West Point Music Research Center

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    Aesthetic Judgments of Live and Recorded Music: Effects of Congruence Between Musical Artist and Piece
    (Frontiers in Psychology, 2021) Belfi, Amy M.; Samson, David W.; Crane, Jonathan; Schmidt, Nicholas L.
    The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the live music industry to an abrupt halt; subsequently, musicians are looking for ways to replicate the live concert experience virtually. The present study sought to investigate differences in aesthetic judgments of a live concert vs. a recorded concert, and whether these responses vary based on congruence between musical artist and piece. Participants (N = 32) made continuous ratings of their felt pleasure either during a live concert or while viewing an audiovisual recorded version of the same joint concert given by a university band and a United States Army band. Each band played two pieces: a United States patriotic piece (congruent with the army band) and a non-patriotic piece (congruent with the university band). Results indicate that, on average, participants reported more pleasure while listening to pieces that were congruent, which did not vary based on live vs. lab listening context: listeners preferred patriotic music when played by the army band and non-patriotic music when played by the university band. Overall, these results indicate that felt pleasure in response to music may vary based on listener expectations of the musical artist, such that listeners prefer musical pieces that “fit” with the particular artist. When considering implications for concerts during the COVID-19 pandemic, our results indicate that listeners may experience similar degrees of pleasure even while viewing a recorded concert, suggesting that virtual concerts are a reasonable way to elicit pleasure from audiences when live performances are not possible.