginsborg, twenty-nine participants watched a live musical performance, first without program notes and then with program notes; for each performance they were asked to interpret the music. Results suggest that while program notes influenced how participants listened to and interpreted music, only 39% of the participants deemed this effect positive (Bennett and Ginsborg 599). Furthermore, the participants who reported a more extensive musical background were also more likely to reject programmatic guidance (600). This may be because the program note’s interpretation confined the listener’s interpretation — a constriction which a more experienced listener might disdain.

By guiding the listener with a pre-set interpretation, program notes make the music listening experience an analytical one, catering to a limited subset of listeners. Not everyone listens to music analytically, and listening typologies exist far and wide throughout music research. A useful review by Kemp consolidates listening typologies onto three binary axes: analytical vs. holistic listening, objective vs. associative listening, and finally, syntactic vs. non-syntactic listening (Kemp 132). The present research is based on a typology of three listening strategies: associative, affective, and objective listening (Hargreaves and Colman 16-17). The first of these, associative, is a type of listening in which musical sounds are paired with extra-musical references, as in the case of programmatic music. Affective listening focuses on the emotive qualities of the music, while objective listening focuses on musical elements and context. Research suggests that one’s previous listening history and musical training may influence one’s listening strategy (Hargreaves and Colman 19; North and Hargreaves 123).

Program notes might not be for everyone, considering the personality traits of some and the listening strategies of others. To use program notes is to wield a “double-edged sword” (Blom, Bennett, and Ginsborg 7), providing useful information at the risk of overriding the listener’s own interpretation (Micznik 214). Paragraphs of insight may preclude the listener to construct his or her own meaning; however, a single phrase, like a title, might be just enough to pique interest. Yet, the role of titles on the interpretation and enjoyment of music has been mostly overlooked by previous research.



Research on titles is more prevalent in the field of visual arts, wherein a title alone may suffice as an interpretative guide for particular artworks. A study by Franklin, Becklen, and Doyle measured the ‘looking time’ at two paintings by having participants point at and narrate what they were thinking as they looked at the artwork. The differences in title influenced both the looking time and the responses for the same artworks across participants (108).

Titled artwork was reportedly better understood than untitled artwork in a study by Leder, Carbon, and Ripsas. Titles in this study were also cross-examined with looking time; a shorter looking time correlated with increased enjoyment while a longer looking time correlated with increased understanding (185). Although titles increased understanding, they did not seem to affect appreciation (190). Similarly, in a study by Russell, artwork that was presented with titles and evaluative information was perceived as more meaningful, and thereby more pleasing, when examined within each participant’s response (104).

The type of title, just like the type of program note, might affect aesthetic experience differently. In a study by Millis, participants viewed artwork under different title conditions: Absent (in which there was no title), Descriptive (in which the title merely described the depiction), and Elaborative (in which the title subtly elaborated on the artwork’s meaning). Participants in the Elaborative title condition self-reported higher ratings of interest, enjoyment, and aesthetic experience than those in the Descriptive title condition, coining Millis’ “elaboration effect.” (324) Whether this elaboration effect similarly applies to a musical context has, as of yet, not been fully explored.


The present study

This review suggests that an interpretative, elaborative title, in lieu of analytical program notes, may enhance the aesthetic experience of music. The present study has two objectives: to establish any effect of an elaborative title on a listener’s aesthetic experience — measured in self-reported ratings of enjoyment, interest, and affect; and secondly, to determine any effect of an elaborative title on a listener’s discourse about the music — measured through free-description responses. In anticipation of an “elaboration effect,” the experimental hypothesis expects higher ratings of affect, interest, and enjoyment for music that is presented with an elaborative title as opposed to music presented with a descriptive (formal) or absent title. This effect may also engender thematic and typological differences in the listening experience as evident in the free description responses.



