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Image by Mark  Daynes

Merry or Melancholy?


Research Objectives

Insights informed

South-Indian classical music, also known as Carnatic music, is made of several "ragas" or modes. A raga is a unique combination of few or all of the seven primary musical notes, and per traditional Indian literary works such as the Natyashastra, specific combinations of the notes elicit specific emotions. 

  • Identify differences between emotions elicited by different ragas

  • Understand whether music training plays a role in emotional experience

Music therapy intervention modules. Also served as foundational research for future studies in the organization and gave confidence to stakeholders about the value of research. 

Research Questions

What are the different emotions elicited by 4 ragas of Carnatic music?

How do ragas fit certain emotional groups and how do we leverage those groups in therapy?

What is the difference between how musicians and non-musicians feel about ragas?



Process & Challenges

20 participants

Ages 18 to 55

Mix of musically trained and untrained folks

Google Forms

Participants had to listen to audio samples of 4 ragas played on the flute and veena (string instrument). After listening to the full sample, participants rated their emotional response on a Likert-type scale and their responses were analyzed quantitatively. 


1. Recruitment: It was difficult to balance for age and musical training levels since the population was limited (resource constraints) 

2. Stakeholder collaboration: Since the stakeholders included musicians, ensuring that any sort of bias would not creep into the analysis/insights was challenging and thought-provoking.  


  • Research insights informed what ragas could potentially be used in music therapy

  • Since this was one of the first few research projects in the organization, the rigor of design and insights fostered confidence about research in the minds of the stakeholders

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