Master of Arts
Date of Defense
Stephanie Van Stee
Program notes, brief written statements provided to attendees of classical music performances, have in some cases increased audiences’ enjoyment of what they hear, but results from such research are inconsistent. This study sought to explore the effects of program notes on enjoyment, eudaimonic appreciation, and intention to attend a concert, as well as whether narrative or statistical styles of notes would be more effective. Participants in an experiment were randomly assigned to one of three conditions--no program notes, narrative style program notes, and statistical program notes--then asked to listen to a piece of music. Those who received program notes reported liking the music more and finding it more meaningful than those who did not receive notes. Participants who received narrative program notes reported more enjoyment than those in the statistical condition, but the differences were not significant. Participants’ predisposition to like classical music affected evaluations of the music, including significantly interacting with condition on interest in hearing the piece again, finding the piece meaningful, and willingness to attend a concert if offered free tickets. Significant differences were found between the narrative and statistical groups for participants' willingness to seek out information about a concert featuring the music used in the experiment. Implications for professional orchestras and further program notes research are discussed.
Henderson, Luke, "What is This Noise?: A Comparison of Narrative and Statistical Program Notes' Ability to Affect Enjoyment" (2021). Theses. 376.