Fifty-two adults participated in the study. The responses of four participants were excluded because of an experimenter’s error. Of the remaining forty-eight participants, twenty-five (52.1%) were female, twenty-two (45.8%) were male, and one (2.1%) reported gender as “other.” Although exact age was not measured, participants indicated their age bracket; the median age fell in the 26-35 years old age bracket. Participants were primarily recruited in-person. Additional participants were contacted virtually to complete an online version of the experiment. In total, forty-three participants completed the study in-person while five completed it online. While none of the participants were musicians, the majority of participants (70%) reported having had less than one year of classical music training.

When asked about classical music listening habits — either through live performance or digital recordings — 44% of participants reported listening to classical music either occasionally (“monthly or whenever I’m in the mood”) or regularly (“daily, or whenever I have the chance”). The most common response — 48% of the time — was that classical music was rarely listened to, or “only when obligatory.” Only four participants reported never listening to classical music; others may have been hugging the middle of the scale out of politeness.



The stimuli consisted of twelve classical music excerpts spanning the Romantic and Modern eras (c. 1860 – 1960). Excerpts were mp3s clipped to include a few seconds of fade, with the shortest excerpt at 48 seconds and the longest at 69 seconds. Each piece was selected for its relative obscurity to non-musicians and for its evocative, programmatic title, such as “The Old Castle” from Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky. The original title for each excerpt thus became the elaborative title condition. Two alternative titles per excerpt were then fabricated by the researcher and validated by two professional musicians as being appropriate formal and absent title alternatives. Formal titles simply relayed the form and tempo of the music, such as “Symphonic Suite in F Major: Quickly,” while absent titles were placeholders, such as “Opus 50.” A full list of the excerpts, along with their alternative titles, can be found in table 1 in the Appendix.

Participants were divided into eleven testing groups and further subdivided into three participant groups. Excerpt order was randomised for each testing group using, an online sequence generator. A unique title list was made for each participant group, accounting for the three title alternatives among the twelve excerpts. Within each participant group, the title list was generated pseudo-randomly such that each participant received an equal number of four elaborative (original) titles, four formal titles, and four absent titles. The experiment sessions were conducted both in public and private locations, chosen primarily for convenience for each participant and secondarily for minimal distractions. In-person participants heard the excerpts through a portable Bose loudspeaker.



Upon arrival, participants were asked to read the information sheet and complete the accompanying consent form. They were then given their response packet, consisting of twelve identical response sheets and one demographics questionnaire. Participants were instructed to listen to the music and respond to the following question on their sheet: “What, if anything, does the music bring to mind?” Responses were recorded on several blank lines beneath the question. Four ratings scales followed, utilizing a six-point Likert scale to measure familiarity (“How familiar was the excerpt to you?”), affect (“How ‘moving’ did you find the excerpt?”), interest (“How interesting did you find the excerpt?”), and enjoyment (“How much did you enjoy the excerpt?”).

Blind to the title discrepancy, participants copied the title of each excerpt — as indicated on their title list — into the response sheet whilst the experiment progressed, ensuring that all participants read and processed the title they had been given. Each excerpt was presented verbally in numerical order: e.g., “Excerpt number one.” Most participants began writing within fifteen seconds after the music began, while some waited until the end of the excerpt. On average, the procedure lasted thirty-five minutes.



By Title Condition

The means and standard deviations[1] for each excerpt by title condition are displayed in table 2 in the Appendix. While the values appear to be different for each condition, further testing was needed in order to determine whether such differences were statistically significant or merely incidental. Therefore, the data underwent a Kruskal-Wallis H test, revealing no significant effect[2] of title condition: for familiarity [H(2) = 1.282, p = .527], affect [H(2) = .439, p = .803], interest [H(2) = .560, p = .756], or enjoyment [H(2) = .182, p = .913]. Thus, the title condition had no significant effect on the data.


By Genre

As mentioned in the Materials section, the twelve excerpts differed categorically by genre, with six Romantic and six Modern excerpts. Romantic music received higher mean ratings than Modern music on all four parameters of familiarity, affect, interest, and enjoyment. The means and standard deviations for ratings by genre are displayed in Table 1 below.


