Modeling Musical Tension

  Mary Farbood

The concept of musical tension is a complex phenomenon that is evident to listeners yet hard to describe formally. In qualitative terms, an increase in tension can be described as a feeling of building excitement or impending climax, or an increase in uncertainty, while decreasing tension can be described as a feeling of relaxation, resolution, or fulfillment. The goal of this work is the implementation of a quantitative, parametric model for describing musical tension. The model is based completely on empirical data and takes into account multiple, disparate musical features including melodic contour, harmony, onset frequency, tempo variations, rhythmic regularity, and dynamics.

mary 'at' media 'dot' mit 'dot' edu