Psychology, Emotion, and Jazz: Cognitive Music Theory and the Differences in The Emotional Qualities of Classic and Contemporary Jazz Music

Daniel Toland, Union College - Schenectady, NY


Through an interdisciplinary analysis technique involving the disciplines of ethnomusicology, cognitive psychology, and semiotics, this thesis endeavored to explore the changes in Jazz culture from its inception to the modern day. By establishing a throughline of "freedom" and observing how this idea is represented in Jazz artists of the past and of today, a clearer picture of the cultural evolution of Jazz is deciphered. Indeed, while Jazz music of the past is characterized by rebellious anger, modern day Jazz is backed by a desire for harmony and integration. These analyses focused on six artists of varied cultural background and Jazz styles. The analyses were informed by Cognitive Music Theory and the Dimensional Emotion Model.


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