Table 1: Means and standard deviations for each rating by genre

Familiarity Affect Interest Enjoyment
Romantic m = 1.035; sd = 1.455 m = 3.247; sd = 1.082 m = 3.503; sd = 1.117 m = 3.571; sd = 1.097
Modern m = .699; sd = 1.171 m = 2.852; sd =  1.327 m = 3.138; sd = 1.289 m = 2.911; sd = 1.3425

Evident in the table, the means for each rating differ by genre. Another Kruskal-Wallis H test verified these differences, suggesting a significant effect of genre on ratings of familiarity [H(1) = 6.806, p = .009], affect [H(1) = 5.619, p = .018], interest [H(1) = 6.427, p = .011], and enjoyment [H(1) = 23.104, p = .00]. Therefore, genre had a much stronger, significant effect on the ratings than did the title condition. In order to analyse whether there was any interacting effect of genre with the title condition (e.g., whether an elaborative title had more of an effect within the Modern subset of excerpts, but not within the Romantic subset), an Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) test was run. Such an effect was found to be insignificant in all four ratings of familiarity [F(2) = .162, p = .851], affect [F(2) = .358, p = .700], interest [F(2) = .344, p = .709], and enjoyment [F(2) = .865, p = .422]. Thus, the title condition fails to show any significant effect on the ratings data once more.


By Novice

For further analysis, the pool of participants was then divided based on their reported level of classical music training and listening habits. Those who reported a 0 or 1 on music training (i.e., less than one year’s worth) and a 0 or 1 on listening frequency (i.e., rarely or never listening to classical music) were coded as ‘novices.’ Novices typically gave lower ratings for affect, interest, and enjoyment than non-novices. See table 2 for the means and standard deviations of each ratings scale by novice and non-novice participants.


Table 2: Means and standard deviations for each rating by novice

Familiarity Affect Interest Enjoyment
Novice m = .779; sd = 1.202 m = 2.858; sd = 1.3369 m = 3.008; sd = 1.2708 m = 3.115; sd = 1.2628
Non-Novice m = .930; sd = 1.4138 m = 3.187; sd = 1.1215 m = 3.545; sd = 1.1305 m = 3.333; sd = 1.2664


Another Kruskal-Wallis H test was run on the data, revealing a significant effect of ‘novice-ness’ on the ratings for affect [H(1) = 7.428, p = .006], interest [H(1) = 26.520, p = .000], and enjoyment [H(1) = 4.164, p = .041], but not for familiarity [H(1) = 1.078, p = .299]. Therefore, the ratings from non-novice participants for affect, interest, and enjoyment are significantly higher than those from novice participants.

The data were then considered for any interaction between genre and novice factors (i.e., whether novices were more likely to give high ratings for music from a particular genre). The means and standard deviations of the ratings, by novice and by genre, are displayed in table 3.


Table 3: Means and standard deviations by Novice and by Genre

Familiarity Affect Interest Enjoyment
   Romantic m = .833; sd = 1.2921 m = 3.033; sd = 1.1735 m = 3.133; sd = 1.2362 m = 3.375; sd = 1.1527
   Modern m = .725; sd = 1.1074 m = 2.683; sd = 1.4666 m = 2.883; sd = 1.2976 m = 2.854; sd = 1.3179



   Romantic m = 1.179; sd = 1.5489 m = 3.399; sd = .9873  m = 3.768; sd = .9412 m = 3.711; sd = 1.0360
   Modern m = .680; sd = 1.2176 m = 2.973; sd = 1.2077 m = 3.320; sd = 1.2566 m = 2.952; sd = 1.3624

Modern music was rated lower than Romantic music on all four parameters by both novices and non-novices. This effect was significant among novices only for enjoyment [H(1) = 8.892, p = .003], and not for familiarity [H(1) = .152, p = .697], affect [H(1) = 2.581, p = .108], or interest [H(1) = 1.966, p = .161]. In contrast, this genre bias was significant among non-novices for all parameters: familiarity [H(1) = 11.603, p = .001], affect [H(1) = 10.701, p = .001], interest [H(1) = 10.378, p = .001], and enjoyment [H(1) = 27.337, p = .00]. These results suggest that novices enjoyed Romantic music more than Modern music, yet felt indifferently on the other parameters, while non-novices rated Romantic music higher than Modern music on all parameters.


