2016, Cilt 6, Sayı 2, Sayfa(lar) 186-194
Music Listening Situations and Musical Preference of the Students at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Everyday Life: A Case of Dokuz Eylul University
Elif TEKİN GÜRGEN
Dokuz Eylül University, Faculty of Fine Arts, Department of Musicology, İzmir, Turkey
Keywords: Music in everyday life, Music listening situations, Musical preference
The purpose of the study is to reveal the music listening situation of the students at the Faculty of Fine Arts of Dokuz Eylül University, the
music genres that they listen to and the relationship between them. It is also investigated whether the music listening situation determines
the music training of the students or also makes significant difference among students according to their genders. The music listening
situation scale developed as five-point Likert type and the frequency of listening to music scales were used as for data collection tools. The
findings revealed that the majority of the students prefer listening to music at home and public transport. The least preferred situations
for listening to music are when they are with their families and whilst reading book/newspaper/magazines. The results suggested that the
most preferred genres are Rock and Blues which are closely followed by Jazz and Western Classical Music. The least preferred genres are
Turkish Arabesque Music, Rap and Turkish Folk Music. It is determined that the students' music listening situation has shown significant
differences according to the musical training, gender and musical genres.
Music listening takes place at different situations and at different
intervals and it is accompanied by our daily activities (Sloboda,
O'Neill, & Ivaldi, 2001). The recent studies in music education
have shown that there is an increasing interest in music listened by students at school or out of school. According to
North et al. (North, , Hargreaves, & O'Neill, 2000: 256), there
are some findings in recent studies showing that, in spite of all
the modernization efforts of syllabuses, music is not one of the
favorite courses of students. This is because music listening has taken on different dimensions and the music teachers have
difficulty in keeping up with developing technology, and music
is also taught by the conventional and stereotyped subjects.
Similarly Sloboda (1990) suggested that the places where people
enjoy listening to music are the concerts or houses rather
than the schools, when their childhood memories are studied
(As cited in Boal-Palheiros & Hargreaves, 2004: 40). Herbert
(2012a: 423), asserted that the comprehension of the informal
musical engagement of the young was one of the main recent
research subjects and he also stated that there was not an
available detailed information about this subjective experience
although music especially took place in every sphere of life of
Early researchers, who were curious about the reasons why we
commonly would rather particular musical genres than the others,
focused on the people's levels of arousal potential according
to the simplicity and the complexity of the music. Berlyne
(1971), in his complexity/ familiarity theory which he explained
by ‘inverted U', got some findings revealing that when the simplicity
or complexity of any audio tracks increased, the degree
of liking decreased, and similarly he inferred that the individual
preferred music less often when he was more or never familiar
with it (as cited in North & Hargreaves, 2008: 77). According
to this theory, individual prefers the music which is at middle
complexity and familiarity level (as cited in North & Hargreaves,
2008: 86). The other theory drawing attention as much
as this theory is Martindale and Moore' s (1998) prototype
model based on the idea that the individuals mostly prefer the
things that they may categorize. According to this model, we
highly prefer an audio track if it shows the characteristics of the
genre that we enjoy to listen. These types of strict experimental
methods cannot completely make a statement about our
musical preferences in daily life (North & Hargreaves, 2008:
88). Some studies on arousal based music listening also cannot
give an exhaustive answer why we prefer music. It is thought
that there must be another mechanism that explains why we
prefer listening certain types of music particular situations.
This mechanism seems to be the judgment about the typicality
or the appropriateness of music for a specific situation. For
instance, people do not want to listen to funeral music when
they are at a wedding ceremony, or similarly they want to hear
something else rather than upbeat dance music if they go there
to relax. This issue is about the music listening situations rather
than the stimulant of the music (North & Hargreaves, 2000).
