Music in malls as teen repellent

2007-07-20 09:21
Sydney - A council in Melbourne recently switched from classical music to tape loops of Barry Manilow, Perry Como and Frank Sinatra in its ongoing efforts to deter teenage gangs from gathering in shopping malls.

"We're interested to see what other styles of music will do," Mayor Vicki McClelland said. "Obviously if things go pear-shaped we will change back to classical quick smart."

The magic formula that McClelland is searching for has been found by Sydney researcher Emery Schubert and will be published in the next issue of the learned journal Psychology of Music.

It's called the differential affect gap (Dag) and it measures how closely emotions expressed in the music are felt by the listener.

"What we found was that when there was a large gap between felt and expressed emotion, music was liked less," Schubert said.

He tested his theories on music students, who were asked to give a rating on the seven-point DAG scale. The research stretched over six years.

Emotionally charged piece

Not surprisingly, perhaps, the Barbra Streisand tear-jerker I've Dreamed of You scored a high 2.75. There was a big gap between Streisand's emotions and those of her listeners.

"It's not the intensity of emotion that matters but whether that emotion is shared by the listener," the University of New South Wales academic said.

Intensity can be appreciated by all. The emotionally-charged piece Eusebius by Robert Schumann rated a lowly 0.19 - meaning listeners found it easy to get into the classical composer's groove.

A really high rating would be a song so grating in terms of mismatched emotions that it forced you out of a lift or out of a shop or to wrench the headphones from your ears. - dpa

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