Qualitative responses

Participants responded to the open-ended question, “What, if anything, does the music bring to mind?”, 98.3% of the time. Participants were instructed to leave the page blank if nothing came to mind; therefore, it is safe to assume that the scant instances of no response were intentional.

The responses were coded with two methods. The first method utilised thematic analysis, wherein a theme comprised any two or more semantically similar responses. Multi-thematic responses were divided into response segments and coded multiple times. The second method of analysis was a classification of listening type into one of the following three categories: associative, affective, or objective, as adapted from the aforementioned study by Hargreaves and Colman. Each category is defined as follows:

  • Associative: respondents associate sounds with extra-musical concepts, especially imagery, such as “Roaring ocean with fish and sea creatures swimming side by side” [P# 36 – Rimsky-Korsakov][3].
  • Affective: responses included affective descriptions, such as “Beautiful” [multiple instances], and how the music made the participant feel, or how the participant perceived the music to be ‘feeling,’: respectively, “bringing me anxiety but in a wierd [sic] beautiful way” [P# 6.1 – Ives], and “This feels like a dreamy music” [P# 6 – Debussy]. Further classification of affective listening was aided by the list of musical emotions and affects compiled by Zentner, Grandjean, and Scherer.
  • Objective: responses are objectively evaluative, often in regards to the music’s technical quality, such as “The trumpets sounded out of tune, squeaky” [P# 43 – Stravinsky].

Responses which included multiple types of listening were segmented and coded twice.

Considering the lack of an effect of title condition on all twelve excerpts as demonstrated in the ratings, only four excerpts — Rimsky-Korsakov, Ives, Stravinsky, and Debussy — were used for qualitative analysis. The results of the Stravinsky excerpt will be further expounded below, to demonstrate the methods of analysis and provide insight into the participant’s responses.

For the Stravinsky excerpt, the responses of forty-eight participants yielded 137 response segments, with eleven left unclassified. Twenty-eight themes emerged, with participants from all conditions using the majority of the themes. See figure 1 for a word cloud of each theme in proportion to its prevalence in the data.

The themes relevant to the title, The Soldier’s March, were labeled Military and March/procession, accounting for 21% of the response segments. The Military theme was mentioned eleven times, eight by respondents in the elaborative title condition, and three by respondents in the absent title condition. Thus, the ‘military’ meaning in the music was not so inherent as to garner responses cross-conditionally. However, the March/procession theme was far more pervasive, evident in eighteen responses — the most prevalent theme for this excerpt. See table 4 below for more examples from the top five themes and see table 3 in the Appendix for a list of all twenty-eight themes and their occurrence cross-conditionally.


Table 4: Examples of responses using the top five themes

March/procession “I can imagine like an army marching to this piece in a movie” [P# 30]
“A family of duck trotting along, the little ones trying to keep up, toppling over” [P# 42]
Joy “Fat and happy” [P# 14]
“Horses and riders marching merrily off to war” [P# 45]
Military “Cartoon pigs in military uniform”  [P# 39]
“Light-hearted march, not into battle, but more like a training exercise” [P# 22]
Royalty “This reminds me of a scene where an announcement is being made by a King in his castle” [P# 11]
“A gathering of dignitaries” [P# 8]
Instruments “Not crazy with the string part” [P# 18]
“Love hearing all the different instruments” [P# 25]


There were two main theme clusters: the first, CEREMONY, included March/procession, Royalty, Military, Celebration, and Crowd, encompassing forty-six separate response segments. The second theme cluster, POSITIVE EMOTIONS, included thirty-one response segments in Fun, Playful, Energy, Joy, and Triumph themes. The Humour theme was not included in this cluster because some responses did not necessarily imply positive humour.

