Music vs. Mood

Student: Maya Halcomb
Table: 117
Experimentation location: School
Regulated Research (Form 1c): No
Project continuation (Form 7): No

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The purpose of this project was to discover the effect of the key of music on emotion. A hypothesis for this project was if a song is converted from a major to a minor key, then the listener’s emotions will be changed negatively. The constants are the space the song is recorded, the number of listeners, the same songs for the same listeners, the instrument recorded on, and the space the song is played. The control was all the songs in major. The independent variable was the key to the song and the dependent variable was the emotions of the listeners. To perform this experiment, the subjects were required to fill out a survey that ranked their emotions before and after they listened to each recording. The form was ranked with moods labeled 1-5. 1) being very sad, and 5) being very happy. When the results came in, overall 62% were affected negatively by the minor music and 50% of people were positively affected by major music. Though there were a lot of responses that had no change in emotion, the data still accepts the hypothesis that minor music affects people’s moods negatively. Further or future testing could involve adding more subjects to the experiment to reduce the percentage of people with no change in emotion.


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Research Plan:


Title: Music vs. Mood

Question/Problem: Does the key of a song affect someone’s emotion? Will an unfamiliar song affect the emotions differently? And will a sad song, originally in major, change the emotions?

Hypothesis: If a song is converted from a major to a minor key, then the listener’s emotions will be changed negatively.


  • Piano
  • iPad for recording
  • Speaker for projecting the song to the subjects
  • Three songs in major (one familiar, one unfamiliar, one sad)
  • Google Forms for the subjects to rank their emotions


  1. On a piano, record Happy Birthday in major
  2.  Also on a piano, record Happy Birthday in minor
  3.  Repeat steps 1 and 2 for Ashokan Farewell, and Ocean Eyes.
  4.  Make sure that all of the songs are in order, so the testing goes smoothly. Put the major songs first, and then minor.
  5.  Create a Google Form as a survey for the subjects to rank their emotion. 
  6. Prior to listening to each recording, have the subjects rank their current mood on the form.
  7.  Have subjects listen to the recordings.
  8. After listening to each recording, subjects will fill out the question on the form dedicated to that song. In this step, they rank their mood after the recording was played.
  9.  When the testing is done, have the subjects submit their form.

Data Analysis: Have the subjects fill out a form, saying what mood they feel before and after the song was played in its original key and then converted. Then when the results from the form are turned in, make a data table based on the change of emotion the subject had. Use a pie chart to show data using the percent of the subject’s mood.

Risk Analysis: Subjects should be prepared to have mood changes while listening to songs. Need for a permission slip to listen to recordings.


Works Cited: 

Greenberg, David. “What Is Music...Exactly?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 3 Aug. 2016,

 “EarMaster - Music Theory & Ear Training on PC, Mac and IPad.” 4.4 Minor Keys and Scales, 2019,

     Ewer, Gary. “Switching From Major to Minor; Keep the Same Melody.” The Essential 

Secrets of Songwriting, 8 Mar. 2012,

Lefkoe, Morty. “Why Do We Have Moods?” The Lefkoe Institute, 5 Apr. 2011,

“Music and the Brain: What Happens When You're Listening to Music.” Pegasus Magazine,   

Nme. “The Science Of Music - Why Do Songs In A Minor Key Sound Sad?” NME, NME, 14 Feb. 2013, 4:46,

     Piano, Learn Color, director. What Is a Key of Music?; How Does It Work? YouTube, YouTube, 15 Nov. 2013,



Happy Birthday - by Mildred and Patty Hill, 1896. Played by entrant.

Ocean Eyes - composed by Finneas O’Connell, 2015. Played by entrant.

Ashokan Farewell - by Jay Unger,1982. Played by entrant.


“DigiClack Photos, Images, Assets.” Adobe Stock,


















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