According to Schafer (2008), having similar opinion, the interaction
between the listener and the music does not occur in an
insulated situation all the time. This relation can be extremely
effected by the existence of other people, other simultaneous
activities and the cultural context. For this reason, some
researchers directly focus on the musical preferences in music
Konecni (1982), who was first interested in the influence of
music listening situation on preferences, by developing Berlyne's
theory on intermediate degree of arousal potential,
questioned both why we preferred some certain musical
genres while doing our daily activities like studying, eating, travelling. He also questioned the factors leading us to change
our preferences according to time, situation, activity and place.
While Berlyne focused on the stimulating effect of the music,
Konecni focused on arousal evoked by music and arousal
evoked by the immediate context in which it is experienced.
For example, if the audience is in an extra stimulating situation,
he / she probably prefers listening to simpler music: The low
complexity level of the music destroys the stimulating effect of
music listening situation. Similarly, if the individual is in a boring
situation, he/ she prefers listening to more complex music.
The explanation of this situation is that the music having high
complexity level also decreases of the influence of listening
situation (as cited in North & Hargreaves, 2008: 90).
With the increasing interest in the influence of listening situation,
several studies were carried out on the music listening
experience in daily life. (DeNora, 2000; Juslin & Laukka, 2004;
Saarikallio & Erkkilä, 2007; Schafer et al., 2013; Sloboda et al.,
2001). Moreover the studies started to be carried out in other
places rather than the laboratory situation and took different
forms. For instance, North, Hargreaves and Hargreaves (2004)
collected data by sending messages to participants at regular
intervals in a day, in those messages they wanted the participants
to answer some questions like what they do where they
are, with whom they are, what kind of music they listen to and
how they feel while listening.
With the opinion offering an insight into great number of studies,
Herbert (2012b) suggested the conceptualization of music
listening act as ‘direct' (deep, slow, profound) and ‘indirect'
(daily, soft, slight). When the moods were analyzed during
music listening in daily life, Sloboda (2010) stated that the
ordinary characteristics of any music (clear emotional codes,
brevity, simplicity etc.) could push the person toward superficial
listening. Moreover the studies focused on the other factors
rather than music or also focused on the motivation for
music listening rather than the aesthetic pleasure. As a result,
a series of contrary case models such as ‘specific-everyday',
‘aesthetic pleasure or functional resource', ‘complex or basic
emotions', ‘music focused or listener focused experience'
emerged in literature under the theme of music listening (as
cited in Herbert, 2012b).
Berg, Fierros & Perez (2015) indicated that music plays a major
role on personal and collective identity formation and deal
with two different approaches in music listening.
a) Music as an individual item of consumption listened to at
home, in the street, on public transport, etc., but always on
an individual basis. This kind of expression is quite important
for personal references, social relations and identity formation.
b) Listening to music at concerts and festivals beside home. It
provides modal human experience for groups or people taking
part in the activities. The musical genres such as “Rap”, “hiphop”,
electronic music (dance, house, techno) and the fans of
metal music and their experiences turn into a special life style
being different from the other sections of society with the particular
symbols and languages.
Music is a spare time activity for teenagers and young adults.
It is known that almost all individuals enjoy and listen to music
(Lamont, Hargreaves, Marshall, & Tarrant, 2003). According to
the participants of the study carried out by Berg et al. (2015),
two most remarkable characteristics of the music are;
(1) likeness in clothing style as a group and the way of life
related with identity
The reasons why the university students were preferred as the
sample group in this study are similar as in the study of Berg
et al. (2015). The musical genres listened by this age group are
much more stable, steady and various than the younger ones.
These musical genres can also be entitled much better.
When the studies on the musical preferences in Turkey are
examined, it is seen that there are some studies on the influence
of the variables such as personality, belief, prejudice,
aggressiveness (Erdal, 2009; Erdal, 2012; Şenel, 2013; Yağışan,
2013). A large number of studies were carried out to prove
that music preference was effected by various factors within
the context of personality and music, but many studies ignored
the factors about where, how and with whom the music is
listened (Schafer, 2008; North et al., 2004; Berg et al., 2015).