Interpretative analysis of the Stravinsky excerpt transformed all forty-eight responses into seventy response segments. See table 5 below for a distribution of listening type by condition.


Table 5: Listening type by condition

Associative Affective Objective
Elaborative title condition 12 7 5
Formal title condition 10 7 4
Absent title condition 13 8 2

Associative listening is demonstrated by many of the examples already listed, and by the following: “City street with the hustle and bustle of people and car [sic] and trucks going this way and that way with lights flashing and lots of movement” [P# 13], and “A day in the courtyard at a royal residence (as an outsider). Welcoming exploration” [P# 17]. Examples of affective listening, of similar frequency across condition, are the following: “Light hearted mischief” [P# 48] and “Made me smile at first. Sounds like a fun song.” [P# 4]. Examples of objective listening, many of which correlated with the Instruments theme, include the following: “Staccato…Musical theatery [sic]. Lots of individual instruments” [P# 21].

Because thematic and interpretative analyses can be quite subjective, the responses to the Stravinsky excerpt were coded for interrater reliability. Two raters coded the raw data for listening type and matched on 556 words out of 620, representing very high (89.7%) agreement.


Within-subjects Analysis

Each participant’s response packet was examined for any change in listening type; responses for each excerpt were compared to responses for other excerpts in the same condition. There was no perceivable effect of title condition on associative listening within-subjects. One participant consciously relied on the title, admitting that “Knowing the title helped me to appreciate it more” [P# 15 – Britten]. However, this evidence is much too exiguous to support the hypothesis that an elaborative title would prime participants to listen associatively. Two other participants seemed to listen associatively more as the experiment progressed, unrelated to the condition. Perhaps it took a couple of listens for them to focus on the sound and come up with something imaginative. However, this progression was irrespective of their title condition and does not support the hypothesis.



Overall, the data indicates no effect of titles on the aesthetic experience of music. There was no effect of Title Condition on the participants’ enjoyment of, interest in, or affect for the music listening experience. The free response data suggest no effect of title condition on listening type; associative listening was a frequent type of listening response regardless of the title. Moreover, there was no effect of title condition within each subject’s response data. Those who gave associative responses tended to do so for the majority of the excerpts and not simply for those which had elaborative titles.

Such a null effect may be due to the participants’ prior exposure to classical music. Although musicians were not recruited, most of the non-musician participants in this study had been well acquainted with classical music. Notably, the Film theme was common in all excerpts, reflecting the prevalence of classical music — particularly Romantic classical music — in movies and commercials. While the music was mostly unfamiliar to the participants titularly, the genre of music — and the feelings and associations it engenders — was clearly familiar to the participants idiomatically. To account for this widespread idiomatic familiarity, further research on the effect of titles should utilize music of a completely unfamiliar idiom (such as music of non-western cultures), or participants uninitiate with western classical music (such as very young children or adults from remote, non-western cultures).

A participant’s background and interest in classical music may also influence the baseline results for each subset of participants, regardless of title condition. For instance, in this study, novices rated Romantic music over Modern music only in regard to enjoyment, but not for interest or affect. In contrast, non-novices rated Romantic music over Modern music for all parameters. This difference between subsets may reflect the participants’ baseline interest in classical music. The novices seldom willingly listen to classical music — likely out of a lack of interest. They might not find Romantic music any more interesting than Modern music, accounting for the null difference in ratings between the two genres. Unexpectedly, the title condition did not improve interest, and only a difference in genre affected enjoyment. This lack of an “elaboration effect,” particularly among novices towards Modern music, is especially surprising.

