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Durham University



Publication details for Professor Tuomas Eerola

Bonneville-Roussy, A. & Eerola, T. (2018). Age trends in musical preferences in adulthood: 3. Perceived musical attributes as intrinsic determinants of preferences. Musicae Scientiae 22(3): 394-414.

Author(s) from Durham


Increased age has been found to be associated with differences in musical preferences in adulthood. In past research, these differences were mostly attributed to changes in the social context. However, these influences were small and a large proportion of variance in age trends in musical preferences still remains to be explained. The aim of this article is to investigate the hypothesis that age trends in musical preferences are related to differences in preferences for some intrinsic attributes of the music in line with the Music Preferences in Adulthood Model (Bonneville-Roussy et al., 2017). Adult participants (N = 481) were asked to rate their preferences for extracts of 51 audio-music recordings (music clips) and musical attributes related to dynamics, pitch, structure, tempo, and timbre. Audio-features of the 51 clips were extracted using Music Information Retrieval methods. Using self-report, we found that the musical preferences of adults were linked with distinct likings for musical attributes, with large effects. We also discovered that self-rated attributes associated with dynamics and timbre moderated the links between age and musical preferences. Using the extracted features, we found that musical preferences were linked with distinct patterns of musical features. Finally, we established that the patterns of preferences of emerging, young and middle-aged adults were increasingly influenced by audio-features of timbre, dynamics and tonal clarity. These findings suggest that age trends in musical preferences could be partially explained by differences in the ways individuals process the intrinsic attributes of the music with age.