Acoustic analysis and mood classification of pain-relieving music

Don Knox, Scott Beveridge, Laura A. Mitchell, Raymond A.R. Macdonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
515 Downloads (Pure)


Listening to preferred music (that which is chosen by the participant) has been shown to be effective in mitigating the effects of pain when compared to silence and a variety of distraction techniques. The wide range of genre, tempo and structure in music chosen by participants in studies utilising experimentally-induced pain has led to the assertion that structure does not play a significant role, rather listening to preferred music renders the music ‘functionally equivalent’ as regards its effect upon pain perception. This study addresses this assumption and performs detailed analysis of a selection of music chosen from three pain studies. Music analysis showed significant correlation between timbral and tonal aspects of music and measurements of pain tolerance and perceived pain intensity. Mood classification was performed using a hierarchical Gaussian Mixture Model, which indicated the majority of the chosen music expressed contentment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1673-1682
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011


  • music
  • hearing
  • psychology
  • patient treatment
  • cognition


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