The thematic analysis adds little to the discussion. Elaborative titles preceded the music 44% of the time; however, themes which directly related to the titles accounted for, on average, only 12% of the responses. Moreover, participants without the original title often alluded to title themes, owing to the composer’s deft use of musical techniques to convey the programmatic meaning extra-linguistically. Thus, it seems that, regardless of title, participants came up with a wide variety of themes. A lifetime of associating extrinsic meaning to music likely contributes to a participant’s relative ease in doing so without an elaborative title. Similarly, among participants who rarely listened associatively, the title did not alter the way they engaged with music nor elaborated extrinsic meaning to them.

The interpretative analysis shows a high prevalence of associative and affective listening by all participants. This may reflect not only the instructions for the listening task, but also the tendency for non-musicians to adopt a referential listening style (Smith 388). It would be worthwhile to replicate this study using music experts and music novices to demonstrate this tendency more robustly. There might be a stronger disregard for title condition among music novices and a higher prevalence of objective listening style among music experts, per the study by Hargreaves and Colman (19).

Another uncontrolled variable may lie in different personality tendencies for certain listening strategies (Lewis and Schmidt 318). Those who score highly with analytical personality traits will be more likely to enjoy a cognitive approach to music listening (Hedden, 235), such as the task for this study. A replication of this study should integrate a personality assessment in order to observe any interaction of title condition and personality on listening response.



The present study implies that title information, and thereby program notes, cannot secure an engaged audience. An elaborative title might not change a person’s listening style or affect their interest in the genre of music. This starkly contrasts the results of the art studies — where titles brought about an “elaboration effect” (Millis 324), served as interpretative guides (Franklin, Becklen, and Doyle 108), and helped increase understanding (Leder, Carbon, and Ripsas 192). Clearly, music and art benefit from different types of guidance. Elaborative titles may prove more effective when paired with music more obscure than what was presented in this experiment. Moreover, if the participants’ latent personality proclivities and previous music experience are better controlled for, a more robust “elaboration effect” might become possible. Overall, while this study does not deny the possibility for such an effect, it does not confirm its existence either. Further research is needed.

Music is more than mere sounds, and it is more than a simple interaction between sound and listener. An aesthetic experience of music is foremost a personal one, and as such, one that will likely remain difficult to define and to contrive. Research in music aesthetics should continue to consider the phenomenon of musical meaning within the humble context of everyday life.


Works Cited

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Table 1: List of excerpts with alternative titles

Excerpt Elaborative title Formal title Absent title
Out of Doors: IV. The Chase (1926) by Bela Bartok Out of Doors: The Chase Sonata for Piano: Fast Movement Sz. 81
Peter Grimes: IV. The Storm (1945) by Benjamin Britten The Storm Orchestral Interlude: Rapidly Untitled
In a Landscape (1948) by John Cage In a Landscape Nocturne in D minor for Solo Piano Study no. 8
Children’s Corner: The Snow is Dancing (1908) by Claude Debussy The Snow is Dancing Suite in F Major for Solo Piano: IV. Moderately Opus 50
Central Park in the Dark (1906) by Charles Ives Central Park in the Dark Pseudo-Rhapsody for Orchestra 6a
Atmospheres (1961) by Gyorgi Ligeti Atmospheres Sound Mass No. 1
Un Sospiro (1849) by Franz Liszt (1849) Un Sospiro (A Sigh) Concert Etude No. 3 in D flat Major S. 144
Pictures at an Exhibition: IX. Ballet of Unhatched Chicks (1874) by Modest Mussorgsky Ballet of Unhatched Chicks Symphonic Suite in F Major: Quickly Mvt. 9
Pictures at an Exhibition: IV. The Old Castle (1874) by Modest Mussorgsky The Old Castle Dirge in G# minor Mvt. 4
Scheherezade: I. The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship (1888) by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship Symphonic Suite in E minor: I. Steadily Opus 35
Histoire du Soldat: I. The Soldier’s March (1920) by Igor Stravinsky The Soldier’s March Music for Chamber Orchestra: I. Moderately No. 5


Table 2: Means and standard deviations of each rating by excerpt and by condition:


