This undergraduate scholarly work was selected as an Outstanding Contribution to Undergraduate Scholarship and presented at the John Hazen White School of Arts & Sciences Annual Academic Symposium on May 3, 2012. Johnson & Wales University, Providence Downcity Campus, Providence, Rhode Island. Jennifer Lynn Stubing's work was nominated by Professor Allison Kramer, Social Science/Honors.


No matter how humans have evolved over the years, no matter how different the cultures or customs are across seas, every race in the history of humankind has had music. Music and emotions have been intertwined throughout history. While short-term memories are fleeting, it is theorized that music has the potential to become a long-term memory after just one hearing (Eschrich 48).

Music, memories, and emotions have all been proven to intertwine, yet not much research has demonstrated the interrelation of all three. Musicology focuses on the connection between the human psyche and music. The most common use of music is meaning enhancement, which is when listeners play music in order to enhance an event, such as a wedding (Sloboda 90). Music therapists utilize music and the subsequent reactions from their patients to access “emotions, memories, structural behavior, and provide social experiments” (Thaut 820). Music therapy has been used to relax patients, and to assist in controlling different disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, aphasia, and Tourette’s syndrome.

Survey questions were created by the researcher to find the personal viewpoints of the participants in regards to how music, memory, and emotions are connected. Forty-six participants, ranging in age from 18 to 60, were surveyed. The first five questions assessed the participants’ agreement with general assertions that music can affect the listeners and how music, memories, and emotions connect. The subsequent five questions were created to ascertain whether if or how music personally affected the respondents. They were asked, for example, if they had noticed mood changes in themselves due to music, or if they had ever individually had memories that correlated with specific music. The majority of the participants strongly agreed that music can bring out emotions in the listeners, that certain memories can be attached to different pieces of music, that slower, classical style music can relax the listener, that playing faster songs in clubs keeps patrons happy and upbeat, and that music is an important part of memory. The results from this survey strongly supported the researcher’s thesis.

It is hoped that this thesis could be beneficial to many fields of study. Some specific areas where the findings could be applicable include musicology for music production, psychotherapy for repressed memories and anger management, music therapy for mental and physical disorders, and neuroscience for brain abnormalities.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Stubing_Presentation.pdf (389 kB)


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.