In this context, the purpose of this study is to determine the
music listening situations of the students at the Faculty of
Fine Arts of Dokuz Eylül University and to reveal the relation
between these situations and (a) musical genre, (b) education,
(c) playing instrument and (d) gender.
In the study, ‘singular' and ‘correlational' screening models
were used (Karasar, 2002: 79-81). The single screening model;
was used to determine the music listening situations of the
students and the musical genres frequently preferred by
them, whereas the relational screening model; was used to
determine the relation between the music listening situation
and the music education, playing instrument, gender and the
The study comprises of 322 participants selected randomly
from seven different departments at the Fine Art Faculty of
Dokuz Eylül University. The average of age of the students is
23. 89 students study at musicology department, while 233
students are studying at other departments (sculpture, ceramics,
graphics, photography, painting, textile, Traditional Turkish
Data Collection Tools
In the study, a survey including the questions about the music
listening situations of the students was used. Moreover, the
some questions about the gender, age and other questions to reveal whether they play an instrument were also added.
Before the scale items were formed, the students were asked
to write a piece of informative essay about how and in which
situations they listen to music, and then an item pool was
prepared by analyzing the related literature. Next, the goaloriented
items of the study took their final form according to
expert opinion (two faculty members from educational sciences).
The scales were prepared as five-point Likert type. (1=
never, 5= very often).
Music listening frequency scale developed by Gürgen (2015)
was used to determine the musical genres listened by students.
The question “what kind of music do you listen?” was
addressed to students in the process of composing the scaler,
and they were asked to give the title of the album, singer
and track. Since the answers consisted of many musical sub
genres, those answers were reduced to 13 musical genres by
integrating them into the major musical genres. For example,
the answer of “progressive rock” was integrated into “rock”
category; the answers like “trance”, “house”, were integrated
into “electronic music” category. The scales were prepared as
five-Likert type (1=never, 5=very often).
Data Analyzing Techniques
SPSS program was used for data analyzing. Average, standard
deviation, and t-test were carried out to search the relation
between music listening situation of the students and the variables.
For t-test at Table 6, if the point given to musical genres
listened by the students is 3 or over 3, it was classified as “high
listening frequency”, but if it is under 3, it classified as “low
shows that the students mostly prefer listening to
music at home and public transport, they prefer listening to
music at the least when they are with their families and whilst
When the musical genre preference situations of the students
are analyzed at Table 2, the results have suggested that mostly
preferred genres are Rock and Blues which are closely followed
by Jazz and Western Classical Music. The least preferred genres
are Turkish Arabesque Music, Rap and Turkish Folk Music
When Table 3 is analyzed, it is seen that the students studying
other departments more significantly listen to music mostly
at bar/café/restaurant [t (320) = -4.301, p= 0.000] and while
studying [t (320) = 1.751, p= 0.000] in comparison with the students
studying at music departments. It is also observed that
the students at music departments prefer significantly listening
to music mostly with someone whom they have emotional
relation (darling) [t (320) = 2.117, p= 0.036] with comparison
to those studying at other departments.
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|Table 3: The Comparison of the Music Listening Situations Between the Students Studying at Musicology and the Students Studying at
Other Departments (t-Test)
As shown in Table 4, the students, who are not able to play any
instruments, prefer significantly listening to music at mostly
bar/café/restaurants [t(319) = -3.504, p= 0.001] and while
studying [t(319) = -4.818, p= 0.000] in comparison with those
Click Here to Zoom
|Table 4: The Comparison of the Music Listening Situations Between the Students Playing an Instrument and the Students Not Playing
According to Table 5, female students prefer listening to music
on public transport [t(319) = -3.524, p= 0.000], at bar/café/
restaurants [t(319) = 5.000, p= 0.000], while reading book/
newspaper/magazine [t(319) = 2.627, p= 0.000], and with
families [t(319) = -3.302, p= 0.000] more than males students
Click Here to Zoom
|Table 5: The Comparison of the Music Listening Situations In Terms of Student’s Gender (t-Test)
When Table 6 is analyzed, it shows that
Click Here to Zoom
|Table 6: Music Listening Situations of the Students according to the Musical Genres that They Listen to (T-Test)
1. The students listening to rock music frequently prefer it at
concerts significantly more than the less often listeners.