Condition Familiarity Affect Interest Enjoyment
Elaborative m = .5; sd = .9459 m = 2.6; sd = .9947 m = 3.35; sd = 1.1367 3 = 3.125; sd = .8867
Formal m = .5; sd = 1.0919 m = 2.429; sd = 1.5046 m = 3.0; sd = 1.3009 m = 2.286; sd = 1.1387
Absent m = .5; sd = .7596 m = 2.714; sd = 1.2855 m = 3.071; sd = 1.4899 m = 2.357; sd = 1.3927



Condition Familiarity Affect Interest Enjoyment
Elaborative m = 1.133; sd = 1.4573 m = 3.2; sd = 1.0142 m = 3.467; sd = 1.2459 m = 3.067; sd = 1.2799
Formal m = 1.067; sd = 1.3345 m = 3.333; sd = 1.1751 m = 3.533; sd = 1.1255 m = 3.4; sd = 1.2984
Absent m = 1.118; sd = 1.6156 m = 3.471; sd = 1.1789 m = 3.529; sd = 1.2307 m = 3.412; sd = 1.1213



Condition Familiarity Affect Interest Enjoyment
Elaborative m = .684; sd = 1.0569 m = 3.316; sd = .9459 m = 3.474; sd = 1.0733 m = 3.526; sd = 1.0733
Formal m = .583; sd = .6686 m = 3.083; sd = 1.2401 m = 3.5; sd = 1.2432 m = 3.667; sd = 1.3027
Absent m = .529; sd = .8745 m = 2.941; sd = 1.7128 m = 2.882; sd = 1.5765 m = 3.029; sd = 1.6438



Condition Familiarity Affect Interest Enjoyment
Elaborative m = .529; sd = .7998 m = 2.824; sd = .9510 m = 3.059; sd = 1.2976 m = 3.176; sd = .8828
Formal m = 1.308; sd = 1.6525 m = 3.423; sd = .9541 m = 3.462; sd = 1.3914 m = 3.769; sd = 1.0919
Absent m = .667; sd = 1.0290 m = 2.722; sd = 1.2274 m = 3.0; sd = 1.1882 m = 3.444; sd = 1.2935



Condition Familiarity Affect Interest Enjoyment
Elaborative m = .941; sd = 1.5195 m = 2.765; sd = 1.2005 m = 3.353; sd = 1.3201 m = 3.0; sd = 1.3229
Formal m = .625; sd = 1.0247 m = 2.438; sd = 1.5478 m = 2.938; sd = 1.0626 m = 2.688; sd = 1.1383
Absent m = .267; sd = .5936 m = 2.633; sd = 1.7573 m = 2.4; sd = 1.6388 m = 2.667; sd = 1.3889



Condition Familiarity Affect Interest Enjoyment
Elaborative m = .211; sd = .7133 m = 2.789; sd = 1.2727 m = 2.842; sd = 1.1187 m = 2.526; sd = 1.5044
Formal m = .882; sd = 1.6912 m = 2.941; sd = 1.4778 m = 3.353; sd = 1.1147 m = 2.882; sd = 1.269
Absent m = .708; sd = .8649 m = 2.750; sd = 1.5448 m = 2.833; sd = 1.4668 m = 2.25; sd = 1.4222



Condition Familiarity Affect Interest Enjoyment
Elaborative m = 1.056; sd = 1.2113 m = 4.056; sd = .8024 m = 4.222; sd = .8085 m = 4.278; sd = .8264
Formal m = 1.0; sd = 1.2403 m = 3.143; sd = 1.2315 m = 3.214; sd = 1.2514 m = 3.643; sd = 1.0082
Absent m = 1.250; sd = 1.9149 m = 3.688; sd = 1.1383 m = 3.563; sd = 1.2633 m = 3.938; sd = 1.2366


Mussorgsky – Ballet:

