Recent work has compared the different emotional characteristics between violin and erhu on the Butterfly Lovers Concerto. In this study, we investigate whether the previous studies’ results hold generally in Chinese and Western classical music. Building upon previous research, we hypothesize that the violin conveys more positive emotions, while the erhu is perceived as sadder. We also expect the violin to be better at conveying high-arousal excerpts. To test these hypotheses, 46 subjects were presented with 14 excerpts, with each excerpt represented by at least four different performances of both instruments. For each performance, subjects were asked 4 binary questions: whether it was happy, sad, agitated, and calm. Results show that the erhu is consistently perceived as sadder than the violin, while the violin is perceived as happier, calmer, and more agitated when significant differences appear. Linear regression analysis suggests that instrument is a more significant factor in the emotional perception of low-arousal excerpts than high-arousal ones. Additionally, performance was a less important factor than instrument on affect perception, and made more of a difference on low-arousal than high arousal excerpts. Meaning, there was more variation between different performances of the same except on low-arousal excerpts than high-arousal excerpts.

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