2. Those listening to “blues” prefer it mostly at home and on
public transport, at concerts, in the places accompanied by
live music and when they are with their friends significantly
more than the other listeners.
3. Those enjoying “jazz” prefer listening to it mostly at concerts,
bar/café/restaurants, in the places accompanied by
live music, while driving, reading and when they are with
their friends and families.
4. Those listening to more Western Classical Music prefer it at
concerts significantly more than the other listeners.v
5. Those listening to pop music prefer it while driving, sporting,
and in the places accompanied by live music significantly
more than the other listeners.
6. Those listening to more electronic music prefer it mostly
when they are at home and with their friends.
7. Those listening to Latin music prefer it while sporting, driving,
reading book etc., at bar/café/restaurant, in the places
accompanied by live music, and when they are with their
families and darlings.
8. Those listening to “reggae” prefer it while studying, reading,
at bar/café/restaurant, when they are alone, with their
friends and darlings.
9. Those listening to metal music prefer it more while they are
alone, driving, and with their families in comparison with
the other listeners.
10. Those listening to Traditional Turkish art Music (TTAM) prefer
it in the places accompanied with live music.
11. Those listening to Turkish Folk Music (TFM) prefer it while
studying, when they are with their darlings and families.
12. Those listening to Turkish Arabesque Music prefer it when
they are alone or with their darlings significantly more than
13. There is no significant difference in listening situations
between those listening to “rap” music and those not
The findings of the study have revealed that the majority of the
students listen to music at home and on public transport and
the minority of the students listen to music when they are with
their families and while reading book/ newspaper / magazines (Table 1). In his study, Sloboda et al (2001) determined that
the participants had listened to music most commonly during
the activities like doing homework and travelling. Tarrant and
his colleagues (2000), in their study on English and American
young people, indicated that the young had listened to music
at home more than two hours, and they had listened to music
to satisfy primarily the social (to satisfy their inner circle) and
emotional needs. Moreover, the young also stated that the
reason why they had listened to music lonely was to satisfy
their emotional needs. However, in his study, Helsing (2012)
inferred that listening to music outside after a stressing situation
was more effective to reduce stress.
Most study findings show that the most commonly preferred
spare time activity among young people is listening to music
at home, and these findings correspond to the findings of
this study (Boal-Palheiros & Hargreaves, 2001; Lamont et al.,
2003; Todd & Mishra, 2013 ;). However, Boal- Palheiros ve Hargreaves
(2004: 41) suggested four different listening models
by indicating that music listening could be different forms at
home and at school; (a) listening to music in the background, (b) listening to music as an accompaniment to out of music
activity (c) listening to music a s a major activity and (d) listening
to music by playing music. As a result of having interview
with 120 students, he revealed that few of the students had
listened to music as a major activity and most of them had
listened to music as an accompaniment to other activities such
as studying and playing music.
The participants of the study prefer listening to music at concerts
in the sixth place. In their study on listening to music at
a live concert in daily life, Berg and his colleagues (2015) mentioned
that the only obstacle for the young in this matter was
the cost and they would not have had any hesitations about
going there if the concert was free of charge. In this study, it
can be also said that the concert halls are not at the first places
as the situations for music listening of the young because most
of the concerts require entrance fee.