Condition Familiarity Affect Interest Enjoyment
Elaborative m = .353; sd = .8618 m = 3.235; sd = .8314 m = 3.353; sd = .8618 m = 3.353; sd = .8618
Formal m = 1.059; sd = 1.6760 m = 3.941; sd = 1.0290 m = 3.882; sd = .9275 m = 3.559; sd = 1.1974
Absent m = 2.143; sd = 1.7033 m = 3.429; sd = .9376 m = 3.5; sd = .9405 m = 3.643; sd = .8419


Mussorgsky – Castle:

Condition Familiarity Affect Interest Enjoyment
Elaborative m = .733; sd = 1.2799 m = 2.733; sd = .7988 m = 3.067; sd = 1.2799 m = 3.0; sd = 1.0690
Formal m = .375; sd = .6191 m = 2.750; sd = 1.3416 m = 3.250; sd = 1.4376 m = 3.188; sd = 1.3276
Absent m = 1.412; sd = 1.6977 m = 3.0; sd = 1.1180 m = 3.529; sd = .9432 m = 3.412; sd = 1.0037



Condition Familiarity Affect Interest Enjoyment
Elaborative m = 1.765; sd = 1.8884 m = 3.294; sd = 1.1048 m = 3.765; sd = .9034 m = 3.588; sd = 1.1757
Formal m = 1.400; sd = 1.5946 m = 3.533; sd = .6399 m = 3.933; sd = .5936 m = 4.067; sd = .7037
Absent m = 1.000; sd = 1.4142 m = 3.125; sd = 1.2583 m = 3.563; sd = 1.1529 m = 3.438; sd = 1.3150



Condition Familiarity Affect Interest Enjoyment
Elaborative m = 1.214; sd = 1.5777 m = 3.393; sd = .8810 m = 3.643; sd = 1.0082 m = 3.857; sd = 1.1673
Formal m = 1.000; sd = 1.5635 m = 2.842; sd = 1.2140 m = 3.211; sd = 1.2727 m = 3.211; sd = 1.2727
Absent m = .600; sd = 1.1832 m = 3.400; sd = .7368 m = 3.867; sd = .8338 m = 3.867; sd .6399



Condition Familiarity Affect Interest Enjoyment
Elaborative m = .706; sd = 1.4038 m = 2.647; sd = 1.3201 m = 2.912; sd = 1.3720 m = 3.029; sd = 1.3284
Formal m = .438; sd = .8139 m = 2.375; sd = 1.0878 m = 2.750; sd = 1.0646 m = 2.500; sd = 1.2649
Absent m = 1.267; sd = 1.4864 m = 2.867; sd = 1.3020 m = 3.200; sd = 1.4243 m = 3.133; sd = 1.4573


Table 3: Distribution of themes by condition for the Stravinsky excerpt:

Theme Elaborative Title Formal Title Absent Title Total
Band 1 1 0 2
Bright 0 1 1 2
Busy 1 1 0 2
Celebration 0 0 2 2
Color 1 0 1 2
TV 1 1 0 2
Fun 2 0 0 2
Journey 0 2 0 2
Story 2 0 0 2
Street 0 1 1 2
Whimsy 1 1 0 2
Adventure 1 1 1 3
Enjoyment 2 1 0 3
Announcement 1 1 1 3
Mischief 1 1 1 3
Crowd 0 2 2 4
Dance 0 0 4 4
Playful 2 0 3 5
Energy 1 3 1 5
Humor 4 1 1 6
Triumph 1 3 2 6
Animals 1 4 2 7
Instruments 3 3 3 9
Joy 2 1 7 10
Military 7 0 3 10
Royalty 5 4 2 11
March 5 5 8 18

[1] The mean, represented with ‘m,’ indicates the average rating across all participants within the given title condition. The standard deviation, represented with ‘sd,’ indicates the average spread, or deviation, of the data from the mean.

[2] For tests of significance, here and throughout the Results, a p-value of <.05 indicates a significant effect.

[3] Here and elsewhere in the Results, the brackets contain the quoted participant’s (‘P’) identification number, followed by the excerpt for which he or she made the particular comment.