When the musical genre preference situations of the students
are analyzed, the results have suggested that the most preferred
genre are Rock and Blues which are closely followed by
Jazz and Western Classical Music. The least preferred genres
are Turkish Arabesque Music, Rap and Turkish Folk Music. In
their study carried out Turkey, Tekman and Hortaçsu (2002),
who indicated that the function of the music could change
according to the past and behaviors of the individuals, determined
that the individuals listened to music not only to relax
but also to revive and to become active; for instance while they
listened to Western Classical Music for relaxing, they listened
to rap music for reviving. Moreover they observed that the
participants were aware of the function of arabesque and TFM
to strengthen social identity; TFM represented the identity
positively but the arabesque was rejected in this sense. Also
in this study, the low listening rate of Turkish music (traditional
TTAM, TFM and arabesque) can be associated with the function
of music in representing social identity as seen in Table 2.
In other words, the individuals indicating that they did not listen
this type of music could not prefer them since these genres
were not comply with the social identity that the belonged
to and they prejudged the community listening to this kind
of music rather than they did not like this genre. North and
Hargreaves (2008) asserted that social identity was one of the
most important factors effecting musical preference.
Another remarkable finding is that the Western Classical Music
has remained as one of the most frequently listened genres.
When the studies on the subject were analyzed, the results
being opposite to this finding were discovered. For instance,
in Berg and his colleagues' study on Galician students (2015),
they revealed that the participants with a few exceptions
generally did not listen to Western Classical Music since they
thought that it was an old fashioned genre and not highly listened
nowadays. The Western Classical Music was preferred
as in the last place by the participants also in Ginocchio's study
(2009). The reason of this difference may be that the sample
group of this study consisted of students receiving education in
art fields. In fact, the study results in question were obtained
with samples chosen without observing fields.
It is seen that the students studying other departments listen
to music mostly at bar/café/restaurant and while studying
more significantly in comparison with the students studying
at music departments. It is also observed that the students
at music departments significantly prefer listening to music
mostly with someone whom they have emotional relation (darling)
with comparison to those studying at other departments
(Table 3). Similarly, the students, who are not able to play any
instruments, prefer significantly listening to music at mostly
bar/café/restaurants and while studying in comparison with
those playing instruments (Table 4). According to this, those
stating that they have never got musical education and never
played any music prefer listening to music mostly at café/ bar/
restaurants and while studying. This situation brings to mind
both the superficial listening definition of Sloboda (2010) and
the roughly categorized definition of Herbert (2012b) mentioned
in the introduction part. Since those studying in music
departments or not having any musical education but playing
music one way or another by engaging in playing instrument
as formal or informal listen to music more deeply, it is assumed
that they listen to music with the person whom they have an
emotional relation instead of listening as an accompaniment to
spare time activity.
According to Table 5 the female students mostly prefer listening
to music at bar/café/restaurants, public transport, while
reading book/newspapers/ magazines, and when they are
with their families when compared to male students. However,
when the point averages are analyzed, the male students
mostly prefer listening to music at home and when they are
alone in comparison with female students. In this case, it
can be said that the female students spend time in listening
music outside, in other words they prefer more social situations
for music listening. There are many studies showing that
the female students maintain more positive attitudes to music
than male students (as cited in North et al., 2000: 258).
According to study findings, the places where the students listen
to music and their ways of listening differ to musical genres
that they enjoy listening (Table 6). The most remarkable one
of these findings is that the ones listening to arabesque music
mostly prefer this genre when they are alone or with their
darlings in comparison with those listening to other genres.
They may prefer to keep it unknown except the person they
are in a romantic relationship with because of the prejudice of
the community. Similarly, also those listening to TFM prefer it
when they are with the closest people to them such as families
and darlings, and while studying as a nonsocial environment
activity. However, when those listening to “jazz”, “blues” and
Latin music are observed, the place preferences vary in comparison
with those listening to other musical genres. In parallel
with, the place is not highly important for those listening
to these musical genres. The other non-striking result, bearing
out the theory of Konecni (1982), is that those enjoying pop
music which has low complexity level and is defined as superficial
compared to Western Classical Music prefer it while driving
car and sporting.
In our country, there is much more need for the studies analyzing
the effects of music listening situations in daily life on musical preferences on different sample groups with different
points of view. It is recommended to be carried out the studies
analyzing the music listening situations in the context of mass
communication in future.
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